Sailing Vessel Warrior

Turtle Bay, Mexico

Wednesday November 1, 2006

Stormcat and Chetak arrived during the night. We try to arrive at an anchorage in daylight. We had timed our departure to arrive at Cedros in the early morning or later if there had been no wind. Since we had made good time we were able to go on to Turtle Bay expecting to arrive at dusk at latest. That had all worked out and we had had a good rest overnight. Chetak is slower and didn't have as many options. Maybe he should have stopped at the Island as first planned because Pat reported being overtired by the time the 2nd night came round. He later reported mild hallucinations approaching Turtle Bay - he looked up to see this massive wave about to break over his boat. He took evasive action but the wave took forever to arrive - it was the hills just north of Turtle Bay still hanging there waiting to break. After chatting to Stormcat on VHF he got his head back to normal and anchored safely in the Bay. Akio-san turned up during the day as did Serge and co. on Kolea. Dale Parrot Bayturned up a couple of days later. We have quite the travelling community.

We explored ashore, having breakfast and XXs at the cantina just on shore. We navigated through the dirt streets of this remote town and at the end of a track we found groceries, eggs etc. The houses are small and look poor but all the locals were neatly dressed, well fed and smiling. Plenty of fish out there! Any attempt to speak Spanish was met with lots of friendly help, especially from Norma the waitress/owner of the cantina.

Mainstreet Turtle Bay
Photo curtesy of Stormcat

Went up to the hotel that was to be the meeting point for the arrival of the Baja Ha Ha cruiser's race. The first boat to arrive had been Kialoa III during the night and we met her crew - a great bunch of people. Do you Aussies recognise the name? Kialoa III won the Sydney/Hobart way back in 1979. We had seen her docked in Newport a couple of weeks ago but had not made that connection. Great looking boat, kind of an 80 foot version of Warrior. And of course the skipper (can't remember his name) actually had raced on Warrior back in the 70s a couple of times (but more so subsequently on Al Castle's Warrior II he said. Of course Kialoa III had come directly from San Diego as part of the Baja Ha Ha rally. They described doing 14-15 knots on the Pacific side of Cedros Island (after we had gone by on the inside route) with two winged out jibs, one attached to a pole and the other to the winged out boom - sounds like the thing we should be doing since we have plenty of suitable jibs. They could not fly their spinnaker since they had trainee people on board. Why bother if you can go that fast with jibs. We will have to get those 50 lb poles in action for running down wind.

And what do you know, one of the crew revealed himself to be a Tasmanian, Craig Walker. He grew up on Flinders Island and his 90 year old mum is still there. He rolled his eyes when Robin mentioned Hagley and said his parents had wanted to send him as a boarder to Hagley Farm School (Robin's primary school) but that he had refused to go. His brother is Ken Walker now living in Westbury just a couple of miles from the Bendall family farm at Hagley (Hey, Allie, John and Glenn, do you know Ken? Say gidday etc to him if you do. Robin can't quite place him). Craig is a lovely fellow (a US resident for many years) and Robin had several conversations with him at Turtle Bay and subsequently when he kept running across Craig and his US wife, Rose on the streets of Cabo San Lucas.

Went back down to the bar on the beach front and sat watching the first dribblings of the Ha Ha fleet arriving. Our small travelling band of rebels have dubbed ourselves the Ya Yas or Ya Has or some such thing - all that chat on VHF!

Thursday November 2, 2006

Woke up this morning to a veritable city anchored behind us. When we arrived the other day there were just 5 boats at anchor including us. Now there must be over 100. Fortunately Bahia de Tortuga is immense and 100 boats, although a lot, doesn't even fill 1/10 of the bay. Southern Star arrived during the night and called past early this morning for coffee and breakfast. Our SSB radio had stopped behaving itself, so Mark went and fetched Walter from Ketch 22 and they worked for over 2 hours trying to get it back up and running to no avail. So we cooked them lunch, sampled some Mexican wines we'd picked up in Ensenada and organized, through Walter, to have another SSB radio shipped to us, probably in La Paz. Walter said it is the same dimensions as our defunct one and he "sold" it to us for 2 bottles of the Mexican red - we were a little embarrassed by this so added a bottle of Mexican port. Walter subsequently reported enjoying all of it. Then it was over to the bar on the beach for a relaxing afternoon of chitchat with some of the Ha Ha fleet. Life is one long party at the moment.

