La Paz, mexico

Tuesday May 1, 2007

The usual temperature here goes something like this. 90degrees during the day, which means you work outside for short periods of a time then take refuge for a bit then work a bit more. Then the Corumel wind picks up at sundown and blows the entire night through to around 9am or so in the morning, dropping the temperature to around 60degrees. That 30degree change in temperature is very disconcerting. I think if we weren't still frozen at the core we'd appreciate the cooling off but we're still hankering after some truly hot days where you don't ever have to scurry for a sweater.

Wednesday May 2, 2007

Managed to phone Jade today on Skype. Haven't been able to use Skype for phone calls other than 1 800 numbers back to the US of A which has been most inconvenient. However, since changing all our addresses back to Australia, the internet has decided it hates to do transactions and we can't buy Skype minutes. It's been painful all around. We're still working on a solution. It will be good to be able to phone Australia using Skype and have a decent conversation with the rels.

Meanwhile Robin did some maintenance for a few days. First job was to clean up the diesel spill which had gone through half the bilge in the boat during the rough crossing from Mazatlan. This was the third major clean of this kind and took most of a day. The good part was diesel, being a solvent, got into corners and removed a few handfuls of grease from places we could not reach previously and so cleaned up some more of the mess that came with boat. Also turned out that the spill was "not our fault" - it had dripped out around the seals under two of the inspection ports on top of the main fuel tank. Since this was the first time that we had had a full tank, and been heeled in rough weather at 20 degrees (both port and starboard) it was the first time the diesel had come into contact with the top of the tank for long periods of time. So it was a previously unknown problem that came with the boat and partly explains the extensive gunk that had been throughout the bilge. It is a fibre-glassed marine-ply tank and some of the screw-holes around the ports had become "unthreaded" and no longer took tension. So applied penetrating epoxy, then filled the holes with normal epoxy and redrilled the holes. Did not work perfectly since the ply was internally saturated via with diesel via the broken holes so the epoxy did not set hard in places and kept being pushed out in various places by the high vapour pressure of the diesel before the epoxy could harden. We weren't prepared to sit waiting for a Mondayth till it all dried so used oversized screws in the remaining few holes that would not grab the thread under severe tension - finely calibrated wrist action. The original rubber seals had swelled by 20% - inappropraite rubber for diesel. Robin visited several Ferretarias (hardware shops) around town looking for better rubber - there was much splaying hands and shaking of heads. Brought back a few samples and dunked them in diesel overnight along with a cured sample of marine silicone sealant - all except the silicone swelled so that is what we used when re-seating the inspection port plates. (A Mondayth later having re-filled the tank and heeled for a while we have no leaks!).

The other main job was to diagnose why the engine was running hotter than normal. Suspected a partial blockage in the raw-water intake hose since the manual saltwater pump to the galley sink no longer worked while the engine was running indicating too much negative pressure. So removed the hose and found it to be full of those 1/4 to 1/2 inch barnacles we had grown by the thousands while anchored in Zihuatanejo. That bit was easily fixed but then what about the thru'-hull and stopcock? So borroWednesday a hookah from another boat in the marina and went down to unscew the "clam-shell" bronze grid covering the raw-water intake. Screws came out easy enough (just as in Moss Landing on the hard) but the clam-shell was still firmly attached via paint to the hull. Got large screw driver and Michelle's trusty 5lb dumbbell but unfortunately the clam-shell detached with the first thump. What do you drop? The screwdriver, the dumbbell or try to swim rapidly down after the clam-shell while getting the other two objects in one hand? Of course a piece of string tied to the clam-shell would have been a wise precaution. The ill-prepared maintenance fellow couldn't swim quickly down after the clam-shell because he was plastered to the hull by buoyancy. We don't yet have a weight belt and so Robin usually uses the two of Michelle's dumbbells tied to a leather belt when doing these jobs under the boat. He figured it was only 15 feet down so no problem to find it later. Later he hit the bottom head-first before he saw it - visibility down there in the marina was 6 inches. He dived many (10?) times over several days but never found it - light blue, looks a bit like a shell. Had a $13 replacement but then not much good of attaching that without first painting with anti-fouling paint. So its a good idea to keep some in a small can after the last bottom job.... So he went across the small bay to the local haul-out place and encouraged a guy to donate a few mls for the purpose. HE was doing the bottom of a big trawler-like M/V. Interestingly, HE had a wee paint-brush attached to a piece of wire that he shoved up each orifice in the hull. Robin was a bit dubious about the efficiency and advisability of that method. The black goo HE was using (or at least the local temps were applying with drips falling all over them) was of the toxic variety, illegal in the US, which is supposed to deter barnacles (since heard that the US navy is alloWednesday to use it). We figure that next time we do a bottom job we will use the black goo (or equivalent), illegal in the US or not, and temporarily remove and pour some down each vital intake pipe to coat the inside.

Paradoxically, one criticism in the boat Survey (when we purchased it) was that the intake for the galley sea-water pump and the frig cooling should not share the intake for the engine. In our case we heard funny noises from the frig water pump, then the engine overheated a bit and we diagnosed the problem because the galley pump would not work as before (which also indicated why the frig pump was making noises but seemed OK when dismantled). So we have two early warning indicators of engine water-intake problems. We should drill another hole in the hull for the frig/galley intakes and buy a $1,000 vacuum guage for the engine intake line?! Lets keep it simple.

