Bahia Lima, Mexico

Friday June 1, 2007

We love Cunningham's guide to the Sea of Cortez. He gives you the confidence to explore so many more anchorages than Charlie's Charts or Rain's Guide. We found another roadstead type anchorage this afternoon on the way up to the point of Punta Conception. We had enough wind to cover the 8.5miles but not really enough to jump 30 miles so we opted to try out this open anchorage and it was delightful. The first thing we noticed was the vegetation covering the hills, something that has been very scarce. Most of the landscape as you've seen by the photos has been either dry rock/dust or as in the islands has scrubby trees, thorn bush and cacti. Here there was some kind of ground cover over most of the hillside. Yesterday in San Sebastion we heard different birdsong for the first time in we can't recall how long. There was the normal dove in addition to something else we didn't recognise. We realized we hadn't heard anything outside of seagulls, pelicans, and turtle buzzards since leaving La Paz. We tried in vain to catch a glimpse of what was seranading us but whatever it was kept itself well camoflaged.

Santa Rosalia, Mexico

Saturday June 2, 2007

We keep changing our plans. We had intended to hop up to Pilares today and that's what we did but the wind this afternoon was decidedly strong and the wind waves coming into the anchorage were quite high when we arrived. We stopped for a couple of hours then Michelle decided, much to Robins disgruntlement, to just do an overnight sail up to Santa Rosalia. We need to make arrangements for leaving the boat docked during the month of August while we are in Australia and we needed some more fresh meat since Robin has not succeeded in feeding us too well. The wind held nicely until 7pm and we did a nice 7knots but then it died, naturally, and we did a slow crawl for a few hours. There were two dead flat calms in which we wandered around in circles. Robin had a new experience during his watch: The boat was moving along at 3 knots as though through oil. There were no waves or ripples of any kind and the speed was low enough that our bow wave did not break so that there was total silence, no splish, splash or trickle sound whatsoever. He said it seemed as though we were stationary except that the sails were billowed out and the swirly wake was disappearing into the dakness behind us. A few times during the night the wind really picked up from the normal Westerly blowing off the land and we had to slow down as we really wanted to do a daylight entry into Santa Rosalia. It was probably just as well considering the next night we saw over 50 pangas lining the shore all with lights. They are fishing for Humbolt Squid, a giant up-to-6-foot squid which is in plague proportions at the moment and offering a roaring business for the fisherman. Thankfully we didn't have to weave our way through that mess although we smelt it for the next few days. We motored into the enclosed harbour at Santa Rosalia just after daybreak to find a couple of guys waving us into a nice new-looking marina (just a single walkway) just inside the harbour entrance - they seemed nice so why not try it!

Tuesday June 4, 2007

We have finally found some decently warm weather. It will be 91 degrees today (that's 33 degrees for you educated peeps). The funny part is we are revelling in the heat and the gringos here are dying. Some have actually got heat sickness. We keep trying to tell them just drink lots of water, stay out of the midday sun and please eat some salt but they look at us like we're from Pluto. Salt? Water? Are you insane? One almost feels like saying "Ok stay sick then guys"~ LOL.

Santa Rosalia is an interesting little town. We weren't planning on staying long and we weren't going to write it up till we got back here in the middle of July but it's too interesting to pass up. It's an old copper mining town, founded by a French company, Boreo, in the late 1800s. The French have left a mark on this place in both the church, constructed by Eiffel (yes the same guy who built Paris' tower). He constructed the entire church out of metal panels and bolted it together. It was displayed in the Paris Exhibition in 1889? and Boleo had it brought over here to Santa Rosalia where it still sits today, a little weather beaten but still holding up quite well. (Robin, who is a little jaded by churches thought it looked like a large building made of metal panels bolted together that was being used as a church). The residential houses are also different in that instead of the usual adobe, brick, stucco they are wooden with little picket fences around them. We visited the antiques museum from the mining era and the old Francis hotel, which looks good at surface level but if one inspects it closely, it's not in too good a condition. Repairs have been done with cheap wood which has subsequently been rained upon and warped badly. Just little things like this.

Friday June 8, 2007

The new marina here at Santa Rosalia also has immaculately clean showers, a pool/spa area up on the roof with a view out to sea (the cocktail spot of course), and an internet connection which we just managed to get to today for the first time. The only odd thing is there are very few restaurants in town. There is a dozen or so taco stands dotted around the town but even these shut down of a night time and the only thing available is hotdogs (Robin loathes hotdogs - I mean how can you hate a hotdog for goodness sake!? Robin's retort concedes that battered turds are definitely worse than hotdogs even tho' the Mexicans also cover their hotdogs in that ghastly sweet gringo mustard that looks like baby poop).