180 boats at anchor
Stick City
Photo Courtesy of Stormcat

Friday November 3, 2006

Today was the beach party for the Ha Ha fleet, and it was to be held over the other side of the bay on a huge sandy beach, so we upanchored and motored on over to gatecrash the party, although we had offically been invited. It was a sizeable event considering there were 180 boats in the fleet, and each boat had an average of 4 people on board. They organized various events including a tug of war between the guys and girls and naturally the girls won although admittedly it was a very stacked event. Rob from Moss Landing called by this morning and we were very surprised to see him. He'd delivered a boat down to San Diego and the owners (2 elderly ladies) decided he should come along for the ride to Cabo San Lucas so here he was. It was great to catch up with him again and we invited him over for dinner after the Beach Party and caught up on all the news/gossip from our old home port and updated him on various one's who've since left and we've kept in touch with. It's odd how this cruising community seems like an extended family.

Saturday November 4, 2006

The Baja Ha Ha fleet left this morning for Bahia Santa Maria, so we decided to hang around for another 20 hours or so and let them get ahead and out of our way. We would instead be heading for Asuncion, and then Abreojos so that should give them plenty of time to get to Bahia Santa Maria and then leave for Cabo thus ensuring our peace and sanity.

The rest of today was spent marking the charts, plotting courses and getting everything ready to go sailing again. We said our goodbyes to Norma at the bar, who has been an absolute delight over the last few days, teaching us Spanish and making our stay in Turtle Bay so enjoyable. Pat fell platonically in love with her several times.

Asuncion, Mexico

Sunday November 5, 2006

Sunrise, Baja California, Mexico
Sunrise Sunrise Looks like morning in your Eyes

Left Bahia de Tortuga in a 12knot wind bearing south at 134.5 degrees magnetic. Lost the wind at 7:00 am and finally turned on the engine. Until then we'd been doing around 8 knots. Ended up motoring 3/4 of the way to Asuncion, not really enjoying any wind until towards the end of the passage, where we were able to wing out the jib. We turned the point into Asuncion and naturally the wind gets up for the 4 mile run into the bay. Robin was determined to sail to anchor and was reaching in at 7.5knots. He was having fun at last.

On the way we had detoured a few miles to cross a sea mount which was supposed to have good fishing. We crossed it 4 times and did actually catch two fish - alas Pacific Banditos again! (We'll never be able to call them by their correct name of Bonito).

Just as we rounded the point we were hailed on the VHF channel 16 by an ex-cruiser who is now living here. She promptly invited us all to dinner and came down to collect us off the beach. The dinghy landing was rough, but Nelson from Stormcat did an admirable job of getting us all ashore in a reasonably dry state, quite a feat since he had to navigate some serious rocks. Leaving later that evening was a tad more difficult but again we all managed to stay reasonably dry. These dinghy landings are a lot more trouble than sailing 180 miles out of sight of land!

Bahia Santa Maria, Mexico

Monday November 6,2006

We were half planning to stay and explore Asuncion. But first Chetak and Stormcat headed out, Pat during the night and Nelson/Sandy early morning. Then the wind got up so we thought we may as well benefit from it and off we went. Sailed that day and night but then the wind died the next day.

During the first day we finally caught some new kinds of fish, well new to us. A small Mexican Bandito, a moderate Skip Jack tuna, and a beautiful Albacore. We ate a quarter of the Albacore immediately as sashimi and the rest the next day, all raw. Have yet to hook a Yellowtail but the Albacore seemed as nice to us as any Yellowtail from Japanese restaurants. However Robin is beginning to dream of Moos considering the present diet of fish, fish and then some fish. Again we had navigated to cross sea mounts but this time the fish were all caught in deep water away from the mounts.

Then on the 2nd day the sea was glassy. We get heartly sick of the sound of our diesel and Robin does not like depending on it. But we are not doing an ocean crossing and as always its best to arrive at the next anchorage in daylight. So we sail if we can do 3 knots and then motor at 4-5 knots without pushing the motor hard. THEN splish spash, jumping fish a couple of hundred (woops metres now we are in Mexico) to port. Robin did a quick u-turn and the fish continue to jump. And is that a greeny-gold dorado jumping just out of the water behind the fleeing fish? Thunk crash, first one bungy then the other - we hooked two Dorado (aka Mahi Mahi in Hawaii) almost simultaneously. Robin was worried they might get off so decided to bring the first into the cockpit. Michelle rapidly exits the cockpit yelling don't bring it aboard. We still have no gaff, but we do have the gardening gloves. The plan seemed good to Robin - just a pool of blood on the cockpit floor after using the bread knife, easily washed down the skuppers. A metre of fish comes aboard and before hitting the floor sprays/vomits blood everywhere on every surface. Bloody Hell cubed! It was Robin's bad decision and he cleans for an hour but we have the fish!

