Friday, April 25, 2008

Tuesday, 22 April 2008

We have arrived at an anchorage off Punta Sta Inez, 22 miles southeast of Santa Rosalia. Charlie's charts say that there is an extraordinary shelling beach nearby and we intend to explore it before we leave. I don't really want to find any more cone shells this time…. Besides, Fran found a beautiful shell just before I was stung. Payback????
Our stopover in Puerto Escondido was brief. We arrived in early afternoon and obtained our water and fuel before taking a buoy at the Singlar (government run) facility for the night. We dinghy'd in and got laundry done and downloaded our e-mails, which took the better part of the next 2 hours, and finished just in time for the facility to close up for the day. During last year's visit in Royal Exchange we weren't even able to get water and the building was still under construction. This year the
facility is up and running as best as can be expected but very few boats are using it. The "Waiting Room" and the circular anchorage run by "Appy", Singlar's competitor, is getting most of the business because of his lower fees. Singlar's aim of becoming the local haul-out location for much of the Sea's cruisers isn't going to happen until they make some drastic fee reductions. With the Loretofest happening in a few weeks more boats will be forced to use Singlar's buoys as Appy's facilities reach
max capacity.
That night we decided on supper at a local restaurant about a mile up the road. We were warned that when walking back along the road at night it is prudent to have flashlights as rattlesnakes have been seen after dark on the warm road surface. The pull of a restaurant meal was greater than Fran's fear of snakes that evening. We met Ken and Nancy from Brandywine at the restaurant. They were driving and offered us a drive back to the marina. Fran was quick to accept.
We left the next morning, saying farewell to Polar Bear and Brandywine and carried on up to Loreto. We anchored off the breakwater just before noon, close to the Ryndam. The Holland America cruise ship was ferrying her complement of tourists ashore by lighter. By 1500 we were on our way again having obtained a few provisions.
By sunset we were at anchor in San Juanico Cove, another location we had visited last year. Amazingly, we were the only sailboat among 7 cruisers. We didn't get a chance to go ashore here but promised ourselves that next year we would have an extended stay to explore this beautiful bay.
The next morning we were off again, heading north under power in a flat calm sea. Again we bypassed a number of areas we are eager to visit. Bahia Conception is high on our list for next season, as is the village of Mulege where an offshore roadstead anchorage is required.
By 1800 we were at anchor in an open but comfortable anchorage in the company of 3 other sailing vessels and 2 cruisers.

Thursday, 24 April 2008
We are now anchored in Sweet Pea Cove on the west side of Isla San Marcos, our last stop before we do the northern crossing to Guaymas. We had intended on leaving tonight to arrive tomorrow morning, however, Fran isn't feeling up to par so we will wait until she improves.
We stayed an extra day at Punta Sta Inez to explore and it is a good thing we did. Shell Beach was all it was supposed to be and better. Shells were everywhere thanks to the hurricane that passed through last fall. The variety was surprising and there were lots left after we picked our fill…. We left this morning, again in flat calm conditions with balls of bait rising all around us and seabirds swooping down to feed. It took a few minutes to clear the anchor of a huge ball of seaweed, which is abundant
in this bay. A few miles out we decided to try our luck in the tide lines that appeared on the sounder to be full of baitfish. We were rewarded by 3 nice sea bass (cabrilla) one of the best tasting species in these waters.
Next segment from Guaymas/San Carlos.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Thursday, 17 April 2008

We have been anchored in a very sheltered bay at Bahia Agua Verde since midday yesterday. We are in the company of 6 other boats waiting out a blow, which is due to end tomorrow morning.
Agua Verde is the 3rd stop we have had since leaving Isla San Francisco. Punta Evaristo, 18 miles up the coast from San Francisco, would have been a comfortable and quiet overnight stay on our way to the more popular anchorage of Los Gatos had it not been for a large cruiser called Besame that liked loud music and let their 2 dogs bark.
We arrived in the Los Gatos anchorage in early afternoon the following day. To our surprise Polar Bear was there, a boat we had met at Isla San Francisco last year. It was a treat to reacquaint with an old friend and catch up on the past year. Also to meet us was Manuel, the fisherman who helped us to celebrate our sale of the lot on Admirals Rd last year by obtaining lobster and scallops for us. We ordered lobsters again and had 3 for supper, another wonderful treat. The main feature of the bay last year was a large whalebone that had been planted in the sand (by Polar Bear we later found out). It was missing this year and Manuel explained that it had been taken north by cruisers.
We left the next day with Polar Bear for Bahia Agua Verde, knowing that this would be a more comfortable anchorage that Los Gatos with the predicted Northerlies due the following day. We had expected a crowded bay but when we arrived there were only 4 other boats and there was a space available in the most protected part of the bay. Once again the chart/GPS discrepancy was immediately noticeable. Our anchored position showed us to be 300 yards to the East of our actual position, a good reason not to rely on GPS plotting alone.
As predicted, the wind began to pick up in mid-morning bringing some relief from the high heat we had experienced the previous day. The boats on the outer edges of the anchorages wallowed in 2-4 foot swells and the local fishermen kept their pangas on shore.