Isla San Marcos - Puerto Viejo, Mexico

We had expected to try and leave the boat in August at the old marina in the harbour. After investigating we found that the old one appears to be now managed to a large extent by gringo cruisers tied up to the marina. They advised that it would all fall to bits if challenged by a tropical storm and anyway there was probably not enough depth for our keel. Didn't get round to checking the depth though (may have been able to poke our nose out of a slip sufficiently to get enough depth) because the people at the new marina (who are obviously trying to advertise it) offered us a couldn't pass up deal. Pay for one month at US $600 and get a second month free. We won't use the whole of a second month so the agreement was we could drop in as we sail past next time and also include our stay this time. Thats a good deal! Being new, the dock is tied down firmly by new pilings. The breakwater around the harbour is a monster built by the mining company a century ago. The only danger in high winds seems to us to be from all the debris lying around which would become airbourne missiles in a 100 mph wind. But there does not seem to be any appreciation of that danger here or elsewhere in Mexico (or the rest of America) so we can't do any better anyway. Having finally found somewhere to leave the boat (recall we had not heard of this new marina until we arrived here and we could find nowhere else) we could then book air tickets to Australia. Did so as quickly as possible with the Qantas internet site flashing "Only five seats now available" on the best deal we could find there!

So we left Santa Rosalia yesterday feeling quite pleased that we'd finally organized our Aussie itinerary, found somewhere to leave the boat and generally got ourselves in order again. We decided to head back south towards Conception Bay, our first stop to be the Southern tip of San Marcos Island. This island is 5 1/2 miles long and 2 1/2 wide and is home to an open-cut gypsum mine (Robin recalled that meant CaSO4 from High School chemistry - real chemists don't use common names like gypsum!). The anchorage itself on the South end known as Puerto Viejo is not pretty by any stretch of the imagination. However it is surrounded by reefs on both sides of the entrance into the bay and the shore is lined with cliffs on one end leading down to a cobblestone beach on the other. The mine has made a mess of things pushing huge piles of rubble over the cliff edge into the ocean. It was a handy stop though as we didn't feel like doing an overnight sail. The wind was favorable and allowed us to sail and make good time. Indeed as we came out of the harbour there was a smaller yacht (about 30 feet) putting up sails and generally heading in the same direction. We met them the next day (boat name Trix) and they said they watched us disappear over the horizon ahead of them - some exaggeration here since we were only doing 6 knots.

Chivato Point, Mexico

Today we head for Punta Chivato, just 12 miles to the south, passing around a prominant point and between Islas Santa Inez (a group of rocks and islands) and the Baja mainland. We had a very pleasant sail and arrived quite refreshed for a change. Lining the beachfront are numerous posh houses which we later discovered all belong to American pilots. There is an airfield behind the houses and said pilots fly in, do their thing and depart. Such gorgeous homes for a week or two's vacation. How the other 0.001% live! (We prefer to move our 15 ton home every few days at an average speed of around 4 knots). After a relaxing afternoon we jumped in the dinghy and headed ashore to check out the resort on the point. It was open, happened to have a fully stocked bar, restaurant and not single guest staying there. It is one of the nicest resort areas we've seen, with a constant cool breeze, amazing snorkling and sandy beaches, thus we're kind of gobsmacked that it's empty - but then all the gringos have been told that the Sea of Cortez is too hot in the summer so they don't come; guess they prefer 90 F, 90% humidity, and 0.5 miles of visibility thru' the smog in New York. The resort offered to feed us so how could we resist. It was a fixed menu for a very fixed price. Toss in a bottle of wine and I think we spent more money for a meal than we've spent in the last month total but it was well worth it.

Saturday June 9, 2007

We like this place so much we have decided to stay another day. We headed on over to the rocky spit with a navigation light on the end of it and anchored the dinghy. Jumped into the water and met with the most stingrays we've ever seen in one area. There were patches of sand where you couldn't put your hand between the rays they were so numerous. These were mainly the common California Ray, quite rounded with a shortish thick tail and one thick barb on the end. Not really wanting to get stung we headed out into deeper water to put a little more space between the belly and the sand. The fish life was quite abundant on the inside of the point where it was very rocky, the outside had a different habitat, being seaweed (eel grass?) and thus different varieties of fish. Robin managed to spear one small guy and we had it for breakfast the next day - kind of mushy and so nondescript we can't now remember what it was.

Headed back to the bar at the resort for a couple of refreshing margueritas and enjoyed the sunset and once again the spectacular view of cascading mountain ranges. This really is an amazing spot they have here. The palapa bar is set right on the point and gives one a 270 degree panorama.