Meanwhile, Robin has mentioned the barnacle-up-your-orifice problem to several other cruisers. They were all blase about it, or in denial, and all using US paint. But from several sources we have heard the following tale of one way to lose your boat: You are anchored, the wind gets up unexpectedly to gale force directly onshore. Your anchor begins to drag and so you begin to motor into the wind eventually at full power. The engine overheats and stops and no-one knows why...

Thursday May 3, 2007

Michelle worked on the web today. As a reward, Robin surprised her by taking her into town to an Italian pizza place (Pizza in La Paz is surprisingly good) then on to a fiesta along the Malacon where they had trade stalls set up. We bought a couple of malacas, a new shirt for Robin and a headband for Michelle. We couldn't work out at first what the celebration was all about, but it seems that it was the Celebration of La Paz gaining independence and it was its 472nd Anniversay. Every birthday they elect a Queen for the year and so we got to see the Queen being crowned with much pomp and cereMondayy, then fireworks exploded behind her creating this surreal backdrop. The one thing you can say about Mexicans, they definitely know how to party.

Friday May 4, 2007

Today was the mega reprovisioning day which saw us stocking up for the next three Mondayths that we will be spending in the Sea of Cortez. We plan on anchoring out a lot in tiny coves on small islands so staples needed to be stocked in case we don't come across fresh food. Was an interesting exercise considering our main diet is mainly fresh food and vegetables.

Michelle caught the shuttle back with all the groceries and 3 dock cart trips later managed to get it all on the boat. It took the next three hours to find enough cubby holes to store everything and make sure that the boat didn't lean one way or the other due to stacking too much on one side. Then just to make sure we'd not done enough things in one day, we invited George, Melinda and Joshua from Southern Bell and Gerry from Destate over for a bbq dinner with wine and George dragged out his guitar and began singing bawdy sailor songs. Was a hilarious evening.

Saturday May 5, 2007

We had a day off today. Read books, recovered from the night before, Robin worked a little bit on the webpage (ya don't faint people, he did write a few sentences to April's logs) then headed on over to the palapa for a couple of Margaritas. We met up with Vic and Roberta off Apollo and after a couple of refreshing ritas, we headed on over for fish tacos which were delicious. A very relaxing day all told. This cruising life is rough going. Takes a lot of energy to keep partying like this!

Sunday May 6, 2007

Last minute boat maintenance today as we plan to leave La Paz either tomorrow afternoon or very early Tuesdayday morning depending on when we get the sail back.

Monday May 7, 2007

Last minute fresh produce shopping, Michelle had to stock up on her favorite drink - Campari, then we stopped to pick up the resewn mainsail, and back to the boat to unpack everything and get it stoWednesday. Snug Harbor Sails did a great job repairing the sail and even put leather on rub patches for free. He really went over the tired old sail and gave her a nice buff job. Hopefully she'll hang in there a while longer for us. Did our clearance from the Marina, talked to Jade and Mel on Skype, tried to get April's logs finished but we failed but we have at least dented the project, ate dinner and passed out. We are now determined to write these logs every day at the end of the day. We'll see how long it lasts lol. There went Mondayday, a whirlwind of activity.

Isla Partida, Mexico

Tuesday May 8, 2007

Woke up early this morning to find the security guy had been waiting for us to hand in our gate keys for over an hour. Ooops! We had originally planned to leave very early around 5:30am but we didn't wake up. Oh well he wasn't too upset. Michelle needed to go to the banyo before handing in her key and the security chappy took her in the go cart. It felt like those bumper car rides at the show as he raced up and down those tiny walkways. He was having fun anyway.

We finally left the slip at 7:30am this morning and headed out to Partida. This anchorage would be the last of our previously visited spots before we tackle something new. We're excited about exploring the Sea of Cortez. It's been a long time coming.

We got 2 good hours of wind before it died. We flopped around for another hour or so then decided to motor the rest of the way to Partida Cove, an ancient volcanic crater. We ducked in between Isla Bellena and the shore which was a nice diversion. The cliffs on entering Partida Cove look like some funky kind of chocolate blamange with burnt sugar icing on top. We got the boat anchored, ate some lunch, tidied up a bit while checking the boat wasn't going to go anywhere then tossed the dinghy in the water and headed out through the gap between the islands of Partida and Espiritu Santo, which is passable only by dinghy, and onto the Eastern side. Once there we turned right motored over huge boulders that had fallen from the cliffs above and explored some sea caves in the cliffs which were truly spectacular. It was mirror calm with no swell so we were able to dinghy into two large caves and went ashore in one.

After exploring we headed back to the boat and decided on the spur of the moment to up anchor and head a bit further up the island to Ensenada Grande, another little bay which we thought (silly us!) would be quieter. We got there and there were already 9 boats anchored with one more arriving later on. Ah well we found a spot to anchor and sat with a rewarding cocktail watching to make sure the anchor wasn't going to drag. Always a favorite pasttime for the first 30mins or so. We knew the anchor had set well but we always go through this routine nevertheless. One day I'm sure it will pay off although I hope never to see the anchor drag.

