Wednesday, March 31, 2010
La Cruz to the Baja
Fish for lunch; a pompano jack (we think)
Frigate Bird, Isla Isabella
Full Quiver race Crew
2100, Thursday, 25 Mar, 2010, At anchor, Isla Isabella
We are at anchor at the eastern anchorage at Isla Isabella, some 48 miles from San Blas. We are on our way to the Baja side and this is our usual intermediary spot on that route. It is a bumpy anchorage tonight with a moderate wind blowing between the 2 islands protecting the anchorage. We are protected from the southwesterly swell which we can hear pounding the shore on the opposite side of the point to the west. We’ll be here for at least one night and maybe 2.
Our trip from La Cruz north was uneventful. We had very little wind so we had to power most of the way to Mantanchen Bay just outside of San Blas, midge country, and I don’t use that term loosely. This place is renowned for its flying pest problem. Most visitors come away from San Blas with welts over most of their exposed bodies. We are prepared with bug sprays and fine screening to keep the tiny bugs from getting into the cabin. We soon discover that the lotions we have are not as effective as we hoped but our screens work.
We stayed one night in the Bay and followed our friends Bill and Linda (Tanque de Tiburon) into the estuary the following morning. We were joined outside the entrance to the channel by SV Last Resort who writes articles for a sailing magazine. None of us was prepared for the conditions at the bar entrance. San Blas is not known for its adverse bar conditions so we weren’t anticipating anything unusual but it soon became apparent that the SW swell and the outgoing current was producing quite the swell at the entrance to the channel. To make a long story short, Fran screamed, we surfed and Last resort got it all on video, all, that is except the part where they almost rolled over. So see the video go to You Tube and search for Knock Down at San Blas. Gosling is the dark hull boat next in line.
We were welcomed, as usual, by Norm Goldie, the unofficial greeter and self-proclaimed senior gringo of San Blas. He has lived here for some 40+ years and lately has begun to get quite cantankerous and nasty to cruisers, particularly those who have offered assistance to their counterparts to navigate the channel to the marina or the anchorage sites in the estuary. He still considers himself to be the sole source of assistance and, until this year was cajoling cruisers for a $20 “donation” for his services. He still holds court in the town square every evening offering his assistance to all who ask. There is a very good letter published in the march issue of Latitude 38 (may be online also) on the subject.
We spent 2 nights at anchor in the estuary and commuted back and forth to the Singlar marina where Bill and Linda were tied up. We took advantage of the free showers, laundry and internet as their “guests”. We also met another interesting couple, Russ and Jodie on Smok-N-Blues, aluminum Peterson 44 that used to be owned by Dennis Connors of America’s Cup fame. They are on the hard there getting the boat stripped down to bare metal. Looks like Dennis used a lot of fairing compound...
Our outbound crossing of the bar wasn’t as exciting as the entry. We left under similar tide conditions but the swell was considerably lower than the 8-10 ft we experienced on the way in. Our passage to Isabella started off smooth with a close reach but the wind soon increased and backed to the WNW, our course for Isabella. In order to make it before dark we powered the rest of the way.
Wind conditions should be good over the next few days for us to continue on our way to Muertos and La Paz.
Monday, 29 Mar10, Anchored in the old harbour, Mazatlan
We weren’t planning on diverting to Mazatlan but a predicted 30-35 kt blow down the middle of the Sea convinced us that Mazatlan was a better destination. We departed in company with Tanque de Tiburon on the morning of the 26th into a light northerly breeze that increased to 25-20 by the afternoon. The seas generated by the wind were quite uncomfortable to pound into but we made good time. Our initial ETA was about 2300 but Tanque was delayed by another broken belt a few hours out and, just 3 miles outside the harbour, their engine quit. We decided to stay with them until daybreak and towed them into the anchorage the following morning. Thankfully, the wind had died but seas were running 4-5 ft on the beam all the way in.
The wind picked up considerably that afternoon and we were quite comfortable to be in a nice sheltered anchorage. Last night Tanque thanked us for the tow by taking us out to dinner at Fat Fish, our favourite rib place.
The weather gurus are saying that the winds are diminishing over the next few days so all those bound for the Baja will be leaving soon. We have decided to depart this afternoon while there is some wind left. Now that we are further north we will have a better wind angle towards La Paz. We’ll have to leave Tanque behind so that they can get their engine repaired but we will be in good company with Optical Illusion expecting to start their crossing tomorrow morning.
2000, Wednesday, 31 Mar 10; Alongside Marina Palmyra La Paz
We arrived in La Paz at about 1000 this morning after a 2 day crossing from Mazatlan. We are tied up at Marina Palmyra where we stayed last year. There are several other boats here that we know and others are arriving in the next few days. With Bayfest next weekend and the Latitude 38 Sailfest this weekend marina accommodations are at a premium. Because of our tight schedule, we have decided to stay only a few days and we will miss both events.
We departed Maz in mid-afternoon on Sunday followed by Tanque de Tiburon. Their engine problem turned out to be a minor one so they were ready to depart with us.
The weather guru had been predicting that the northerly winds would abate that night so we wanted to get a head start. The first 10 hours were quite uncomfortable with 15-18 kt headwinds and 5-8 ft seas but by early morning the wind abated and the seas began to flatten out. The rest of the trip was a diesel powered cruise on flat seas with little or no wind. Flying fish were seen everywhere and also the odd dolphin. On passages like this we are able to chat amongst ourselves and keep up-to-date with local conditions by VHF radio. During the long night watches this becomes a welcomed distraction. Another factor that made the night passages so enjoyable was the full moon.
Tomorrow we will be going out to the Magote to swim with the whale sharks. Monday we will see about swimming with the sea lions at Los Islotes. This will be a big thing for Fran; thank goodness whale sharks only eat plankton.