Bahia Conception - Coyote Bay, Mexico

Sunday June 10, 2007

Our goal today was to head down to Mulege, anchor overnight, race into town early the next morning, which is a 2mile dinghy ride up the river, and then get back to the boat before the afternoon winds pick up. However it was untenable. We got there after a nice sail and found 3foot waves entering the open anchorage which after a couple of hours turned into almost 6 foot breaking waves. We decided to call it quits around 5pm and head on down to Conception Bay. The wind may have died later on but it was just too iffy to stay any longer. The dinghy, trailing behind, almost turned upside down at one point so we winched it on board and headed out with conservative staysail and reefed main. Our sail down the bay went well until we got behind Conception Point where the wind virtually died. From there it was a further 13 miles down to Coyote Bay and now we were chasing the dark. We had originally planned to anchor in Santispac, it being the closest anchorage but with darkness decending and reefs to navigate, then subsequently a 20 knot breeze which picked up from the south we decided to head to an anchorage which was both sheltered from the southerly and navigable in the dark by radar. We dropped the hook at 9:30pm tired but safe and sound. Radar sure does make life easier in the dark. I don't know how people navigate in the dark without it - it took us around the black mass of an island to anchor in an equally black bay under some black cliffs with no moon. Of course we had one eye on the depth guage all the while.

Monday June 11, 2007

We woke up this morning to a southerly still blowing and which would blow the entire day. We watched 5 boats anchored over the other side of the bay with the wind waves smacking them around and wondered why they would bother staying there. It wasn't till the next day when we passed them in the dinghy that we realized they are just moored boats with noone on them. Anyway we were tucked up behind a point which protected us from most of the wind waves and were very comfortable. The wind itself however was very hot. We pulled out the trusty temperature gauge and it read 104 degrees. Wow we said. Think we found us some warm weather finally. We went ashore to the sandy beach where Robin tried his luck again with the spear gun still with no luck. Finally, in disgust at the constant speargun failure, he grabbed the cast net and worked at getting us some white bait to fry up. He had just finished cleaning it all when a small school of mullet swam by. I know you're thinking ...mullet ?! But they turned out to be surprisingly tasty. He threw the net and eureka, 15 fish in the net. Not bad for a learner with a bait net! 15 mullet was way too much for us to deal with so we decided to toss some back. We didn't think quickly enough though for after 2 mins the fish decided they didn't want to live anymore. Michelle held 8 of them in the water and finally got them breathing again and after another 5mins they eventually swam off. If you didn't hold them upright they turned turkey upsidedown and drowned. Silly fish. Anyway the bait net on this occasion supplied us with 4 subsequent tasty meals.

Tuesday June 12, 2007

Still windy today. We have company today but ashore. A few families have turned up to enjoy the campgrounds. Then the icecream truck turned up. We both looked at each other and went wow, icecream. We can assure you in 104 degree heat an icecream just kinda hits the spot. Highway 1 ran along the shore close by under cliffs and mountain. This was the first time we had ever anchored near a major road. Was OK with the wind on shore but otherwise the novelty quickly wore off. However were able to replenish essentials (ie beer) from a couple of roadside tiendas. Also an expat gringo lived on the waterfront in the next bay and had an internet connection so Robin did some urgent emails.

Bahia Conception - Playa Santa Barbara, Mexico

Thursday June 14, 2007

We'd finally had enough of Coyote Bay and the traffic from the road. The trucks change down gears to come down what doesn't seem to be a very steep gradient but nevertheless in doing so it somehow reverberates off the cliff walls straight out across the water at much increased decibels. We unfurled the jib and gently coasted our way past Isla Coyote out in the bay and around into Playa Barbara. We dropped the anchor in 25 feet of water, and Michelle immediately jumped overboard for a refreshing swim in 85degree water. Not 2 mins later she was innundated with catfish nipping her toes, swarming all around her. She let out this giant shriek and Robin stood up on deck laughing when he saw she had about 30 catfish all around her. Needless to say that kind of ended the swim. Robin got in later with the putty knife to clean a few more of the ever pesky barnacles off the bottom of the boat. After slashing at them a few times they seemed to keep their distance from him while he worked.

Later that night Michelle tried to take a quick dip and they were back again. Robin dove over board and out away from the boat and they all chased him, leaving Michelle in peace to enjoy her swim. He thought he'd outsmart them and move further away but they seem to be attracted by splashing around. He squealed like a girl swimming round and round trying to outswim them (he adds that this was designed to attract them like mice to girls on chairs etc). Michelle just managed to get out in time before Robin returned catfish in tow.