We then hopped in the dinghy and explored the 2 closest beaches and cliffs. We were amazed to see the varieties of cactus on the cliff faces. We counted 7 different species from the tall cathedral cactus, prickly pear types, to small aloe vera type plants which throw out huge flower spikes about 8feet high. Back to the boat, cooked dinner and promptly fell asleep. Will be back to anchor watches now though and they are calling for a Corumel. Fun fun!

isla san francisco - the hook, mexico

Wednesday May 9, 2007

Corumel kicked in around 11:30 last night but it wasn't too bad. It gusted to about 25knots at times but the anchor was set well and we didn't budge all night. The wind was from the best direction as expected, from over the nearest cliff. Not that either of us got much sleep (the usual story the first night out after being traumatised into insensitivity in a marina, but we didn't feel threatened at all.

We upanchored at 6:45am and headed for Isla San Francisco. There is a hooked shaped cove for an anchorage, and a beautiful white sandy beach. Alas again there were 9 boats already at anchor, and although the cove could take probably up to 20 comfortably we were hoping to get away from the boating crowd for a bit. We had a beautiful morning's sail. Took just 3 hours to cover the 17.6NM distance, the South-Westerly Corumel holding long enough for us to arrive at the anchorage.

We caught a Mexican Bonito on the way across (actually 3 but we threw 2 back) and Michelle cooked some Sushi rice, got out the seaweed sheets, wasabi and sesami seeds and made sushi, her first attempt and it was pretty damn tasty (A Mondayth later after catching no more fish on lures over the stern we are wondering why we threw 2 back).

After lunch we headed ashore and found that Southern Bell had anchored while we had been dowm below. We thought they'd have been further up the Sea by now so were pleasantly surprised. George and us climbed the hill to the top and tried to take some decent photos of the area. It was a magnificient view with the stratified mountains of the Baja mainland as backdrop, the turquoise waters of the cove and the dark shape in the water being thousands of fish, all desperately trying not to be dinner for the couple of hundred pelicans and seagulls gorging themselves. Every 15 minutes or so an edge of the School would get too close to the surface and the wheeling pelicans would drop at the rate of 2 or 3 a second.

The beautiful mountain range across the water on the Baja Penisula
The pelicans finally managed to separate a small group of fish and the feeding frenzy began in earnest!

On the way back down we took a circuitious route and this time at least got a few shots of the plant life.

Various plantlife, different again from the day before on Isla Partida

Sunset saw us having drinks on Southern Bell, and we ended up the night BBQing some burgers and drinking a couple of bottles of red wine. The night was so calm, not a breath of wind and we slept like babies, the end to a perfect day.

Isla San Jose - Amortajada Bay, Mexico

Thursday May 10, 2007

We had a very lazy start to the morning, with breakfast and coffee in bed for Michelle (what a princess!) and then we lazed reading books till around 10am when we decided we should make the effort to get up. We lifted the hook around 11am after getting the boat in order, raised the jib and bobbed our way over to Isla San Jose, just a 3.5nm hop today so we were in no hurry.

Dropped the hook in a beautiful turquoise shoal (whoops, forgot to get a picture of that), the water outside of it being quite deep. Michelle cooked chicken quesadillas for lunch then we jumped in the dinghy and headed over to yet another mangrove estuary. We took the fishing rod, a bucket and the camera but we weren't really expecting much different from other mangrove estuaries we'd seen. We were to be pleasantly surprised. The short river estuary emptied out into this wonderful lagoon on the other side of San Jose Island, the seaward edge of the lagoon being formed by a long narrow spit of gravelly rock, all that divided it from the ocean. The entire rock wall was a supurb feat of nature.

Michelle drove the dinghy, Robin worked the fishing rod and the camera. We trolled along the mangrove edge in the lagoon and success! We caught our first different type of fish since December. It was a small Pacific Dog Snapper (we think), perfect breakfast size. After trolling a few more times we caught another small one but Michelle took pity on him and tossed him back - he needed to grow up a bit. After tiring of fishing we landed the dink and explored the rocky breakwater for a wee bit, then found another exit on the beach side and ported the dinghy through it over 6 inches of rushing incoming tide and circumnavigated the entire spit back to Warrior. A couple of cocktails later taking in a perfect afernoon sunset, a lamb dinner cooked by Robin and a bottle of red wine, a perfectly serene anchorage, the white noise of thousands of little fish jumping all around, life is so tough. Ah yes it was too good to be true. Sandflies from the mangroves - jejenes or noseeums for you non-Aussies (we saw 'em, heard 'em, squashed 'em, repelled 'em and hid under the sheet from 'em - all unsuccessfully) - woke us up about 1am when the wind died and thus we endured a few tortuous hours till daylight.

The proud catch

Evaristo Bay, Mexico

Friday May 11, 2007

Robin cooked the fish for breakfast this morning along with eggs. After having feasted we gathered up all the snorkelling gear, got dressed in our new lycra suits (Michelle got stung by a jelly fish the other day so we figure it's time to start using them) and we dinghied across to the rocks in the middle of the bay.

These rocks are known by the grand name of Isla Cayo. We snorkled off the point in the last picture.

The snorkelling on the north tip was reported to be good and it didn't disappoint us. We saw substantial groups of fish, and at least 25 different varieties scattered over the rocky reef, along with a couple of forms of coral and starfish. We lasted about 30mins in the water even with the extra warmth from the lycra suit. It is still a bit too cool for us to really enjoy the water and we froze dinghying back to Warrior. Took a quick shower to rid ourselves of salt, upanchored and headed 7nm back to the Baja Mainland to San Evaristo Bay, a tiny bay with an even tinier village and a dirt track leading out of the mountains, it's only access to other parts of the penisula. Robin had sprayed the inside of the boat just before we went snorkelling, but a few jejenes survived and travelled with us most of the way.