the mess to clean up
Blood n Guts Galore

By this time the 2nd one is a little weary. Back to the tried and true technique. Pull him in and drape him on the transom. Lean over, grab him firmly with the gardening glove (Moss Landing Rob had reported being bitten all over his chest by an errant Dorado in the cockpit) and saw with the bread knife. No Worries!! This guy was a 4 footer too. Our freezer and fridge overfloweth. No more fishing for the forseeable future. Where is Bloody Pat and his canning apparati?!

25lb Dorado
What a Beauty

And you should have seen all the other Dorados. As we pulled each one in another six followed nipping the tail of the poor hooked leviathan. For a couple of hours as the 2nd lay on the transom with its tail in the water more Dorado swam up to investigate. We could have caught dozens of the ugly handsome things. They were supposed to be excellent eating and proved to be just that cooked fresh. Subsequently we had some that had been frozen and it was ordinary, just like in a US restaurant. But later on, Michelle became an instant hit with the Ya Ha gang when she produced a Dorado fish curry.

Then as the day wained the wind picked up and we were on a nice broad reach into Bahia Santa Maria. Motoring we do the same speed as Chetak and we had been a mile or so away all day. But Pat was soon following once Warrior caught the wind. Night fell but no-one was concerned as Santa Maria was easy to get into and there would be 150 Ha Ha yachts all there with their anchor lights on. An hour before arrival Robin pleaded a quick lie down - aching legs would not go away. He immediately went to sleep. Woke up and we had overshot by a mile or so. Michelle had drifted off too. Need a better plan - that could have been the shore we hit but was no real concern this time since we missed a 150 degree turn and there was open water ahead. But we limped in behind Chetak since Pat did not go to sleep at the wrong time. Found some gaps amongst all those boats and headed to bed asap.

Dolphins playing in our bowwave
Friends dropped by to say Hello

Passage to Cabo San Lucas, Mexico

Wednesday November 8, 2006

The HaHa fleet mostly had gone by the time we got up. Pat on Chetak decided to go mid-morning. We were going to stay a day and probably go into Magdalena Bay. But then mid-afternoon the wind got up so again we decided to take advantage. Within a few minutes we had the sails fully up and we were off at 8 knots. The wind died for less than an hour during the night and then for two hours next day. Otherwise we had a terrific sail down the coast. Got the drifter up and working downwind - much easier to set in light winds than the heavier jib and easy enough to pull up on its own dedicated halyard/stay. The wind picked up during the second night on Michelle's watch. Woke Robin to get the drifter down in the dark and later put out the jib when it was Robin's watch.

The brown Baja Penisula
Dessert conditions of the brown Baja Coast

At some point we realised we had already crossed the Tropic of Cancer, and had missed the event by a few miles - did not feel the bump! Wind and speed kept increasing up over 8 knots as we rounded the southern Baja cape (Cabo Falso) just before dawn. Then the wind died completely as the sun came up and we motored the last couple of miles to the anchorage. As we entered the bay we were greeted by this enormous cruise ship anchored a mile off the beach in the middle of the bay.

Rounding Cabo Falso, Baja Penisula rocky outcrop, Cabo San Lucas entering the bay, Cabo San Lucas
Views from the tip of Baja Penisula

Of course with most of the Ha Ha fleet ahead of us it was very crowded. After touring around we finally anchored in 100 feet in a gap between all the other boats. Someone came round in a dinghy and said others had tried to anchor there but had given up. We were holding OK with 250 feet of chain out so did not bother to move.

Stayed a few days at Cabo. There was a party on the beach opposite the anchorage the second evening. Very pricy and touristy near the beach and marinas. Shared stories and restaurant meals with various crews, especially Pat and Mark. A couple of nights were very rolly in the anchorage on the incoming swell. Fixed a modest leak in the water maker so now that is working well as per technical specs. Did some shopping, a couple of dozen Chilean reds for the cellar, and got round to buying snorkelling gear. Water temperature had increased rapidly after Turtle Bay and was now hovering around 90 degrees in the anchorage. Finally we can enjoy swimming!