Bahia Conception - Burro Bay, Mexico

Friday June 15, 2007

Snorkelled the outer island, Isla Guapa which was surprisingly good with sheer drop-offs into the murky depths. Robin found a big red (handful) about 10 feet down on a ledge. Did the local reef which wasn't as good but still interesting. Upanchored and headed to Isla Bargo (also known as Coyote) to a marginal day anchorage with snorkelling next to the boat and found pin scallops and a few different types of clams but we didn't know whether or not all were edible. Sadly we didn't get a photo of this first group which was quite interesting. We put them all in a fresh bucket of water, hoping to find someone who could identify them for us. We upanchored again after lunch and headed on over to Burro Bay, where we could buy a beer and have dinner.

We asked various gringos on shore if they could identify the scallops and clams we had but none were too sure. So after dinner we headed over to two sports fishing boats who were rafted up together not far from us. They were 8 visiting Mexicans from the other side of the Sea of Cortez, one boatload from Kino, the other from San Carlos. Luckily a few of them spoke very good English so we asked them about the clams/scallops and they told us what each were, what parts were edible, how to clean them etc. (Later turned out that they misidentified the large one as a chocalata when it was a name like rena). Then they offered us a couple of beers and we had a great chat. It is always such a pleasure to meet the Mexican people, who are invariably friendly, with a ready smile and a desire to be helpful. The largest fan clam was the most wasteful of all. It was a huge clam being almost 6 inches long, with a very thin shell, but the wastage was so great we couldn't justify taking them. We're heading back tomorrow to collect some of the other varieties.

Saturday June 16, 2007

Well we can't complain about no heat in Mexico. Every afternoon there is a brutal hot wind blowing off the land. It lasts about 3 to 4 hours and is quite debilitating. At the end of each day you feel exhausted. The temperature the last few days has been over 100 degrees, the water in the low 90s.

We dinghied back over to Isla Bargo today and went hunting for clams but ended up gathering the pin scollops. We gathered about 40 and Robin cleaned them and we ceviched them (doused in lime juice, a bit of onion and chili pepper for 90 mins). We also gathered a few clams and ceviched them also. It all made for a wonderfully refreshing dinner. Alot of work for a couple of small meals but interesting the first time.

Calou with Bruce, Pascale, and their two boys Francois and Antoine, arrived today. We haven't seen them since the beach bonfire back in Los Frailes late last November. We went ashore and had a couple of margheritas and caught up with what they'd been doing the last few months and shared gossip of mutual friends. They let us know that Southern Belle is still holed up in La Paz getting a few more boat projects done. I don't think we'll get to see them again before we leave for Australia.

Bahia Conception - Santispac, Mexico

Sunday June 17, 2007

We left the boat early this morning to check out a bay just to the north which is very shoally and which reportedly used to have chocolatas. We failed on the chocolatas but gathered about 50 other clams, a very colorful variety. Hopefully they will cook up well.

These were so pretty, each shell having it's own original pattern almost as varied as snowflakes

As we were dropping the hook in Santispac just behind one of the islands about 100 catfish came out to greet us. They were following the anchor chain as we laid it out on the bottom. They are like sea rats, in plague proportions. We decided to snorkel the shoreline area and it would have been very interesting as there were tons of fish of various species. However the water was so murky you couldn't see more than 2 feet in front of you. We did manage to see a school of trigger fish swim by, their beautiful fins waving hello as they checked us out on passing. Next we decided to snorkel around the island we'd anchored behind. It was a breeding ground for pelicans, while seagulls and turkey buzzards also claimed it as home. Baby pelicans are so ungainly. They almost look prehistoric. And the noises eminating from the island sounded like an entire playground of children being throttled.

The fishlife around the island wasn't anywhere near as abundant, and probably because of the amount of birds sitting just above them. There were some amazing rock formations which created underwater canyons to explore and fish were hidden away in crevices here living no doubt a very precarious life.

We got back to the boat and Robin decided it was time to deal with the mussels. He figured boiling them would work, although Michelle did mention steaming would be better. Nevertheless, men being men he decided to boil them. They turned out a bit tough, and they had a bit of sand grit still left in them but with a bit of adjustment they will be quite edible. Michelle ended up making a sauce for them and served them over rice. Other than the sand it was a very tasty dish. Robin's working on perfecting his "just say no sand" technique.

Bahia Conception - Punta Santo Domingo, Mexico

Monday June 18, 2007

We snorkelled out around a couple more areas this morning looking for the ephemeral clams. There was numerous types of clams but we still haven't come across a chocolata. We gathered a few more varieties to try and then headed back to Warrior got things in order, up anchored and headed for the Punto Santo Domingo at the very entrance to Bahia Conception. Our plan is to head on over to Mulege if the weather permits, if not to hole up in Santo Domingo. We arrived to find 5 boats in the anchorage already, among them Calou and Tao 8. They didn't last long in the heatwave in Conception Bay.

