Tuesday, March 31, 2009

The Southern Crossing back to La Paz

07:00 Friday, 27 March 2009,
We are 20 hours out of Isla Isabella on our way to La Paz. The wind has been from the NW, and as usual, the direction we are headed. When we left the seas were calm with a slight swell from the west and a 2-3 kt breeze that built up most of the day, peaking at 15-18 in mid-afternoon. We were able to get some sailing in but the odd swell pattern from 2 directions made progress really slow and 60 degrees off our planned course. By nightfall we were back under power as the wind died off. The wind has backed to the SW and if it builds we should be able to sail some more today with decent progress towards La Paz. The weather gurus have predicted very light conditions for the next few days. Our aim is to get to La Paz for the start of the Seafest on the 1st.
We stayed 3 days in Mantanchen Bay, lazing about and enjoying the ambience. The boats in the anchorage proved to be quite friendly and we did quite a few things together. One evening J-G organised a dinghy raft-up for cocktails and nibbles. That went off very well, as did Fran’s sushi rolls which have become quite popular and are being requested for such events now. We spent a few afternoons at Ishmael’s palapa , on the beach. Ishmael graciously allows us to bring our dinghies ashore adjacent to his establishment and looks after them for us while we are away. We also made an excursion into town and did the mangrove/river cruise.
The river cruise is a 4-hour expedition by panga and is well worth the $10 fee. We were 8 in a large panga powered by a quiet 50hp Honda outboard. The Mexican skipper had been doing this for years and he guided the boat skilfully along the narrow waterway, stopping at any interesting fauna and flora along the way. Fran took lots of pictures of birds and the occasional crocodile and turtle. We also stopped at a crocodile hatchery and got our fill of the reptiles in all stages of maturity and lengths. The breeding pairs were 10-12 feet long and ugly as sin. There was also a stop at a spring fed pool, fenced off of course, where we could take a dip. Few of the group took advantage of this after seeing the croc farm.
The unofficial “Cruising Mayor” of San Blas mentioned in Charlie’s charts and a resident of San Blas for the past 40 years, Norm Goldie, is still helping the cruisers with anything he can but now he is asking for a “gratuity” of $20 to guide cruisers into the estuary and to the marina. His description of the waterway and the shallows is quite scary. His claims that you will go aground unless he assists you are a bit hard to take but cruisers will do what they feel comfortable with. Eventually someone will provide the waypoints.
We left Mantachen Bay on Wednesday, in company with 5 other boats, all headed for Mazatlan, Juniata and Dash opting to stop at Isla Isabella on the way, the remainder continued on. We arrived at the Eastern anchorage at Isla Isabella in late afternoon yesterday. We are the only boat headed directly to La Paz from here. We spent a quiet night and Rosie got to bark at another dog on a boat nearby. It has been quite a challenge to get her to bark when other boats, especially dinghies, get near. Hopefully she will develop into a good “alert” dog. Once she does start barking, however, it is a problem to get her to stop. We might have created a monster.
The water was crystal clear and J-G took the opportunity to clean the bottom using the hookah. Having been here twice in Royal Exchange we had no desire to go ashore so we finished our tasks and sailed off by 11AM powering into a calm, windless Pacific with a low swell from the SW that lasted for the entire day and most of the night. By the next morning we had the start of a NW breeze, unpredicted by any of the forecasts. It continued to build until we had 15-18 kts on the nose with 4-5 ft seas. We had no option but to power into it. By the following day it had backed to the west and we were able to sail towards the NW. The next morning it was down to 12-14 kts and back to the NW.
We have adapted easily to being at sea, out of sight of land and night watches and but this is the first time this trip where we have sailed overnight without a moon. There is a certain comfort about a source of natural light when sailing. The radar certainly helps in those conditions.
Our fuel is getting low so we decided to continue under sail but altered to the west and into Los Muertos for the night. The plans is to use the remainder of our fuel reserves to get us around the headland and through San Lorenzo channel, hoping to catch the westerly’s for the remainder of the trip down to La Paz.
We are back in fish again with a 15 lb Dorado caught while we were under sail. He was quite a challenge to bring in as we couldn’t slow down and reverse course like we normally do under motor. It is nice to be back in Dorado waters.
Sunday, 29 March, 2009
We arrived at Los Muertos in late yesterday afternoon, and had a nice relaxing night. The temperature has dropped quite a bit so sleeping is comfortable. There were quite a few boats in the anchorage including Relax, who we had last seen at Las Hadas. The bay here is changing. The old Giggling Marlin has been bought out by a couple of ex-NFL players and the foreshore of the point is being developed. Several large new houses and the start of a resort/condo development are visible.
This morning we headed out just after sunrise into a calm sea. It has been a really good day to make the transit to La Paz. He wind has been very light and variable all day and has changed direction on us all the way up the coast and back down to La Paz. We have been able to sail for a good portion of the day so fuel is no longer a concern. We had asked Vicky on Inspiration at Sea to make reservations for us so our arrival and slip assignment was quite simple. We have 4 days credit from our last stay here in January.
The marina has changed hands since we were here last so there have been changes. The credit system has been eliminated and prices are going up. Good thing we leaving.
Most of the boats we were looking fwd to reconnect with at this marina are away. We have missed Freedom Kirkland. He crossed over to Mazatlan a few days ago. We had been trying to call him but had no luck. Both Inspiration at Sea and Precious Metal are out in the Islands. But Pam had to come in yesterday to pick up a friend and restock, so we got to see her. Red Pepper is tied up and it appears that Ken and Pat are away and Polar Bear is all sealed up for the season while he is progressing work on his “Glide Cycle”. Tanque de Tiburon has arrived in San Carlos and they should be on their way home by now. Everyone else we know is either anchored out or in one of the other marinas in the bay. With Bayfest starting this week we should get lots of opportunities to meet some of our acquaintances.

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