Woke up one morning disturbed by another smaller boat nearby unsuccessfully trying to raise its anchor. Uh Oh! Their attempts seemed to be moving our boat - a tangle? So we said we would pick up our anchor to help free theirs. After 50 feet our winch groaned to a halt. Of course this coincided with no oil showing in the winch's sight glass - the oil had been slowly weeping out and Robin had been keeping his eye on it. It didn't seem like the winch was over heating but to be conservative we began to wind in the chain manually (as at Cat Harbour). Heavy going! Transferred the cinch rope to the big winches in the cockpit. Heavy going, much heavier than the similar problem in Cat Harbour. Drove gently foward over the anchor and then let the boat jump back in reverse. Big clunk and the anchor came free. We then raised it with no further difficulty with the electric winch. Unfortunately, the second boat still could not get their's up. We motored off to get fuel and later anchor in a better spot (many boats had left by then) and later passed the second boat. They had failed - the shackle at their anchor finally broke and they lost their hardware. A couple of days later we heard of a 3rd boat getting stuck in the same spot. On pulling up their anchor they found they were snagged to half a ferris wheel. This time we were lucky!

Robin did an overdue overhaul of the electric anchor winch. There was still some oil in the gear-box so that had not been part of the problem. It seemed that the oil in the winch was too thin hence the slow leak past a seal. Replaced it with SAE 90 gear oil as per specs and also greased the seals with heavy duty marine grease. Two weeks later the leak has not re-appeared. But problems are still coming in pairs. Had recently realised that the hydraulic pump for the back-stay tension had been seeping oil. It suddenly got worse, drained the resevoir, and we lost ability to tension the stay. Was quickly fixed at the time with more oil but Robin pulled out the unit to diagnose the problem. Discovered it only leaks when the pump is used so we are keeping it continually tensioned at the moment. The company, Navtek, no longer seems to make these units and there is no advice on the net. Will dismantle the pump to replace seals when we are in port for a few weeks with hydraulic experts nearby. The maintenace list has yet to get smaller.

Los Frailes, Mexico

Tuesday November 14, 2006

We decided our next major destination would be La Pas, on the inside of the Baja Penisula. The entire leg is about 150nm from Cabo San Lucas but there are apparently some neat anchorages along the way so we'll be stopping here and there. First stop we determined would be Los Frailes (The Friars).

We left Cabo around 4:30am in the pitch black with a grumpy GPS unit which seemed to be rebelling against the hour of day it was asked to perform. Seemed to come right with a couple of sharp taps - bad electrical connection somewhere. But also armed with our trusty radar we decided to navigate by visual confirmation, and constantly checking the radar and depth for confirmation that we were on the right track. Need plenty of redundancy on a boat.

Had good wind to the first turning point. But then by Punta Pumilla it saw us beating close-hauled into 20knots of wind. We ended up double reefing the main and reefing in the jib to control heel angle since Michelle starts to grumble once we start sitting at a 20degree angle. We did 7.5 knots this way to Punta Gorda where suddenly the wind died. This lasted about 30 mins so after letting out the sails we finally turned on the iron gennie and Michelle went down to do some work on the computer. Mark Southern Star was a few hours ahead and had reported strong wind on the nose, but he was much closer to shore than us and we just weren't seeing it.

20 mins later Robin yells that he sees the next wind front incomming with lots of white caps and we quickly put up the staysail, and double reefed the main. Before we got the jib furled the 20+ knot wind hit and we took off. The wind was indeed exactly on the nose so we sailed close-hauled on our favourite starboard tack as close to the wind as possible. Basic trig says its quicker to do more than 6 knots at 45 degrees to the wind than motor at less than 4 knots directly into it. Nevertheless we were 10miles offshore by the time it seemed we could tack straight back into the Los Frailes anchorage. But it was a rough ride in crazy seas, with water crashing constantly over the bow. One rogue wave broke into the cockpit and doused Michelle completely tho' Robin standing right next to her escaped the waterfall. That's our first water into the cockpit. After turning it was clear we could not quite point high enough on the port tack so we started the motor and pulled in the jib so as to get as close as possible to the wind. We crawled in to Los Frailes about 3:30pm in the afternoon and it sure felt good to arrive. Had averaged 4 knots over the theoretical straight line route and had only motored for the last 3 hours. As far as we know, all the other 20 boats who left Carbo that day simply motor sailed up the coast. Robin was a little disappointed at not being able to sail the last tack (without another four mile dogleg) but we had done well compared to the average cruiser.