We headed to the beach in the late afternoon and tried our hand again at collecting the ever evasive chocolatas, and success. In ten feet of water Robin finally managed to locate them buried a few inches down with their two valves just showing. They are such a pretty clam. So we now have an assortment of clams to experiment with again.

The top two clams in the picture on the right are the chocolates.
The bottom clam although it looks similar is apparently a different variety again which starts with a P.. we've forgotten the name of it.
Santo Domingo

Punta Chivato take 2, Mexico

Tuesday June 19, 2007

Lunch time the wind arrived so we decided to give Mulege a miss yet again and head on back up towards Santa Rosalia. As we left the point Warrior suddenly took off like a racing horse out of the starting gates at 8 knots. The auto pilot was playing up yesterday on our way up to Punto San Domingo but as we'd dropped the anchor it seemed to come right again so we didn't look further into it. Today however it decided it wasn't happy at all so Michelle had to hand steer the boat heeled at 25 degrees. Robin finally took pity on her and took some of the heel out of the boat. Yes she's an absolute wuss still when it comes to heel angle. We decided to stop for the 2nd time at Punta Chivato since we enjoyed it so much the first time we passed by there. Yet again it didn't disappoint us and this time there were a couple staying at the resort so we had some people to talk to. I think we convinced them to go cruising.

Isla San Marcos - Sweetpea Shelf, Mexico

Wednesday June 20, 2007

We upanchored earlier than normal this morning, and motored out in zero wind, because we wanted to navigate the very shallow and narrow Craig Channel between Isla San Marcos and the Baja shoreline. The charts gave us a maximum depth of 27 feet and that's exactly what we had. The sea floor rises from 2,400 feet to 28feet so the current through here can be quite strong depending on the tide but we'd been around the island twice on the otherside and wanted to check out the western side of the island this time so we took the short cut. It turned out to be fine although Michelle kept a keen eye on both the depth gauge and radar until we were through the shallows. Robin, also known as Mr. Unconcerned, dozed through 90% of the transit. We only had 1 knot of current running with us which was trivial.

We decided to anchor up towards the northern end of the island so we could explore the rugged northern end tomorrow. Just before we entered the anchorage, a school of dolphins ambled on into the channel. We have no idea what they were really doing. They weren't fishing, just going round and round in circles showing not the slightest interest in the boat or us. They just kept going round and round and we followed them, sailed through them, around them and they just kept on doing whatever it is dolphins do. We made not the slightest impact on their activity other than they needed to swerve out of our way occasionally. Very odd dolphins.

We dropped the hook in 18 feet of water on Sweetpea shelf, a narrow ledge of sand up against the cliffs. Then we decided to brave the chilly 82 degree water again and snorkel around Roca Blanca (yes yet another one!). The fish life was supurb, with the biggest of each species we've seen so far. We lasted about 30mins in the water and had to call it quits. Before we'd left to go snorkelling, Calou arrived to share the anchorage. We called past on the way back from snorkelling to invite them all over for dinner but managed to get ourselves invited for dinner instead. Bargain! We took a couple of bottles of wine, they provided pate and pickles and smoked oysters, with beef taco chasers and a merry time was had by all.

Thursday June 21, 2007

We set off to explore the north of the island this morning by dinghy. Plenty of birdlife, the seagulls nesting, their parents dive bombing us to warn us not to come too close to their offspring. Silly overprotective parents - they should have known we weren't the boogeyman. The fishlife along the coast was also abundant. But the nicest surprise were the seacaves and the intricate rocky coast. The northerlies blasting into this shoreline had really worked hard to carve out a million niches in the rock cliffs. Some caves you could dinghy through to the other side, others were a one way trip but all were amazingly interesting. One had a kind of coral prolyp growing over the walls. We weren't really sure what they were. The frustrating part was again trying to take pictures while the swell tossed you around inside the caves. Many shots were blurred but we got a few for you to get an idea.

Robin diagnosed the autopilot problem. We had thought the digital magnetic compass was in an ancient box in the bow of the boat a long way from anything magnetic that would be moved around. He traced the connection from the autopilot control box under the cockpit (that area is always a contortionist exercise for a 6 foot frame) and there was a 2nd newer small digital compass out of sight under the cockpit around a corner attached to a cabin/saloon bulkhead. Not the best choice of site! He then crawled back into the saloon and removed a small portable set of paper files (with thin metal supports) from against the other side of the bulkhead and the problem was fixed. We have inherited a mixed and somewhat unknowable history! The logic apparently was to place this compass as far as possible from the moving steering gear which is mostly stainless steel but may have some magnetic properties without having to leave the area under the cockpit.

Inside and....
This birdnest was full of junk. The photo doesn't do justice to the odds and ends.

