Friday, April 15, 2011

Into the Sea of Cortez

Tidal hot springs north of Agua Verde

Anchorage at Agua Verde

Bees searching for water on Isla Carmen

10:00, 8 April 2011, under sail from Ensenada Grande, Espiritos Santos
Wow, has the last week ever gone fast, obviously a consequence of growing older. I remember when those last few weeks of school would drag on forever before the summer holidays.
We are in transit between 2 anchorages after leaving La Paz yesterday. It was a busy week. We met some great people including Jerry and Gail (Moshulu) and the people aboard Anna and Avalon, Mike on La Otra and a really weird coincidence at the restaurant on the dock where we met very good (non-sailor) friends of Lexie and Gil Ballatore who were staying at the marina motel for the night.
We went on a tour to Todos Santos with Jerry and Gail using Eduoardo’s Guide service. It was well worth paying the fee to have an in depth tour of this wonderful area. We visited the town and the surfing beach. In town we visited the Hotel California, made famous by the Eagles with their song of the same name. The town is known in Mexico as a “magic” town, one of 27 or so in the country; magic, meaning that it is a centre for black/white magic, spiritual awareness and such. The Eagles were just a bunch of your surfers and musicians at the time they stayed at the Hotel California in Todos Santos and are said to have sold their souls to the devil to have a hit song. Kinda explains the lyrics. They rose very quickly to fame after that but had a very on again off again career with many breakups. Their last and most famous reunion was in the 90’s. Don Henley, the lead singer had announced that they wouldn’t get back together again until “Hell Freezes Over”. Guess what he named the tour?? Great story, wonder if it’s true...
We finally got the stainless rails redone. It cost us more than the original job just to have the defects put right and the entire assembly polished but it was worth it. The rails now complement the paint work that was done in Guaymas. We are looking into the possibility of getting an arch made to place a lot of the ancillary equipment including solar panels and boat davits for the dinghy. That would free up a lot of deck space, something Gosling doesn’t have much of. In these waters we tow the dinghy and thus we actually have some beach space on the bow.
Along with restocking the larder and getting a few fishing bits we had a great opportunity to do a thorough cleaning of the boat. This was, in part, due to the mess the welder’s helper left after the polishing was completed but the close attention we had to the task revealed a few areas on the deck where, the paint is flaking off. We’ll have to discuss these with Francisco, our painter when we get back to Guaymas next month.
We are in a hurry to get north to Conception Bay, an area we have missed the last 3 times we have been along this coast. We bypassed it with Royal Exchange in 2007, didn’t have time in 2008 when we first arrived with Gosling and the last 2 years we have had to alter our plans because of family problems. The plan now is to get up there in the next week, spend some quality time there and then head back to Puerto Escondido for the Loreto Fest, another event we have missed. We have just learnt that KMT (Doug and Trish) will be heading there too on the first leg of their trip back home. It’ll be nice to see them again but sad to see them on their way back up the coast to Oregon.
We left La Paz just as their Bay Fest was beginning, hoping to get as far north as we can before some strong northerly winds develop on Sunday. We plan to hole up in Bahia San Francisco or San Evaristo until they pass.
As we pulled into Ensenada Grande yesterday afternoon we were surprised to see Lunautica anchored there. We hadn’t seen them since Las Hadas. Mike and Judy are on their way south and plan to bash up the outside, back to Ensenada in early May. We had a wonderful evening catching up over a great Sicilian pasta supper. They reported that Full Quiver (Pam and Steve) should be arriving in the area any day now.
2300, Saturday, 9 April 2011, Anchored at San Evaristo.
We are holed up in the northern bay at San Evaristo with Moshulu (Jerry and Gail) and 7 other boats waiting for the north winds that were predicted to arrive this afternoon to pass; problem is they haven’t arrived yet. We have good protection here much better than the conditions we faced last night.