Robin went ashore chasing beer, (he'd left La Paz without a single beer onboard - what was he thinking!) and returned with a sixpack which cost him a dollar per beer. Not cold though as the entire village had no electricity that he could tell. We spent a relaxing afternoon reading, Michelle cooked Spaghetti Bolognaise for dinner and that ended another perfect day in paradise.

Nopolo/Isla San Diego, Mexico

Saturday May 12, 2007

Decided to move on a bit again today so we are making a huge jump up the coast a whole 6nm to Nopolo, what they call a roadside anchorage as there is no shelter. But Michelle got up this morning and listened to the weather on the SSB Radio and there is to be no significant weather and no wind either for the next week so open anchorages are more than do-able under such conditions. In fact probably the only time we could do them. We sailed up along the coast line just enjoying the everchanging scenery. Every mile there was a completely new view. Guess it happens in a car too but the views flash past with incomprehensible rapidity

Towering mountain peaks, valleys, everchanging rock formations, weathering effects, layers of color in bands of sediment, sparse but diverse vegetation
Our camera work cannot do it justice

We got to nopolo which consisted of a few houses on shore, no electricity and 60feet of water close into shore, and then we caught sight of Isla San Diego, 11nm across San Jose Strait and we couldn't resist so instead of anchoring at Nopoolo we kept going. San Diego is reported to have honeycomb caves on the reef end (west) of the 1mile long island and thus is great for scuba diving. We're hoping to be able to snorkle it as we have no scuba gear with us at the moment, something we need to rectify.

Need a getaway spot - I have just the place for you. No phone, no electricity, no road access, no cars!

Got a reasonable breeze across and we sailed completely round the island to the north west side and dropped the hook in 32 feet of water. It was still quite hot at 5:30pm so we decided to clean some of the rest of the hull. The visibility was the best we've had for a while now, making the chore that much easier. We had a lovely sunset calm evening again until around 8:30 when suddenly the wind picked up to only about 10knots but straight from the south west, bringing with it an annoying little chop. Not the most comfortable anchorage but in these conditions we were safe enough. It is a very marginal anchorage though for anything stronger than 10knots of wind. There was also a current running through here which is only about 1.5knots at the moment. This could easily be a 3 to 4 knot current during more extreme tides, thus I doubt this anchorage is doable much of the year.

Isla San Diego with Isla with Isla Santa Cruz seen behind it. We anchored around the other side between the two islands.

Bahia Los Gatos, Mexico

Sunday May 13, 2007

This morning we still had up to about 8 knots of wind and seas still choppy which effectively meant the snorkling was a no go. We wouldn't be able to see zip in the stirred up water. So we looked at our itinerary and decided to head to Los Gatos next, 13.5nm back across to the Baja penisula, and apparently good snorkling around the rocky shoreline. On the way over, Robin decided he'd fix another couple of dinghy leaks which have been plaguing us for the last few weeks. That effectively kept him out of trouble for the next couple of hours.

There were already 4 boats in the northern anchorage of Los Gatos and we kind of groaned as we've become quite partial to being the only boat around. We tucked into a spot and enjoyed a couple of hours before the wind kicked up again bringing with it an annoying little swell just at the wrong resonance for Warrior which was sent rocking back and forth. This would endure the entire night. Late this afternoon a panga arrived with fresh Banded Pargo and we decided to buy a fish off him since we'd not caught any the last day or so. Robin wrapped it in foil and BBQ'd it later. While we were talking to the panga guy, Robin brought out the fish identification book and the guy looked through it till he found the exact fish we were looking at. The first one Robin pointed out wasn't right and our panga friend was determined to find just which one it was. Anyway while talking to him he suddenly says, "Would you like some lobster? (in Spanish)". We thought he was going to bring it tomorrow but he immediately turned around and went zipping across the bay to find fresh lobster. An hour later he came back with a defeated look on his face - he could only find one large one (about half the size of a good Tassy crayfish). It was like gold to us. We bartered some gasolina for the lobster - about 2 dollars worth of fuel (all we could spare). Bargain! But he was so happy - he must have really needed the fuel. He was a different kind of fisherman to the ones we have seen - he was by himself (there's normally 2 or 3 in a panga and he clearly fished by free diving wetsuit, a couple of spears.

Monday May 14, 2007

It was still blowing a fairly brisk wind this morning and the anchorage had this choppy little swell coming into it making things a bit annoying but we thought we'd try and snorkle over on the more protected side of the bay. We dinghied over, got our gear on, jumped in and explored the area for a bit. There were only 3 types of fish there, a King Anglefish in all his stunning colors, Panamic Sergeant Majors, the males of which turn blue when breeding, the rest silver, bright yellow with black stripes and another little brown fish with yellow etchings around his tail that we can't positively identify but we're thinking was a Pacific Beaubrummel. We are ticking them all off in our fish book as we come across them. Other than starfish it was a little barren and too cold to stay for long.