Upanchored around 3pm and headed down to the mining village on the island. All the guidebooks say there is nothing of interest here for cruisers therefore don't bother stopping but of course we had to be contrary and to be honest we found it quite interesting. First, it's a gypsum mine, and we enjoyed seeing the workings of it. Of course we have to be absurdly different from most people I guess. The juxtaposition of the houses lining the shore with huge heaps of gypsum right beside them was an impressive if not bizarre sight. And where in Australia or America for that matter, could you just be allowed to sail on in to a mine and drop the hook and wander through the mining complex as though we had every right to be there? It was a surreal experience.

In town there is a church made out of gypsum and so Michelle headed on over to check it out. She talked to the assistant priest inside and got all the goss on the church, San Marcos, the restoration of various projects etc and his email address as he wanted a copy of the photos of the church. He doesn't possess a camera. She was happy to oblige and will send them from Santa Rosalia.

Gypsum is not one of the materials I would build a church with. As you can see it doesn't weather too well.
Restoration projects - the gold leaf work is subject to fund raising.

Santa Rosalia take 2, Mexico

Friday June 22, 2007

In the wee hours of the am a substantial ore carrier arrived and docked. We snapped some shots of it as we left the ancorage early this morning to head across the channel to explore a lagoon area before heading on back to Santa Rosalia. The lagoon is very shallow, only 5 feet at it's deepest so we needed to stay outside. We found an open roadstead where we figured the boat could be left for a few hours. Michelle had hurt her back badly yesterday and it was very inflamed today so she decided not to risk further injury and stayed on board while Robin, fishing gear in tow, headed on over in the dinghy. He found it restful, standing in the dinghy, steering by moving from side to side and trolling a fishing lure. The locals a mile away didn't know he was working on removing tan lines. Two hours later he emerged to find the wind blowing at 20 knots, a 4 foot swell hitting the anchorage and Michelle on the verge of upanchoring and sitting off shore to wait for him. It was so calm in the lagoon he had no idea the wind had got up. It was a slow very rough job motoring the dinghy the last mile or so directly into the waves. He did however manage to catch a rooster fish, a smallish specimen but nevertheless it will be a tasty snack for breakfast.

Look ma. I gone done and caught me a fish!

Got the dinghy onboard, tied down and everything stowed in record time, lifted the hook and headed on up to Santa Rosalia. It was a roughish sail with very confused seas merging from up the channel and across from the top of the island to our right. The seas in the Sea of Cortez are just ugly most of the time. Give me the open ocean anytime. We arrived at harbor and found Calou already there. The afternoon was spent lazing in the swimming pool with refreshing drinks and great company.

Saturday June 23, 2007

We had a wee get together this afternoon to celebrate one year of cruising. According to cruiser law, we have apparently survived the first milestone. Michelle has wanted to quit half a dozen times but she's hanging in there. Next milestone is apparently five years. If people make it past five years cruising they're more or less hooked for life and never stop after that. We had the crews of Calou and Tao 8 over to help celebrate.

Monday June 25, 2007

We have finally got they paying part of Skype going on the computer and now can call Australia for 2 cents a minute. The problem was not the computer but how to send $1 to Skype as they wouldn't accept a non-US address for internet credit card charges. Anyway muchos thanks to Jerry in Santa Cruz, we can now start finalising orders for needed equipment. Robin spent most of the day researching stuff like confirming that the best deal we can get on 2 more solar panels is still the same as the 1st two we bought. He began to tear his hair out (which is becoming a limited practice) over whisker poles. It goes like this: We have learnt that like all boats our jib flaps going more directly downwind than a broad reach. A whisker pole fixes this by pushing out and holding out the clew (rear corner) of the sail and extra knots accrue. Also allows the jib to be pushed out on the opposite side of the boat to the mainsail - called "wing-on-wing" and more knots accrue. In light winds we have confirmed all this using a telescoping boathook that is only 12 feet long. Of course we could deploy our spinnaker poles for this purpose, but they are 22 feet long 6 inch diameter monsters. One or 2 people are not going to use these in coastal conditions where the wind often changes every half hour (thats what a racing crew is for and Warrior used to race with acrew of 10 or so). Anyway if we put out a spinnaker pole we might as well hoist a spinnaker and all the above arguments apply again. So Robin thought we should get a light whisker pole and found the very thing, a telescoping 12-22 foot pole from Forespar weighing just 28 lbs and costing $900. He emailed Forespar to find out if our mast toggles were T-125 as needed for Forespar spars. No, our toggles are Sparcraft (the original owner of Warrior was also the owner of Sparcraft) and our toggles would not latch to the whisker pole. He phoned for more details. We would have to buy a Forespar toggle for $200 (its 1" diameter and 4" long and not made of gold). (Later he determined he could convert ours to theirs using a short length of 1" stainless pipe costing 50 cents). But worse still he was told we could not possibly consider the 12-22' pole on a boat our length. We would have to get the larger diameter 13-24' pole costing somewhat more ($1200) because of large compression forces... He feebly protested that he had been using a 1" diameter boat-hook but a lot of silence ensued. Well gee we had better do it right Eh! But the 13-24' pole now weighs in at 48lbs. Back to the boat, hoisted one of our spinnaker poles on a rope over a block balanced by a bucket of water - our monster poles weigh about 48lbs! Of course we can get back to about 30lbs by getting the carbon fibre version of the 13-24' pole at a cool $3,000 - and then we could accidently drop it overboard the first time we used it. Hey the original idea was that we are only going to use a whisker pole in winds up to about 15 knots - after that the jib doesn't flap, or we are going too fast, or if we want to go fast and there is an ocean ahead we can use our own spinnaker poles. If a sudden squall comes up, its a lot easier for one bloke to get a light short whisker pole down quickly than a 13-24' or whatever......etc etc. About now Robin decides that the Forespar guy had done an excellent job of not making a sale. He figures he will buy a nice end from Forespar that attaches to the jib sheet for $100, attach it to a 15 foot 2" thickwalled aluminium pipe ($100?) and fabricate the mast toggle end at a lathe shop in Mazatlan or PV ($30). If it gets bent in a 30 knot breeze when we are not paying attention, or we drop it overboard, big deal! The difference between $3,000 and $300 will finance alot of lubrication. Of course maybe we've missed the plot entirely.