Sunday, 20 April 2008
We stayed in Agua Verde an extra day enjoying the peaceful surroundings and doing some walking on the rugged shore and snorkeling in along the shore. J-G had a chance to play with his underwater camera. Hope the pictures come out.
We left Agua Verde mid-morning, Saturday, with Polar Bear. Dave had suggested a night’s anchorage at Yellow Beach, on the northern tip of Isla Monserrate before heading into Puerto Escondido the following day. We had a wonderful sail with a 5-8 kt quartering breeze and we were finally able to hoist the mizzen staysail. To our surprise we discovered that it was one of Gosling’s original suit of sails made by Butler-Verner Sails in Gosport, UK. We were also entertained by several pods of fin whales, but none as close to our encounter last year.
We arrived at Yellow Beach in mid-afternoon. Liberty Call 2 (retired Marine Corps) was already there and we were later joined by Airops (retired Naval Air), both of whom we later met aboard Polar Bear for “sundowners”. Our stroll ashore was not a pleasant one for J-G. While walking in the shallows off the beach he stepped on something that stung him in the foot. He was in excruciating pain for the next 3-4 hours. A search of the area failed to find the cause so it was most likely a cone shell sting, however, no stinger could be found in the wound. Four hours later he was back to normal and we were able to enjoy a nice evening of dinner and Mexican Train Dominoes aboard Polar Bear.
This morning we have decided to head into Puerto Escondido and get fuelled up, watered and get our internet fix and laundry done before we depart for the last leg of this year’s voyage. We plan a few more stops along the way but we are aiming for Guaymas by the 26th or 27th to start the preps for Gosling’s summer layover. We found out this morning after enquiring on the net that Prairie Seashell the boat from Calgary we met last year, passed this way a few days ago and is expected to be in Guaymas any day now.
That’s all for now. More in a few days.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Enroute to Isla San Francisco

Sunday, 13 April 2008

We are heading north towards our next anchorage at Isla San Francisco after spending 2 nights and a full day in a beautiful anchorage called Ensenada de Partida on Isla Del Espiritu Santo. The islands in the Sea of Cortez were designated as national parks in May of last year and this is one of the most visited by cruisers. It is also one of 2 parks where a token fee is paid for the privilege of anchoring and landing ashore. The other is Loretto, further north. We spent the day exploring the sand-spit
between the two coasts and working on the boat replacing the caulking between the rails and the cockpit combing. J-G also wrestled with a broken drainpipe under the sink in the fwd head. That will have to wait for a solder job at our next port. Where is Doug (Ka-Em-Te) when we need a real plumber?

We stayed 3 days in La Paz, enjoying the ambience of what we have experienced as the best marina in Mexico so far. Had we known beforehand that the annual Bayfest, sponsored by Marina La Paz, was going to be held that weekend we would have allowed for it in our schedule. We will certainly consider it for next year.
The main chore of repairing the pulley was accomplished but not without complications. J-G set out afoot following directions to a bearing supply store but a few blocks ended up being a few10s of blocks. The store had a close fit (Nissan wheel bearing) for the inside diameter but the outside diameter would require the services of a machine shop. Luckily the machine shop was just beside the bearing shop. 2 hours later with the machined part in hand I was on the search for a slightly larger bolt to
accommodate the inside diameter. After a 2-hour search I finally found a shop specializing in fasteners and they had the right fit.
The next step was to re-install the pulley. With Doug's (Ka-Em-Te) help we managed to get it back in place. Only a run-up would confirm proper alignment. Our engine had been sitting idle for 2 days by this time and and, as usual, it wasn't starting. Kirk (Freedom Kirkland) spent the next 2 hours trying to find the problem. We had nearly given up when one last try brought success. From now on we will be starting the engine daily to make sure that whatever is draining doesn't drain all the way. Now,
2 days later we can confirm that process has worked.
We spent the rest of the time shopping for the trip north, visiting La Paz and just enjoying our time in the marina. Friday arrived and it was time to leave. Kirk had left the previous afternoon on his way to Espiritu Santo before heading south to Cabo to meet his relatives. We bid farewell to Doug and Trish and slipped the dock in a moderate onshore breeze.
This was our 4th dock departure and the first with any significant wind. We certainly gave the neighbouring boats a show trying to get the bow into the wind. Gosling can be very stubborn that way but after a good deal of filling and backing we finally convinced her to go to windward (backing out wasn't an option). We need lots more practice!