Agua Verde, Mexico

We got back to Warrior and noted the wind was definitely picking up from the South so we got everything stowed away, put the dinghy up on deck, up anchored and headed on out. The wind was more or less directly behind us so Robin decided to play with a new rigging system which alloWednesday him to effectively pole the jib out on the end of the boom rather than on a spinnaker or whisker pole. It seemed to work and with a few modifications could be made quite safe. Not sure we'd use it in heavy weather or where squalls were possible but up in the benign weather of the Sea of Cortez it seemed ok. No doubt the pros who know about sailing would probably think we were nuts.

Round Marcel Reef we ended up on a beam reach and naturally Warrior was like a race horse out of the gates, she took off. In a matter of 30 seconds we were doing 8 knots towards the shore which was just 2 miles away. Ok time to take down the jib and get things slowed down a bit. I think Warrior actually pouted at that point.

Tonight we ate like kings - lobster and steak washed down with a wine from Chile. Anyone want to join us ?

Tuesday May 15, 2007

We had a slow morning this morning relaxing until it got warm enough to dare the water. We finally got up enough courage to attempt it around 11:30am and headed over to a group of rocks in the anhorage here. The snorkling turned out to be surprisingly good. The reef around the rock headland is quite well developed, supporting various forms of coral, 3 different types of starfish, and we counted and identified over 20 different varieties of fish. We snorkled for just over an hour, after which time we were freezing and Michelle could barely haul herself back into the dinghy. We headed back to Warrior and Michelle cooked a chicken curry to help us warm up. Spent the afternoon doing some research on where to go next and fixing a couple of minor items. Cocktails at sundown, a salad watching the sun set rounded out the day. 8:30 saw us tucked up in bed for the night exhausted. How can one be so tired after accomplishing so little!

Wednesday May 16, 2007

We had one more area we wanted to check out before leaving Agua Verde so we jumped in the dinghy this morning and headed out to Roca Solitaria just off the North Western tip of the bay. The snorkling out there was awesome and we managed to identify a few more fish which we ticked off in our fish guide. Robin tried out his spear gun but alas he caught us naught for dinner - everytime he fired a spear the fish moved! Went back to the previous spot onshore and snorkelled some more. Robin had found some fish spawning sites the day before and Michelle had to see this - the little stripy Sergeant Majors had dug shallow pits about 6" deep every few feet where the underwater rocks met the sandy bottom and there they were one for each nest patrolling above their eggs, a kind of pinkish discolouration over the bottom of the nest. Robin went looking for beer again in the local village but it was a dry town. Brought back a couple of small Colorado Snappers (the local fishing pangas arrive around 3 pm with their catch) for brakfast.

Roca Solitaria

We decided to hang out in Agua Verde for one more night and head on out first thing in the morning. Michelle spent the afternoon playing the guitar, Robin read a book. The sunset was absolutely gorgeous tonight. We sat out on the stern of the boat with our wine and whiled away the rest of the evening.

Isla San Cosme/Mano De Dios (Hand of God Cove), Mexico

Thursday May 17, 2007

We up anchored by 9am this morning and headed over to Isla San Cosme, just off San Cosme point, dropped the hook in a little cove and went to explore a jumble of rocks just off the northern tip of the island which looked like it might have some interesting snorkling. The visibility wasn't so great though and a current was running through there making it a wee bit of a challenge to distinctly identify fish. There were two fisherman fishing off the rocks and they were a joy to watch. They hauled in a banded pargo every 30 seconds or so, just using hand lines and live bait. The water around the rocks was quite deep and they certainly knew how to fish it without snagging their lines.

Having finished scouting the area we jumped back on Warrior hoisted the dinghy aboard and coasted along the shoreline up to Punta Calanderos, a further 7.5nm north. There was no wind and glassy flat seas which made it easy for us to cruise in close along the shoreline. We passed inside Roca Blanca (yes another white rock /boggle) our destination being Mano de Dios - the Hand of God, a little cove just south of the Point large enough for 1 or 2 boats to swing.

We pulled around into the cove and found Southern Bell anchored there but since they were a catamaran they were tucked up almost on the beach so we had plenty of room to pull in and anchor. Jumped in the water and scouted out the cove but again it's so cold we could only manage to remain in the water for about 20mins. Robin managed to put the clam-shell strainer back on the water intake, a task which took 3 times longer trying to do it snorkling than when he had borroWednesday the hookah to remove it. He late confessed that the act of diving down into this other universe to then come face-up under the hull with positive buoyancy disoriented him so that he twice screWednesday the clam-shell on the wrong way round - finally he had to keep reciting to himself that the pointy bit was the front of the boat and then Maybe by random chance he got it right.

Sunset saw us on the beach playing bocce ball with the Southern-Bellers and we ended up back over on the cat for dinner yet again - well these cats do have more room!

Bahia Candelas, Mexico

Friday May 18, 2007

We were a little slow this morning owing to the merry time we had last night. Michelle decided it was a good time to catch up on some chores so pulled out the pile of ropes that needed whipping, then cleaned the carpets the old fashioned way, by beating them over the back rail of the boat. Got the rest of the boat in order and then did some guitar practice. Robin hiked up the side of the cliff to get some pics and when he got back decided he'd attempt spear fishing. He caught one poor little damsel fish and Michelle almost cried. He's determined to eat it too. After 3/4 hour he'd not caught anything else and he was shivering with cold so we decided enough and upanchored and headed around the point to the other side, Candelas Cove just for a change of scenery.