Passage to Bahia San Francisquito, Mexico

Tuesday June 26, 2007

Michelle still malingering with sore back. Robin did the repetitive provisioning runs (sweaty long walks) into town - what a champion. We finally got going around 5:30pm. Motored out and saw wind line about 4miles offshore so headed for that and later the wind picked up niocely. We planned to sail overnight and stay at least 5miles offshore anyway on the way up to San Francisquito. Sunset saw us watching giant rays jumping out of the water and bellyflopping back down with a crack like thunder. They were quite substantial specimens, their wing tips being about 4 to 5 feet across as they swam past the boat. Other than the constant wind shifts the sailing over night was good and we made good time.

Wednesday June 27, 2007

Wind died around 7am. Robin persevered for another 2 hours trying to keep the boat sailing in very light wind conditions and an ungodly 2foot swell on the beam at a resonance that Warrior hates and flaps the sails with a horrifying thwack - much effort is spent decreasing these thwacks. Sighted a whale this morning which did a full body jump out of the water before crashing down to the depths. This was the first full body jump we'd seen. Usually you catch sight of a head, a tail smacking the water or the occasional arm. He made quite a splash on reentry. We made it into Bahia San Francisquito and found good anchorage protected from the annoying South East swell. Tossed the dinghy in the water, headed ashore for a swim and to search for clams. We got quite a shock to notice the water temperature is back under 80 degrees. Robin braved the cold for 8 mins; Michelle splashed around ankle deep and said no way. What a sook! We hopped back in the dinghy and did a tour of the Bay but nothing really struck us as a reason to stay. We'll no doubt head out in the morning.

Isla Las Animas, Mexico

Thursday June 28, 2007

Upanchored early this morning, destination Isla Animas. We exited our protected anchorage and were immediately assulted by the South Easterly swell. We heard on the SSB radio this morning that it's present all the way up the Sea as many cruisers had spent a very uncomfortable night rocking in it. Fortunately we were tucked away out of it and slept like babes. With that in mind and figuring the swell probably wasn't going anywhere soon we decided on a northerly facing anchorage. Isla Animas is at the top of Isla Lorenzo and the beginning of the Salsipuedes Canal (translates as leave if you can channel). We'd heard a lot about this channel so we kept a good eye out but Robin as always negotiated it to perfection. The currents from the increased tides in the northern Sea of Cortez can be 5 knots and of course there are many times when we can't sail at 5 knots or even motor sail at 5 knots directly into the wind. So we travelled in the hours around low slack. Headed across the annoying short steep swell on a 5-6 knot beam reach, with the sails keeping us from rolling much, to the bottom of Isla Lorenzo, then turned right once we were in the protection of the island and the swell dropped, doing 4 knots up the island coast with the light wind behind. We seemed to travel from one tide rip to another. Some areas had small breaking waves that altogether made alot of hissing noise. But as we crossed them we caculated from simple trig and the boats heading compared to the actual GPS heading that the currents were only a knot or less. Maybe they were deep upwellings. Maybe at mid-tide they are 5 knots and dangerous - if we plan it right we will never find out. The anchorage was delightful and other than having to share it with a fishing trawler for a few hours we had it to ourselves. On the passage over we saw hundreds of dolphins again but they are truly the most disinterested dolphins we've met. They have absolutely no desire to come by and say hello. They will swim 20 feet past the boat and won't stop to say hi. What party poopers!

