Monthly Archives: February 2017

La Paz Northwards

La Paz North

After sitting in the marina for two months, it’s time to move on.  We loved exploring La Paz… always in search of the perfect loaf of bread.  Exploring the restaurants.  We loved Dolce Romero for bread and baked goods.  A great California’ish breakfast.  Favorite restaurants would be Trocadero, Il Rustico, Pizza place next to Dolce Romero was also very nice.  You might be wondering why we wouldn’t seek out a Mexican’ish breakfast.  In my view they weren’t very satisfying always with sort of thin refried beans, fried tortilla chips on the side, weird sauces.  Never had one I wanted again, and I am an adventurous flexible eater.  Mexican breakfasts certainly didn’t compare to bagel and lox from the Bagel shop near the farmers market.  We loved the farmers market Saturdays and Tuesdays. The Italian sausage lady had great products and would make you a sausage sandwich on the spot.  Yummy.  Bella sold her restaurant, but still sells French pastry, Quiche,  organic sauces at the Market.  Then there’s the produce guy, Martine with mountains of organic lettuce, carrots, tomatoes fresh herbs, oranges.  We had great meals and met lots of fellow cruisers in La Paz.  In summary, we loved La Paz, but Lisa has already covered this.

Caleta Pardita – Feb 8 2017

The first day we motored into headwinds and lumpy seas getting to Caleta Pardita.  This popular anchorage is an ancient volcano.  It was a pretty windy night so we wound up staying on the boat for fear of the anchor dragging.  It didn’t.  We spent time there with our guest in January, but since the winds didn’t seem to be lightening up there was no hope to explore the sea caves on the east side of the island.

El Cardoncito – Feb 9, 2017

A stone’s throw up the coast from Caleta Pardita is El Cardoncito, a very small one or two boat anchorage.  We planned to stop there or go on to Ensenada Cardonal.  Being this close to La Paz, there are usually other boats in the popular anchorages.  Cardoncito was empty as we passed, so in we went anchoring in 20 feet of water.  The winds funneled down the Arroyo and through the anchorage.  At one point a gust came through that was so strong there was “smoke” on the water…  We debated moving to a larger space. The walls of Cardoncitio are perhaps 700 feet apart where we were anchored, so it felt pretty close when the boat would swing in a gust. As the afternoon wore on, the wind died and we were treated to a still evening with amazing moonlight glittering on the water.  We played an album with Chet Atkins and Mark Knopfler, and there was a pelican who came to hang out with us. He stayed about 10 feet off our stern, following the boat as it slowly swayed back and forth… great taste in music.  After about twenty minutes we moved onto the back step to see if we could get closer, but after a few minutes he departed. Was it something we said?  The next morning was flat calm, as we enjoyed our coffee and the sunrise.

Ensenada Grande  – Feb 10-11, 2017

The next day we moved a few miles north to Ensenada Grande, anchoring in the southern most of the three lobes.  Lisa, always a hiker, suggested we take the trail up the Arroyo to see an amazing view of the sea.  We were sharing the anchorage with a small cruise ship from the National Geographic Society with 56 passengers.  When we came ashore, me met the “expedition leader” who told us the trail was about three hours up and back.  In describing the trail he said “First it’s like this, a sandy trail, then you get toasters, then microwaves and then refrigerators.”  By the time we were getting into the “refrigerator” section, we felt we were at least half way so we persevered all the way to the top to be rewarded with the amazing view.  On the way back our footing seemed much less secure as we only had sneakers on.  Lisa’s shoes were giving her no ankle support, so we wound up slowly picking our way downhill.   As we watched the National Geographic boat pull out along with the other cruisers from the anchorage, we realized from halfway down that we were really on our own.  Luckily we had enough water and a little time and patience got us off the hill with no injuries.  Note to self, get hiking boots next time we are home.

Isla San Francisco – Feb 12-14, 2017

With a pleasant southerly, we got to sail off the wind to our next anchorage.  First time in a long time to put sails up.  So far we have spent a lot of time motoring into big chop with the wind on the nose.  Isla SF was beautiful with a huge crescent shaped beach. The first night was pretty windy and the boat dragged about 50 feet during the night.  We use the anchor alarm all the time so we know these things.  We took long walks on the beach littered with shells.  One day we walked through the salt marsh and walked the pebbly north beach. This was an amazing rocky beach with an osprey nest overlooking it all.  Supposed to be a good place for a blow from the south, but with lots of submerged rocks, you would need to know what you were doing.  We spent three days at Isla San Francisco with Kingfisher (Allison and Jerry) and Nellie Joe (Deena and James).

Isla Coyote

Three days later we motored to Isla Coyote, a quiet fishing village, but decided not to stop because of the exposed anchorage. It also felt like you would be walking into someone’s living room.  A guy in bright yellow rain gear was working on a panga.

Bahia Amortajada (Isla San Jose)

We stopped for lunch behind this sandy spit and then explored the mangrove forest and coming out in a big lagoon on the south side of the spit.  On the eastern end of the lagoon there were hundreds of pelicans, seagulls, and frigate birds.

San Evaristo – Feb 15-19, 2017

That evening we motored over to San Evaristo across the San Jose Channel. The late afternoon breeze had kicked up a lively chop, and once again we were motoring into it.  We expected a large storm Saturday with 20 to 25 knots predicted from the south, so we anchored in a great position in the southern turn of the bay.   We didn’t want to rush up the channel to Aqua Verde which might be a better stop.  The plan was to stay in San Evaristo through the storm – until Sunday or Monday.  Lupe Sierra operates a beachfront restaurant there where 15 dollars buys a couple of delicious prawn dishes and several beers.  Fisherman come and go all day in their pangas.  The first night there was an amazing lightening storm with a little rain to rinse the salt off our newly waxed boat.  We were anchored under the towering Sierra Gigante range…more eye candy.  The next day we hiked out to the salt ponds north of town and to the church on the hill with its white cross overlooking the bay.

