Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Heading north and rescuing Little fawn

Beach Golf - what posture!!!

Little Fawn on the beach

Whaleshark at Puerto Escondido

Salt Pan at Isla San Francisco

Bahia San Evaristo, 1400, 6 Apr 2010
We have just arrived at this sheltered anchorage on the Baja mainland side. It has been a short but rough passage with 20-25 kt the islands between its wide bay, beautiful sandy beach and crystal clear water make it northerly winds on the nose (noserlies) all the way.
Our trip from La Pas to Isla San Francisco was quite enjoyable. Although the wind was light most of the day we made good progress under power. By early afternoon we arrived at Los Islotes and conditions were ideal for a swim with the sea lions. The large colony of sea lions didn’t pay us much attention but several curious juveniles swam out to check us out. They even nipped at Fran and Janet but there were no injuries. As for the planned whale shark swim, it didn’t happen because of choppy seas and difficulty getting to their area by dingy. As we left the island the wind picked up from the east and we were able to set the spinnaker for the first time this year and had a very pleasant sail to Isla San Francisco.
When we arrived we found all of the Sailfest boats at the anchorage. We had participated in this event last year and knew many of the participants including the Profilgate, Cirque, Pantera and Moontide. They left the following morning leaving only a few boats in the anchorage. By 1800 the bay had filled up again with other boats heading north.
We left Isla San Francisco this morning in company with Optical Illusion. The island is one of our favourite anchorages in the Sea of Cortez and is part of the recently established federal park zone encompassing most of La Paz and Loretto. This is our 4th time and we never tire of it. Unfortunately they do not allow dogs on these islands so Rosie isn’t very happy to stay aboard while we go ashore in “her” dinghy. The water is cooler here and the beaches have shells. I’ve always wondered why there is such a disparity between the “shell-less” beaches mainland and those of the Sea.
On our way here we stopped at Isla Coyote, something we had always missed in our previous trips. It is a small fishing village of 5-6 houses perched on a rock formation. The 10-20 inhabitants live on fishing and selling trinkets to tourists who visit this unique location. Fran took the opportunity to stock up on Christmas and birthday presents and we bought some very nice fish from this morning’s catch that was being cleaned on the shore. We were surprised to see an abundance of dogfish (sand sharks) and small rays in the catch. We also gave colouring books and crayons to the kids.
When we left Isla San Francisco the winds were light, and according to the weather gurus, they were supposed to stay like that all day, increasing tonight. Looks like they got it wrong this time, again. We’ll be hunkered down here for a few days while this 25-30 kt northerly passes through. Slogging north under these conditions is not pleasant and our next stop, Los Gatos, is about 28 miles north, up the coast.
It is difficult to predict how far north we will get to before we have to turn back to make the crossing back to Mazatlan but we will be dictated by the weather. We are hoping for a northerly breeze and at this time of year the north wind is still predominant.
Honeymoon Cove, Isla Danzante, 12 April 2010
It has been an exciting few days since we left San Evaristo. The sailing wasn’t too remarkable with calm seas and light airs for the most part so we continue to be more of a motor cruiser than a sailboat. Our Perkins 4-236 has been very dependable. We are still in company with Optical Illusion. Bill, Janet and their guest Les have been great company.
After departing San Evaristo our first stop was Los Gatos where we had hoped to see our old fisherman friend Manuel. Instead we were visited by his son who reported that Manuel is suffering from prostate problems. His son seems to have taken on his father’s role of providing shellfish and langoustes for visiting cruisers. Unfortunately we weren’t able to get any because of an early departure the following morning. On our way there we saw a pod of false killer whales, 3 females and a male. Unlike their namesakes these whales have no white markings but the male’s huge dorsal fin was reminiscent of the killer whales of the Pacific Northwest.
We had heard on the morning SSB net a few days ago that a vessel called Little Fawn had run up on the beach close to Agua Verde during the brisk northerlies . As we rounded the headland towards Agua Verde we saw her laying on her side close to the beach, a daunting sight for any sailor.
After anchoring in the southern anchorage we went ashore for some groceries and some of the locally produced goat cheese at a small tienda ashore. Later we had a game of beach golf with our friends. Hitting the ball off the sand into a ring 20 feet away is not all that easy. But good for laughs while drinking cold beers. Yes, we did bring a couple of pitching wedges just for that purpose.
The next morning we went to see if we could assist in the rescue efforts of Little Fawn. It was a dismal sight to see this vessel in only a few feet of water. Previous attempts to tow her off the beach had resulted in dragging her over the rocky foreshore and holing her port side which was then underwater. The plan was to cant her over to her stbd side in the sandy shallows beyond the rocks to assess the damage and do temporary repairs, sufficient to float her and enable her to be towed to Puerto Escondido where she would be hauled out.
Initially attempts to cant her over weren’t successful and resulted in snapped stay fitting and a broken mast. However, with dogged determination, the cooperation of a number of cruisers, some with expertise in this kind of rescue and the help of The Cat’s Meow, a trawler – cruiser conversion with a massive 280HP diesel and a huge prop, the operation succeeded and a patch was applied. Little fawn is an older Chris Craft 38 ft sloop. I must note that the hull was remarkably thin for an ocean going yacht but with the use of wallboard screws, strips of thin plywood and a product called Splash Zone, a 2-part epoxy the hull was made as watertight as possible. The last part of the operation was to drag her back to deep water. The Cat’s Meow was able to tow her across the sand bar and she was refloated late afternoon yesterday. SV Perseverence, a Sampson ferro-cement ketch from Vancouver (BWC boat) assisted with the pumping operations throughout the night and the following morning a diver plugged a few other minor leaks. Once stabilized and almost watertight she was towed back to port, arriving this afternoon. Little Fawn’s owner has some serious work ahead of him if he wants to repair the damage. Personally I don’t think it is worth it on such an old hull.
Puerto Escondido, 13 April 2010.
We did the short crossing from Isla Danzante to Puerto Escondido this morning. We refuelled and took on water for our crossing to Mazatlan. While we were fuelling a whale shark was seen nearby swimming in the shallows.
Little fawn is on the hard and doesn’t look much better than she did on the beach. The patches have been removed and the repair job looks even more daunting.
We are doing our laundry and getting a few more groceries for the trip across. Weather dependant we will be on our way tomorrow morning.
Each morning we listen in to the ham and SSB nets to get weather and keep track of friends. Occasionally we listen in to a large net covering most of North America. We were blown away by hearing Barry on Passat II checking in from Belize. We were able to exchange a few words. Isn’t modern technology wonderful!!

1 comment:

  1. We will miss seeing you the rest of this season but look forward to more fun next winter. Have a pleasant passage and a good summer.
    Sandy & Chris