We hopped in the dinghy and went to pay a visit to the trawler to see if we could buy some fish. Yes for shame we've resorted to buying it since we can't catch it. They gave us about 3 kilos of fish and would take nothing for it. They would have accepted cigarettes or coca cola, both of which we never think to carry aboard. We offered beer or tequila but that was not on - must be a dry boat. We shall have to rectify this so as to have something to barter with.

Friday June 29, 2007

The wind blew off and on all night at about 20 knots which meant Michelle got up about 8 times to check the anchorage and depth since we were dropping 8.5 feet overnight with the tide. We couldn't afford to swing around and head into shore too far as the little cove here shoals to 6 feet. But we were fine, the wind blowing constantly from the south and keeping us offshore in 16 feet of water. We got up this morning to find a beautifully calm anchorage, with water so clear you could see the anchor chain and anchor as clear as day. Stingrays were swimming along the bottom following the anchor chain (kinky!) back and forth, and thousands of fish were investigating the bottom of the boat. It's the clearest we've seen the water. But as usual the water was cold and snorkelling was a rather quick even if rewarding affair.

Isla Salsipuedes, Mexico

Saturday June 30, 2007

Listening to the weather report this morning and hearing it was still going to blow from the south at around 20 knots we decided to head to a more sheltered cove over on Salsipuedes (translates as "leave if you can") Island, a narrow cove but there will be only wind to deal with and no waves, unless the wind swings of course. We left Animas and swung out through the passage between the island and group of rocks which they call a reef and headed the couple of miles over to the next island. Half the guidebooks say you can't traverse through there at all. Cunningham's is at least sane in his discriptions of where the dangers are and what's more than doable. We're getting to the stage that we groan at some of these guidebooks which say traverse 8 miles off the coast or you'll be daft enough to hit this island in full view 1 mile off the coast. Make sure you give yourself plenty of room because of course you will be too stupid to pay attention to where you are and run aground 7 miles off course...Sheeesh! Anyway just giving a shameless plug for Cunningham's Guide to the Sea of Cortez. It gets our vote and gives you the confidence to sail to uncrowded anchorages off the normal cruiser track.

The North Slot and South Slot Coves on Isla Salsipuedes are separated by a rocky isthmus that connects the two haves of the island. You need to circle half the island to get to the other cove. Both sides get the wind but you are protected from Southerly swell in the north cove and obviously Northerly swell in the south slot so you have a choice of anchorages according to the conditions which is very convenient.

We crept into the anchorage scouted out the depth, checked the rock walls on either side which both had deep water, and dropped the hook. We were very conservative anchoring right out at the furtherest end of the cove just out of reach of the swell. But at least we could escape readily if adverse conditions arose. We jumped in the dinghy and headed ashore to explore. Climbed the hill and grabbed a couple of requisite shots of Warrior at anchor.

View from the hill - the long narrow cove.

Robin then went off with his trusty spear which he'd decided to doctor. Early this morning he got out his trusty file and sharpened the point of the spear. The thing now looks deadly. He figured maybe with a bit of luck he'll catch a fish for breakfast tomorrow. So off he trot and wouldn't you know it, he actually succeeded. He just can't abide the silly contraption he's had to work with the last few weeks but has been persevering and has shattered the equilibrium of many fish. Of course a poor workman always blames his tools! The fish he caught was an enigma though. We couldn't identify it from the fish book we have as it wasn't in there. It has the exact same physical properties as the Zebra Perch, the pectoral fins, tail, anal fins, dorsal fins aligning precisely with what we had caught. But the color was definitely not the same, it being a grey brown with a distinctly blue eye, whereas the Zebra Perch has a yellow eye. We can only think maybe it's the Cortez Chub which didn't have a graphic but was mentioned along with the Zebra Perch in the discussion. Maybe someone can identify it from the photo and let us know - it seems common in this area.

Another view of the intrepid fisherman and can you name this fish?

The wind picked up this afternoon and blew steadily all night. 20knots was the norm but there were some very strong gusts to around 30knots which kept Michelle on her toes checking scope length on the chain. 10 foot tides make things a bit more of a challenge than usual in cramped quarters, but we passed the night without incident, Warrior remaining perfectly aligned in the cove. But it was a narrow slot and if the wind direction had changed 90 degrees we could have bumped one wall of rock or the other. The modest noise from the wind generator gives us a good idea of wind speed when we are down below in bed, but there is no indication of direction and no feel for which way the boat is pointing. Solution: must get a compass for the bedroom!