The anchorage was beautiful, with no swell and a slight breeze coming over the hills into the anchorage. It was a busy place, with over 30 yachts in the cove - unknown to us there had been a hurricane warning for Cabo San Lucas hence everyone was making their way to safer anchorages. It was of course very late in the hurrican season and the hurricane never did get close to Cabo. The bay however is more than capable of anchoring another 30 boats before it would be anywhere near crowded.

Wednesday November 15, 2006

Got up this morning and decided the boat needed some tlc and a good clean. We had cases of wine, purchased in Ensenada, along with more purchases acquired in Cabo, still stored under the saloon table, and up on the extra bunk, so we finally got it all sorted and stowed away. Then cleaned and polished the galley and tidied up.

The crews of Southern Star, Chetak and Warrior then decided we'd have a bonfire and cookout on the beach. Pat and Mark suddenly got it into their heads to invite the entire anchorage over, so it turned out to be quite a party. We collected wood on the beach all afternoon and by sunset we had enough driftwood stacked into a pyre to comfortably burn a witch or two. It was fun to meet people, putting faces to the names you only ever hear talking on the VHF. The bonfire party being a roaring success, we dubbed this crazy group of people the Baja Ya Ha's and ordained Pat from Chetak our Admiral. Tequila shots were handed around to celebrate his appointment and much merriment was had by all. We had thawed out a large quantity of tuna. Michelle curried some (receiving many compliments) and we grilled the rest to the rare point. Good tucker!

Thursday November 16, 2006

This morning the three main protagonists of this current episode of our journals, that would be Southern Star, Chetak and Warrior, decided to head around the point into the next bay where there is to be found one of the only 3 reefs in North America and the only one in Gulfo de California. We brought Warrior alongside Southern Star and loaded her crew (Mark, Molley and Kendall) aboard, then called by Chetak for Pat and set off for Cabo Pulmo. Inching Warrior in slowly we were able to get her to within 20 feet of the reef, which could clearly be seen in the water and after tossing the guys over board to check out the lay of the land underwater, we anchored her in 26 feet of sand, making sure the anchor chain was nowhere near the reef where it could do any damage. The guys set off to snorkel over the reef, with plenty of fishlife to keep them well entertained. Then we tossed 3-year old Kendall in the water in her innertube, which looked hilarious since we were about 2 miles offshore. She was like this little blip in this huge expanse of water. Robin did a hull inspection and there was good? news. The keel repair (Moss Landing) showed no signs of opening up again, but almost all our 4 zincs on the prop shaft had disappeared. That seemed very quick - just over 6 months, but we will now be in warmer water to easily keep a check on these things.

A booby decided to hitch a ride on the dinghy all the way around to the cove and back again which provided endless entertainment for Kendall. Thus having idled away the morning in such fashion we headed back around to Los Frailes, re-anchored and set about getting things stowed for an early am departure for Los Muertos, out next anchorage. It will likely be a 2am start.

Los Muertos, Mexico

Friday November 17, 2006

Headed around the coast to our next stop, Los Muertos. Another large pretty bay well protected from prevailing winds. Hot weather, swimming ... Have failed to catch any fish this side of Baja. Mark & Pat organised Beach Party take 2. Pat bought a beautiful Yellowfin for $10 off a local fisherman and that fed us all. Robin introduced everyone to Tequini's. No-one could tell he used the cheapest tequila for the 2nd batch but half the anchorage were cursing him the next day due to accute hangovers.

Los Muertos has one bar/restaurant and that's it. The Giggling Marlin, although a really great place to hang out, is truly expensive (California prices) but as it's the only thing for miles around, you take what you can get.

Balandra Cove, Mexico

Monday November 20, 2006

After lazing around Muertos for a couple of days, we all upanchored 2am in order to take advantage of the flood tide up the Cerralvo Channel, a 5mile (at the widest point) channel with a very strong current at times. We left with 5 boats who all decided our plan seemed sensible, with Warrior stealthing through the darkness like a white ghost (no motor as usual). We rounded Punta Ventana making good time and headed up into the channel.