The view from the top
Mano de Dios Cove - There were actually 3 boats anchored here.
We were in 35 feet of water.
Clear water - you can see the bottom even from the top of the hill Robin climbed.

We had our first bee problem around here. Michelle had taken a shower and the tiny bit of fresh water left in the bilge drew them like a honey pot. We ended up closing up the front hatch and praying for dark to descend so they'd go home to bed. We've been really careful up to now about wiping out the sinks and keeping everything dry so as not to attract them. We will be showering on deck from now on that's for sure as a boat full of bees is not our idea of fun.

Isla Danzante - Honeymoon Cove, Mexico

Saturday May 19, 2007

This morning the bees came a calling again (they had recorded our position in their previous day's logs) so we pulled out around 9 am and headed up to Honeymoon Cove on Isla Danzante Primero (Prima Ballerina), just 6miles off the coast of Puerto Escondido which will be our next stop as we are in need of dinghy fuel. We got there and there wasn't one boat in the anchorage. Bonus! It seemed odd though since everything we'd read about this cove indicated that it was a continually packed anchorage. We actually questioned ourselves as to whether it was the right cove or not. Did we somehow make a mistake and read the chart wrong. Once we were sure we dropped the anchor but weren't really pleased at the holding. It seemed kind of spongy and the anchor certainly didn't grab like it has been doing up the coast. We picked it up and redid it but again weren't 100 percent happy with it. If the wind picks up we'll duck back across the bay to Puerto Escondido and the anchorage there known as the Waiting Room.

One of the little islands sitting in the middle of the channel.

Isla Carmen - Bahia Marquer, Mexico

Sunday May 20, 2007

Michelle spent a fairly restless night on anchor watch last night. The wind swung around and came in from the West although not strong but enough to push us back towards the shore and into shallower waters. Around 5am she pulled in 10feet of chain as an extra precaution since the tide was at it's lowest point at 7:15 and we were sitting in 14 feet of water. With a 9foot keel that leaves us just 5 feet of water spare which is enough but we prefer a little more safety margin than that when there's rocks around and they weren't far away.

We ate breakfast, got ourselves organized and set off for Puerto Escondido where we thought we'd buy dinghy fuel since we were running very low. We got there and the Mexican working the fuel dock advised us not to buy it there as he was obliged to charge 20% extra for handling. Get it from Loreto he says. The Waiting Room anchorage wasn't at all appealing to us so we pulled up the hook and headed on over to Bahia Marquer on Isla Carmen, a 6.5nm hop to the North East. We actually would have run it at about 8knots if we'd had the mainsail up but we were under jib alone, which we had to reef/furl in because we were towing the dinghy and it wasn't happy being toWednesday that fast in a choppy sea. We rarely do this as it's too much stress on the old girl but we figured for 6nm it wouldn't be too much of a problem. We sloWednesday the boat back down to 4knots and made the dinghy was happy. A mile out from Marquer. We saw another yacht heading for the anchorage and suddenly he took off doing about 8.5 knots. He was damn sure he was going to overtake us and have the pick of the anchorage. It is one of Robin's favourite line's: Look there's a yacht on the horizon on our starboard side, it will soon be motoring at full power to cross our bow and get to the anchorage first. There are variations where the other yacht drops their sails to be able to motor faster. You May guess at the invariable nature of the flag they fly. We just laughed as we never anchor close in anyway and most other boats seem to like having one foot on the shore. The wind blew through the anchorage until about 8pm but it was great holding sand and we were comfortable hence we slept like babes through most of the night.

Loreto, Mexico

Monday May 20, 2007

Robin woke Michelle up this morning with breakfast and got her moving so as to head on over to Loreto early. We needed to restock our fresh provisions as we were running low after 12 days in anchorages with no village shops to purchase goods from. It will be like this from now on through to the end of September when we head back South again. At first we thought we'd only be able to anchor for a few hours as the anchorage in Loreto is an open roadstead, where brisk winds pick up every afternoon. It's not recommended to anchor here overnight according to the cruising guides. However the wind wasn't even blowing 10knots this afternoon and the power boat we talked to on arrival said they'd been anchored here the last two nights with no wind and zero swell.

We jumped ashore, the first time in more 10days we'd been in a town. Our main goals were to grab some food, fill up the jerrycan with dinghy fuel and find a tackle shop for a few more fishing supplies. We've been sadly deficient in catching fish lately and figured we needed to augment our supplies. We found an internet cafe but it was closed - siesta time. Having achieved the other 3 goals we headed on back to the boat just in time for the wind to start blowing. We watched it throughout the rest of the afternoon and figured we were going to be ok so opted to stay the night. It turned out to be a good choice as the wind swung around coming straight from the West off the land at 25knots. We therefore got the wind with no waves, but the guys out on the islands got a little hammered with wave action. We jumped ashore quickly just before the wind shift and had dinner at a restuarant. Michelle couldn't pass up the crispy Huachinango (Redsnapper) which is a staple favorite. Robin opted for a Papa Relleno (stuffed potato) but there was so much fish we decided to doggy bag the potato for tomorrow's lunch. A wet dinghy ride back to the boat saw the end to the day.