We left Ensenada Grande after a very bumpy night with winds blowing right into the anchorage from the west. As we exited the bay the wind backed to the southwest and enabled us to sail for most of the morning. As we passed by Isla San Francisco a quick look confirmed that the conditions there were not good, in fact, Moshulu had just spent a very bad night there with westerly winds up to 25 knots and seas to 4 feet washing into the bay. A bit further north and protected from south winds is Amontejado Bay where the guide indicates a mangrove swamp accessible by dinghy. We anchored and set out in the dinghy, checked out the mangrove estuary (not very exciting), walked the beach and watched Moshulu anchor close to us. The south winds should have been a omen because all night long we had a westerly wind blow directly into the anchorage causing 3-4 ft waves and had us hobby-horsing all night. Twice J-G had to repair the snubber after it snapped. Today it has been re-designed to withstand more abuse. This morning we had confirmation that the northerly blow is still predicted to arrive today or tomorrow so we sailed across the channel to San Evaristo and are comfortably anchored in the best sheltered area of the bay.
1140, Anchored in Puerto Ballandra, Isla Carmen
This section of the blog will be a long one due to the lack of internet service along the Baja coast. We are anchored in a snug and well protected cove directly across the water from Loreto waiting out yet another strong Northerly blow. It has been predicted for the past week and just began about an hour ago. Looks like another 2-day stay and a few boat projects can be scratched off the list.
This situation is much like our stay in San Evaristo. Although the seas were quite choppy we did go ashore for daily walks along the northern beach with the occupants of a few other boats. This area is renowned for agates and shells. We found lots of agates but our goal was the elusive paper nautilus which remains “elusive”. Rosie had a blast chasing seagull shadows on the beach and got her exercise in spades. It won’t be the same here as the island is part of a national trust and pets are prohibited ashore. She needs a rest anyway as she injured a paw on the beach at San Evaristo.
Besides Moshulu there were 7 other boats there and we met the people on Santosha, Sun Baby, Westerly, Sequoia and Sunnyside. Terry, on Sunnyside proved to be a very good encounter. He is a radio expert and has written an idiot’s guides including a handbook for the ICOM 802 SSB. He guided me through the setting up of a DSC complan on both SSB and VHF. I will be looking for his books on when I get back home. Details of his books and a lot of advice can be found at:
We departed before sunrise on Tuesday and into a very flat, calm sea, in company with Jerry and Gail (Moshulu). It remained that way all the way to Agua Verde. With the blow predicted for Thursday –Friday we wanted to get as far north as we could before taking refuge again. With that plan in mind we departed the next morning with us heading for Puerto Ballandra and Moshulu for a few days in Puerto Escondido, however, conditions were too good to miss the hot springs at Cosme . We both anchored close to the location given in the Guide and took the dinghy ashore. The spring is located on a short spit between a large rock and the shore. As you land you immediately see the volcanic rock formations weathered by time but still very obvious. In the middle of the spit is a ring of rocks around a small pool where streams of bubbles can be seen oozing out of the sandy bottom and there is a faint smell of sulphur in the air. Luckily we are at low water and a zero tide otherwise the pool would be underwater. The brackish water is just warm and only about 10 inches deep but digging down into the sand gets you to a much hotter layer. After an hour of basking in the pool with Moshulu and Tioga, who arrived just after we did, we weighed anchor and continued on our way. Another, tick in the box! We had always wanted to stop at this hot spring.
As we were getting the dinghy off the rocks J-G slipped and did a number on his right shin. Fran had to play nurse again to clean the wound. It doesn’t appear to require professional help but it will look like crap for the remainder of this trip and be another cruising battle wound.
It was another motorboat ride up to Ballandra and we arrived mid-afternoon. We are sharing the bay with 3 other boats so far. We are also in a good position for internet but the Telcel signal from Loreto, just across the water from us, is a weak one.
0730, 15 Apr 2011, Anchored Puerto Ballandra
It has been a very windy night. When the wind did arrive yesterday morning it built up quickly to 20-25 kts. By late afternoon we were seeing 30-35 and that lasted most of the night. About 0300 it calmed considerably and, at the moment is is only about 8 but starting to increase again. Should be another “stay on the boat and do stuff” day. Reports last night on the net indicated that this is a fickle system. In Agua Verde, just 30 miles south, the wind remained below 10 kts all day.
Hopefully we will be able to send this out today. If there are no photos attached it will be a signal strength issue. Should that be the case, photos will be added later on. Keep posted.

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