Casting for Bait

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Blow out at Evaristo

We were expecting a lot of wind based on Predictwind.  The forecast was stable for days in advance.  So we were in the anchorage because it is a good hideout for southerly blows. When we arrived (days early) the anchorage was pretty full but we found a position closest to shore where we would not interfere with two deeper draft vessels.  On the big day, those two were gone and there were only four other boats in the anchorage.  At the predicted time, 11:00 am, the wind began to blow mid-teens with a few gusts into the twenties. We got some rain and then the winds went light and shifted 180 degrees.  We drifted across our anchor to the other extreme as the winds shifted north. Things slowed down and I thought we were done.  Then suddenly more wind now holding mid-twenties with lots of gusts into the 30’s and our max of 42.2….  our anchor held. But despite that, I had both engines running as the wind direction had us too close to the point, a lee shore.  During the blow, two of our neighbors dragged.  The third moved and then ran aground when the wind shifted.  One dragged with three aboard, and were able to self-rescue.  The owner of the second boat adrift was ashore when it happened.  Three pangueros rushed out in 30 knot winds to rescue his boat. When the owner started rowing his walker bay dingy through the chop to try and get to his boat, the Panguero came and got him, then tied the row boat to Footloose and saved the guy’s boat. The fourth boat in the anchorage had a dingy hoisted at the side of the boat and this dingy flipped, no motor, but the owner was still out there in the height of it trying to re-establish order.  My faith in our Delta anchor was increased as some of the puffs had pretty big direction changes bringing the boat hard against the anchor rode.

Punta Salinas – Feb 19, 2017

Just across the water from San Evaristo is the remains of an old salt mining operation.  Judging by the abandoned vehicles probably in the 60’s or 70’s.  Vehicles look 50’s to me.  Amazing view as we walked on the salt flats. I think there is reddish/ochre bacteria/algae that forms in the high salinity ponds making for some interesting colors.

On raising anchor, we discovered that things were not normal.  The stripper arm was gone… Not one of those strippers, rather the anchor windlass has a little piece of metal that kicks the chain off of the drum as it goes by called the stripper arm.  We still had our back up anchor rigged from the Big Blow, so we decided we would use it in the light airs expected at our next anchorage at Mangle Solo as a practice run.

Mangle Solo has great views of the San Jose channel and the Sierra Gigante mountains.  Whales are often seen there.  Sure enough a pod of Pilot whales passed us around sun down.

 Return to San Evaristo – Feb 20, 2017

The next morning we needed to unrig the back up anchor. This was a lot of work with 150 feet of ¾ line attached to 50 feet of chain followed by our 40 lb fortress anchor.  Lisa worked to drive the boat towards the anchor creating slack, so I could haul more easily, but the wind would catch the bows and send the boat away forcing me to give up my hard earned hauling.  Finally, I dug out the snatch blocks I had purchased (so that’s what they were for) and rigged the rode to one of our powered sheet winches. The winch was able to hold the load so when we took up slack we kept it.  Finally we recovered the anchor.  But it was obvious that we needed to get the windlass fixed.

We returned to San Evaristo where Lupe Sierra, the restauranteur, helped me find a vice. With a little help we were able to twist the strippers arm…into the right shape then drill and tap for new bolts since the old ones were pulled out of the winch body.  I reinstalled the winch and it seemed to be in working order.  Meanwhile, we remained anchored with the backup.  We saw gusts to 30 knots and everything held, but I’d much rather have had my all chain set up.  We waited for the winds to lighten so that we can recover our back up anchor.  My best guess as to what happened to our one year old, looks like new windlass, is that during the height of the storm the stretch in the nylon anchor bridle took up all of the slack in our chain giving a forceful jerk on the windlass… some of the mounting studs were also bent.  Another reminder to be sure there is no chain tension on the drum once your bridle/snubber is in place…. We had some in, just not enough.

Bahia San Carlos/ Timbabiche – Feb 22, 2017

We departed San Evaristo.  Next stop is Timbabiche, Bahia San Carlos.  Another deserted beach where a few Pangueros make their living fishing. In the past, the Sea of Cortez was an active pearl fishery. Here, Spaniards used slaves to harvest the pearls.  A huge pile of these shells remain at Ensenada Grande.  The Spaniards came back years later to mine the pile of shells for Mother of Pearl.

Here at Timbabiche, there is the remains of a once big beautiful house built in the 20’s.  The Story from the Sea of Cortez book (Excellent) is that an impoverished fisherman found a 5.5 carat pearl. This allowed him to buy a fleet of fishing boats and to build this house, aptly named Casa Grande. When he died, the relatives couldn’t agree on what to do with the house and it slowly fell into ruin with many of the parts and pieces being carted away to build other structures.

 Puerto Escondido – Feb 23, 2017

Starting a few miles north of San Evaristo, the coast slopes northwest and there are very few anchorages that provide good protection from the predominant north winds.  For this reason we skipped a few stops and are now on a mooring at Puerto Escondido

This post sounds a little travelogue (y) and our activities might seem boring to an outsider, but I am amazed at how quickly each day passes. The scenery changes constantly and I find myself just staring at the horizon until two hours later I realize I haven’t moved.  Lisa says you can spend a lot of time rating pelican landings.  The boat is holding up well with only minor fiddles here and there.  For much of this leg, we have had no internet and life feels calmer without the around the clock political news.