Isla Carmen - Ballandra Cove, Mexico

Tuesday May 22, 2007

Jumped ashore quickly this morning and had some breakfast, found the internet cafe open, uploaded the logs quickly, grabbed another couple of items from the supermarket we'd forgotten about and headed back to the boat. Dragged the dinghy on board, rolled out the jib and headed over to Ballandra on Isla Carmen. On arrival there was one other boat which was in the process of departing so we had the cove to ourselves for the afternoon until a large power launch arrived. They anchored across the other side of the cove though which was nice of them. We had tried to anchor in their spot when we first arrived but the depth didn't allow us to anchor comfortably. Michelle can't sleep if she can't put out at least 4 to 1 if not 5 to 1 anchor rode. And if there's any sign of wind she wants more than that. God knows how she's going to cope in the Carribbean with the tight overcrowded anchorages but then we are going around the world the other way aren't we?

Robin went ashore and hiked up into the little gully past a lagoon area. Flowering trees and lots of bees. He brought back a swarm of bees with him and we'd realized there had been no bees over in Loreto. There was plenty of water over there so they weren't bothered about the tiny drops they could find on a boat. The bees have been a challenge. Everything has to be kept dry, the sinks continually wiped out, the taps wrapped up or the bees try to crawl up inside looking for water. We shower on deck so as no water is left in the bilge. We keep our water in water bottles so we don't have to pump it out and cause unneccesary temptation to the poor little critters. Some afternoons they're almost in a frenzy if Robin cuts a lime to make a cocktail. Robin waves them out the hatches with a tea-towel but they fly twice around the boat and come right back even when they have found no water - then some slaughter occurs and it is all quiet for a while. Sometimes we mess up and leave some water somewhere, eg a bit in a cup, and then its all too late and 20-50 bees are in a frenzy - too late for individual executions so we resort to the sickly smelling repellant which is equally effective for the bees and us.

V Cove on Isla Carmen, Mexico

Wednesday May 23, 2007

Today we decided to head further around Isla Carmen to V-Cove as it's fondly known. It was a pretty little cove and we had it to ourselves except for a couple of pangas camping out. One lot was asleep on the shore under a canvas shade, the other lot asleep in what seemed excruciating positions on the thwarts of their anchored panga. It seems these are guys who fish at night. The cliffs lining the cove were dotted with caves which we explored, and there was a pebbly sand beach at the head of the cove where the local fishermen had their day camp. After exploring the local caves we decided to dinghy around to the previous cove, Playa la Lancha and explore the area over there. Tao 8 was anchored over there and we stopped and yapped for a while and after exploring the cliff faces and more sea caves we headed on back to the boat. There didn't seem to be anywhere near the fish life that there had been on other reefs. Maybe it's northerly aspect and the fact it's totally unsheltered to the winter storms makes it a tougher environment for fish. Whatever the case it's far more barren than other places we've seen but the nearby cliff scenery was special.

We never get tired of looking at the various craggy profiles of the cliffs.
This one reminds me of a jolly old face.

Loreto, Mexico

Thursday May 24, 2007

Robin figured he'd take a look at the head sink taps this morning since he broke the shower nozzle off the other day while swatting bees. For some reason he forgot that we have pressure water (on a boat you might forget that) and took a nice drenching when he undid the tap, yelling for Michelle to turn off the water pump. Needless to say he was not amused although Michelle seemed to find it quite entertaining. She couldn't understand why this should make him even less amused tho' it might have something to do with the fact that bits of the tap had been sprayed somewhere around the forecastle. He gave up the job for another day and we jumped in the dinghy quickly, took a couple of photos that we'd neglected to take yesterday then headed on back to Loreto.

We came into Loreto today with the plan to do certain things like visit the Mission. It's amazing how quickly the best laid plans get derailed. We hadn't even anchored when we heard a shout out from the breakwater and there was George, Melinda and Joshua off Southern Bell hailing us. We dropped the hook, put on some town clothes (those things we rarely wear these days) and dinghied ashore. They had brought us back a fishing net (as in bait cast net) from their trip to La Paz and filled us in on the latest happenings. They have a leak in their diesel fuel tank and need to head back to La Paz to have it repaired. Hopefully they will only be detained for 2 weeks or so. After downing a cold one at the end of the breakwater we all jumped in their hire car and headed a little ways out of town to a meat shop that came recommended from the lady who sold us the beer at the end of the breakwater. Thus having stocked up on beef and chicken, we said our goodbyes to Southern Bell and Robin ran the meat back to the boat.

We had determined that a Tapas Bar was our choice of eating places for this evening but again our best laid plans were thwarted. We stopped by the Giggling Dolphin (aka the Slurping Squid, the Wasted Whale etc) for a marguerita and there met Rick, a wannabe expat from Oregon, the US of A. He was looking into buying property down here in the Loreto area. He then offered to show us the local sites and we piled into our 2nd rent-a-car for the day and ended up at the most phenomenal graveyard we've ever seen. It was in the style of Italian cemetaries where they build little houses over the graves but these houses had a definite Mexican twist. The colors were vibrant, the little houses had glass doors and windows, some complete with curtains. They were truly a sight to behold and you could only have wished to live there as the living rather than the dead. Our only regret was we didn't have the camera with us.

Friday May 25, 2007

We are leaving Loretto today for destinations further north. We will again be out of email/internet/telephone contact for the next 10days at least. Santa Rosalia is the next place we will be able to find these luxuries.