Today's trip to Isla San Francisco has been a short one, only 21 miles and, with a favorable wind we were able to sail part way. Another 5 lb bonito tuna sacrificed itself for sushi on the way. It is mid-afternoon and we are anchored in a nice quiet bay, close to where we were last year about this time aboard Royal Exchange. There is a natural salt pan just over the dunes so we will getting our year's supply of rock salt before we leave. Our next destination is Punta Evaristo, another choice anchorage
some 20 miles up the coast.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Monday, 7 April 2008

Enroute to La Paz from Bahia Los Muertos

We spent 2 days in Los Frailes with the wind whistling through the rig and the windwaves slapping the hull. Further out we could see white water and the occasional whale frolicking off the point to the south. By Friday morning it was all over and we woke to light winds from the southwest. We decided to stay an extra day to explore the bay and finish some projects. That evening we met Kirk (AKA Capt Kirk) single-handing a boat called Freedom Kirkland, (Edmonton Alta), the first Canadian boat since
Mag Bay. Kirk is a farmer and mechanic and will be heading back to Alta at the end of the month to put in his crop.
The following morning we weighed anchor and headed out towards Bahia Los Muertos, leaving our friends behind. As we left we hoisted all our working sails and asked Ka-Em-Te to take a picture for our boat cards. The wind was just strong enough to fill the sails so we should have a good photo to use.
The trip up the coast was uneventful except for losing one big fish but getting the next one that hit the lure after a 20-minute battle. This one, a 12 lb skipjack, put up a good fight that tested the equipment we had purchased at the garage sale in San Diego but the 20-lb test line was adequate. If anything breaks that line we don't want it in the boat anyway!
We arrived at Bahia Los Muertos (Bay of the Dead) by late afternoon and anchored in the company of several sail and powerboats. The star attraction was The US America Cup boat, Stars and Stripes, fresh from the last race from San Diego two weeks ago. We later found out that they were waiting for engine parts and that Dennis Conner had returned home.
Apart from a few beach homes the bay is quite barren. There were many pangas nested along the eastern shoreline, most of them charter boats for the gringo fishermen. The only redeeming feature of this bay is a bar/restaurant called the Giggling Marlin, the sister establishment to the popular Cabo location. We took a stroll over to the place to check it out and found the menu on the expensive side, however, they did have an item listed as " You catch it, we cook it" for a reasonable price. Later
on that evening we were back with Trish and Doug from Ka-Em-Te and Kirk from Freedom Kirkland, who had both arrived in mid-afternoon, each carrying a baggy of our latest catches. The chef outdid himself with 4 different variations on tuna that we hadn't yet come across. It was a good evening sitting under a palapa restaurant, looking over the anchorage and telling sea stories. The trip back to the boat was exciting. The phosphorescence was very active and we left a bright wake as we motored along.
Small bait fish were all around us, skittering out of the way, a few landing in the dinghy.
They are attempting to change the name of the bay to the Bay of Dreams but it will take some time for that name to be popular, especially since the chart will continue to have that name for the foreseeable future. Charts of this area are not amended very often. The existing charts were based on USN surveys in 1897 with updates to 1961.
We all departed this morning but we were delayed by an annoying problem with the engine. When left at rest for a few days it is very difficult to start. JG tried the usual bleeding air routine but today that wasn't enough. After contacting Kirk on VHF we tried a new trick and were rewarded by that throaty roar of 85 British horses. I hope we can figure out the reason. Kirk has a good idea and he'll give us a hand this evening when we meet up again.
Back to work! While Fran drives or reads J-G has been working on the topsides during our passages. A professional boat groomer in San Diego recommended a product called The Bartender's Friend, a powdered cleaner similar to Comet. It is very good for teak decks and we have found that it does a really nice job on gelcoat. After the scrub J-G has been applying a coat of Big White sealant and conditioner, followed by 2 coats of Big White high temp wax. What a difference it has made to the 35 year-old

Tuesday, 8 April, 2008
We are anchored in a small bay called Caleta Lobos. It was a bouncy night with land-generated winds of up to 12 kts. This side of the bay looked nice and calm when we arrived but the wind changed during the early evening and we ended up on the breezy side.
Later on this morning we will be heading to the Marina La Paz for a few days. We'll get the engine pulley repaired and pick up the parts we need to complete a few projects, fuel, water and groceries and we'll say farewell to our two buddy boats. Ka-Em-Te is staying on for a few extra days and Freedom Kirkland is heading back to Cabo. Kirk gave us some advice on the engine last night that we hope will solve our problems.
Time is becoming a factor. We have less than 3 weeks to get to San Carlos and that is still 300 miles to the north. With a continuation of this weather we'll have a leisurely trip and be able to enjoy some of the many great anchorages along the way.