The wind was fitful, but we gradually overtook Southern Star who was motor sailing every time we got up around 6 knots. Around 4:30am we were level and said hello on the VHF to Mark. Robin made a typical rude remark about motorists. Mark replied he had the engine on to recharge batteries and was actully in neutral. Robin said Uh! Huh! knowing the prop was turning - every time the wind decreased Southern Star caught up. Retribution came swiftly. A few minutes later on Southern Star Mark heard an enormous noise under his boat and at first thought he'd hit something. Turned out that he'd lost a blade off his propeller and thus could no longer motor. We radioed over and said we'd stay with them and sail the channel and thus began tacking back and forth wending our way slowly up the channel into a headwind. We thought that with a double-reefed main we would sail similarly to Southern Star and so be able to give Mark advance warning of conditions ahead.

Only problem was that Warrior could head up into the wind at least 10 degrees higher than Southern Star and thus we were able to climb out of the strait just as the wind shifted 30 degrees to the east. Southern Star wasn't so lucky being a few miles behind us by then. They tacked just a bit too close to the Island, lost the wind and landed in the opposing current ripping back along the shore of Cerralvo Island and started hurtling backwards. Unfortunately, by this time Warrior had hit good wind and surged ahead and were roughly 6miles ahead of Southern Star. Fortunately, Chessie, a large 52' Tayana, responded to Mark's pitiful cries for help, and as it so happened he couldn't have found anyone more capable of coming to the rescue. Richard, the skipper of Chessie was a retired captain of a commercial tow tug and he relayed some very specific instructions on how to prepare Southern Star for towing in sloppy seas. They were soon under tow at 6.5knots, thanks to Chessie's 90horsepower engine. Chessie towed them out of the lee of the island, and up to Punta Coyote, then cut them loose to sail in the freshening NE breeze. It was good that we did not have to turn back to help - at 45 horse power our motor really is an auxilliary. We would have been towing at 3 knots or less.

Warrior made good time and we rounded Punta Coyote heading into the narrow San Lorenzo strait, searching for the lighted buoys that were supposed to mark the passage over the very shallow bar into La Paz bay. The buoys no longer existed and the Channel had definitely shoaled since the chart datum. We were looking at 30feet of water and thinking this was getting quite shallow when one of the other boats we were travelling with suddenly cut across in front of us. They'd given themselves a huge fright hitting 14 feet of water and looking over the side at piles of rocks. We negotiated the pass and headed for Balandra Bay, a small tight little anchorage just north of the narrow La Paz channel. We anchored in the by now howling wind and waited for Southern Star to limp in. Robin and Pat from Chetak headed out to meet them in the dinghy and helped Mark anchor under sail with a lee shore about 200 yds south of them. When the hook grabbed the first time I think everyone breathed a huge sigh of relief. The anchorage was really uncomfortable with the swell sweeping into the little cove but that didn't stop the downing of a few refreshing ales. Just as everyone had gathered on Southern Star for a few drinks, these people from one of the huge powerboats anchored in the cove yelled over for help. They'd lost power to their engine so Robin went to their rescue and towed them back to their boat. They returned a while later and handed over a bottle of red wine. Good deal! Half an hour later we saw that their dinghy had got loose persued by a swimming adult - figured he could do with the exercise that time. Could happen to anyone couldn't it?

La Paz,Mexico

Tuesday November 21, 2006

This morning before leaving for La Paz, Mark, Robin and Kendall did a dinghy tour of Balandra, a really pretty bay, just 5 miles from La Paz but seemingly remote with very few people about. The next challenge was to get Southern Star upanchored undersail and out of the small cove. This would be a first for him and served to remind us that we all need to practice these skills before we actually need them in emergency situations. Lady luck shone one more time and Southern Star came up on a starboard tack as soon as the anchor came free and off they went this time heading for Marina Costabaja at the entrance to the Channel of La Paz.

Southern Star being towed by Valkyrie
Southern Star under tow by Valkyrie

After bandying around a few ideas on how to get Southern Star into the dock, Valkyriecame good and towed him into the fuel dock at the Marina and all came off without a hitch (no pun intended). When all was said and done, we all learned valuable skills from the whole experience. Even without the tow, Southern Star would have been able to turn up into the wind and anchor close by. So there were sufficient safe options. We headed on down the Channel to Marina de la Paz, a marina situated just past downtown and within easy walking distance. We will spend a week here and then head on up to Marina Costabaja which is out of town at the entrance to the channel.