Isla Coronados, Mexico

Sunday May 27, 2007

We left Loreto Friday midday and sailed up to Isla Coronado, purportedly an old vulcano with a crater at the summit. At least some cruisers we met said there was a crater. Robin decided the next morning to climb the 925' peak and take a gander at it. He was disappointed to find a 20 foot wide indent which if you used your imagination Maybe it could have been the indent of a crater. But then 10 million years of weathering, tilting etc could make 20 foot craters in your local municipal park. Still it was a pleasant 4 mile stroll errr scramble.

Punta Mangles, Mexico

We up anchored and headed north 10 miles to a tiny fair-weather anchorage which most people probably wouldn't bother stopping at and thus we had it all to ourselves. On arrival we were greeted with a squadron of stingrays, about 12 in a fanned out group. I guess they came to see who had invaded their space. After checking us out they slowly meandered off and dove as one body. Wonder how long they had to practice to pull off that choreographed manouever.

View from the top and the "yes I am a crater... honest!"
Our view for this evening

San Juanico, Mexico

Around lunch time today we decided to head on up to San Juanico, 8 miles up the coast. We are covering a lot of ground each day as you can tell. It's nice to wander along and have a different view every night. But then if its not too far it doesn't matter if boat speed drops to 2 knots in minimal breeze and you can just drift along.

The intricate rocky outcrops of Juanico Bay and the Giant Bolder opposite the anchorage.

Ramada Cove, Mexico

Wednesday May 30, 2007

We spent 2 nights at San Juanico mainly because Michelle wanted a day of rest to catch up on the washing. She got it washed dried and stoWednesday in record time as there was a great breeze-drying wind. Robin muttered something about there always being a great wind when you take a day off sailing! Not to waste time he got out his new cast net to catch some bait fish but tho' we have seen them everywhere (like 10 zillion at Isla San Francisco) there were none about in the whole local bay. Then he discovered a tidal lagoon a few yards inland behind a cliff and there practiced his casting technique where there were no witnesses. He reported that he completely demoralised two small schools of bait fish and came back with about 30 of them that must have fought their way into the net - nice 2-3 inch long guys. Had lunch. An hour later he discovered the bait fish, all in nice fresh seawater in a bucket, all very dead. He had tasted the lagoon water and it had been salty but we guess not salty enough - osmosis must be a terrible thing for fish in these circumstances. We went fishing anyway but only the puffer fish wanted to have anything to do with our dead live bait. We are having some bad juju kama when it comes to catching fish.

Yesterday we headed around the point to Ramada Cove, a small well protected inlet with a very inviting sandy beach at it's head. Brandywine was anchored there and they welcomed us in and immediately dinghied over and introduced themselves. As soon as they left we jumped in and went snorkling. Michelle went one direction, Robin went round the rocky point with his speargun. There were some Mexicans there and one of the guys was snorkling. Michelle swam by him and realized he was collecting one of the favorite clams in Mexico, known as Chocolates on account of their shell color. This morning we got up and snorkled some more and tried our hand at collecting Chocolates but it seems we have a missing gene when it comes to living off the land. We came away empty handed. Ramada is one of Michelle's favorite stops so far. It's on the absolute must see list. Late this afternoon we upanchored and headed 8 miles further north to Punta Pulpito, a rather open rocky anchorage suitable for fair weather.

Punta Pulpito, Mexico

Thursday May 31, 2007

Wow last day of Spring. Let the summer fun begin! Dinghied again this morning around the rocky point of Punta Pulpito which turned out to be surprisingly interesting. There were many intricate caves, the main one being right on the point. It doglegged around 90degrees and out the other side leaving what is currently a huge pillar attached on the corner but which will no doubt eventually disappear. The snorkling around here was awesome, although there was a 4 knot current ripping through there which made things a little tricky. Michelle ended up staying in the dinghy and paced Robin since he was a little trepidis about swimming and getting swept away. Meanwhile same said individual tride yet again to spear us a fish but to no avail. Apparently there are a lot of disgruntled fish along the coast behind us that have been thwacked by glancing blows from his errant spear. Lots of different fish, some new ones to us to be identified in our fish book, and some 4 foot stingrays lying in the sandy patches between boulders. But still cold in the water.

The intrepid fisherman!
View from the outside and the inside.
The first rock pile stays out of the water even at high tide but imagine hitting the second one.
At high tide this little rock is completely submerged and out of sight.

San Sebastian Cove, Mexico

After an hour we decided to head on out and up to Bahia San Sebastian. We arrived to find the most pleasant little bay just big enough for our boat and we decided to bow and stern anchor down the middle. Both sides of the cliffs were lined with rock shelves all the way into the bay and both points had reefs which jutted out quite a ways narrowing the entrance. It wasn't difficult, one just needed to pay attention.

There's a reef to the left ... and a reef to the right.. crunchy!

The bay was lined with colorful houses, not an inch of land being left for one more residence. Sadly they are nearly all owned by expats from the USA. It's hard to find truly Mexican villages anymore anywhere on the Baja. Then again this has probably improved living conditions immensely. It's always a double-edged sword.

We swam a little, the water being over 80 degrees for the first time (in the shallow bay) and began to clean the bottom of the boat (well just the rudder then we grew tired) then sat back and watched the full moon appear over the ocean. It's so beautiful being on the water, well at least when its beautiful.