Thursday November 23, 2006

Malecon in La Paz
Malecon in La Paz

There is a huge cruisers network here in La Paz, Mexico. Every morning at 8:00am, they give you everything from the weather, to local information, ask anyone if they need help with anything, welcome new people and support a local orphanage through raffles and auctions. They also organized a huge party for Thanksgiving. About 250 cruisers all gathered together at Marina Palmira, and we all brought a side dish of salad, potatoes, or dessert while turkey and gravy was supplied. The amount of food was both astonishing in quantity and quality. It was definitely a lot of fun meeting up with folks you'd only ever heard on the VHF radio and were now finally able to put face to voice.

group of cruising friends
The Baja Ya Ha's
Crews of Valkyrie, Stormcat, Chetak, Southern Star and Warrior

Monday November 27, 2006

We spent some great days over the last week chasing down that elusive thing called "draft" beer which seems to not exist in Mexico, and having a ton of fun nevertheless sampling various styles of Marguerita's, and some truly great food. So far Mexican food has been really very good. Have kept close to toilets on and off a few times, but so far nothing too painful for our digestive tracts.

street art La Paz Mexico street art La Paz Mexico street art La Paz Mexico
street art La Paz Mexico street art La Paz Mexico street art La Paz Mexico
street art La Paz Mexico street art La Paz Mexico
Mexico loves Artwork in the Streets

Caught up with Nelson and Sandy on StormCat (they had left Cabo and docked at Costabaja a few days before us). They came by one day in a rented car and took us and Pat on a 60 mile inland tour - it was good to have a change of scenery/transport but travelling in a car seems a bit odd and scary these days.

giant cactus Baja Penisula Mexico
Cactus cover the hills and
number in the 1000s
A truly impressive sight

Robin has been concerned about the engine coolant for several weeks but may have solved the problem. Coolant kept leaking out of the overflow pipe from the heat exchanger. So in San Diego Robin got a small overflow tank (as common in cars). Well as we motored after that, this overflow tank filled up and began to overflow - clearly there was raw sea-water leaking into the fresh water coolant. After some experimentation, discovered that it was probably leaking past a rubber boot that is supposed to seal the raw water from the coolant. Put on new ring clamps and it stopped filling the overflow tank. Finally, here in La Paz, Robin drained and flushed the coolant several times - of course this simple job is made hard by tight access to drainage points and it is not possible to drain all the coolant because the motor is tilted. So alot of drained coolant ended up in the sump drain box mixed with leaking oil ..... usual expletives. But hopefully this problem is now fixed and maybe salt water in the coolant explains the rapid loss of zincs.

Robin went on the VHF and asked if any cruiser had a hookah (yeah yeah we know what you're all thinking but you're wrong) - a compressor driven underwater breathing pipe. Lee on Capricious had one to borrow. So Robin dinghied over to the anchorage, picked it up and used it to dive on the prop and replace the zincs. Could have hired a local to do it for probably $20, but again we have to be able to do things like this in the middle of an ocean. It was all a bit fiddly, needing three hands and a mouth to hold screws, but of course the mouth was fully employed by the hookah and one hand was needed to hold on to the prop shaft. Managed to do it without dropping tools or screws in the mud. The compressor was petrol driven so noisy. We think we need to buy a 12v battery driven hookah for these jobs even if we also get scuba gear. You can always put a battery in a dinghy and use the hookah for shallow reef diving so maybe we would then have little use for heavy scuba gear. Guess we will find out with more experience.

Tuesday November 28, 2006

Our second week in La Paz was spent at Marina Costabaja, a modern resort, which includes motel, swimming pools, bars, restaurants etc.

Marina Costabaja Marina Costabaja Marina Costabaja
Marina Costa Baja

It would have been a very civilized holiday except for a couple of dry northerly storms that ripped through bringing with it enough dust to completely cover the inside and outside of the boat with white powder. Have enjoyed the restaurants here - one in particular at the marina with a menu duplicated by a second restaurant in La Paz has lamb, duck, partrige and great thin-crust pizzas. La Fonda in La Paz has great "home-cooked" Mexican food at very low prices, like less than $10 for a 3 course meal. Nelson and Sandy also found a great beef taco place. The beef is called Arrachero (skirt steak) and was very tender barbecued. So we found the shop that sells the meat in bulk and got 5 vacuum-packed lots for the freezer. Having caught up on eating red meat we are now ready to catch more fish!