Thursday, December 30, 2010

Sunday, January 2, 2011 - Bahia de los Muertos

Sunday, January 2, 2011- Bahia de los Muertos

We spent the few days before Marie Noel’s arrival doing boat chores and provisioning. My major task was to fix my dell computer (which I hate). For some reason, it had stopped recognizing my telcel nokia stick modem. I tried the modem on another machine, and it work well. I decided that there was something wrong with the driver for the stick and tried to down load a new copy from telcel. No luck. Finally, and only desperation would drive me to this, I decided to call Dell. Of course the 800 number would not work from Mexico, and there was no other number on the website. I had an inspiration and called the 800 number using Skype and it quickly put me in touch with a lovely man in India named Charles. He very efficiently took billing information before passing me on to lady with an unpronounceable Indian name to take care of my technical problems. She was able to drive my computer remotely and did so for the better part of an hour. Unfortunately, she did not fix the problem – instead suggesting that I call nokia. She talked me into getting a program to ‘declutter’ my computer. After an hour and a half, I was $100 poorer and the modem still did not work. Somewhat disgusted, I decided to give the new software a try. Damned if it did not fix the problem.

Marie Noel arrived at 5 on the 20th after a very long day. She had gotten up at 3 EST – a 14 hour day. We took her to the Costa Baja Beach Club palapa – which she decided looked like a movie set – for a nice early dinner and retired early.

The weather forecast was good for the next couple of days, so we left early and headed north. By the time we got as far as Isla San Francisco, the wind had come up from the south, making that a poor anchorage. We continued up to the village of San Evaristo which has a lovely harbor. Marie Noel and I took a stroll through the village which boasts about 20 families, a school and a desalinization plant and visited a remarkably well stocked tienda. Then back to the boat to introduce her to dorado, which, as we expected, she found to be delicious.

The next morning we woke to an unusual sight – fog on the hills behind San Evaristo. The wind had died down, so we headed back to San Francisco, one of my favorite places. The beach is white and the water an extraordinary aqua color and we had a lovely mellow day beach combing, reading, and napping. The water was 72, but with the air temperature at 76, we did not feel the need to swim.

Later that afternoon, a young woman, Alicia, from a 37 foot sailboat named “On Verra” kayaked by. Her boat was home ported in Portland Oregon, so we hailed her, asking where in Portland she lived. She was somewhat vague about that. In fact, I don’t believe she ever lived there, but it was a good home port tax wise. While talking, she mentioned that they had been down in Patagonia in their boat and had gone on to Antarctica. Earl immediately asked her to come over for drinks and share their stories with us. I warned Earl that I was determined to have dinner at a reasonable hour, so to cut off the drinks at 6 so that they would leave.

They did not seem to have a dingy and Earl had offered to give them a ride, but they said no problem. Sure enough, promptly at five, they arrived together in a ride on top kayak. They were fully dressed, he with a beret, she sitting on his lap, and a bowl of fresh ceviche on hers. Alfredo looked quite delightful with his hat and wonderful smile. He spoke wonderful Italian English and Alicia looked delicious in a rather raggedy tee shirt. What a couple they turned out to be and what a story they told! It was enough for several books and a couple of movies. Needless to say, they did not leave at 6.

Alicia was born in New Orleans and started sailing at the age of two. After completing St John College, she headed for San Francisco where she worked teaching sailing. Before long, she was crewing boat deliveries in the Pacific and it was not long before she parted ways with her college sweetheart. She had met Daniel, a computer software sailing man. In time they bought On Verra and set off, with Daniel doing some telecommuting. Seven years later found them on an atoll in the middle of the Indian Ocean, part of a community of sailors who were living the good life, swimming, sailing, eating fish and coconuts, playing beach volleyball and partying.

Meanwhile, Alfredo was single handing a steel hulled sail boat eastward across the Pacific, headed for the same atoll. 500 miles from it, his engine threw a rod and spewed oil all over the inside of his boat. The winds died and he limped slowly to his destination where he was met by the earlier arrivals. Everyone pitched in with parts and labor, and within a week the engine was working. It was such a nice place that Alfredo lingered for five months instead of the one he had planned. Over that time, Alicia and Alfredo had become friends, Alicia secretly swimming across the lagoon for coffee while Daniel worked on this computer.

Things finally came to a head on Alicia’s birthday. She and Daniel had decided to have a Garden of Eden party. They were dressed as Adam and Eve in strategically placed leaves. Everyone came appropriately dressed with plants and body paint. Daniel came wearing an apple, the forbidden fruit. In the course of a wonderful party, many leaves were lost, and at the end of the evening Alicia announced that she was going home with the forbidden fruit. The next day, Daniel kayaked all her stuff across the lagoon and shortly thereafter both boats left headed for the tip of Africa. Poor Daniel was dealing with a boat that was not set up for solo sailing and had a tendency to sea sickness. Periodically, Alicia would leave Alfredo and help Daniel out on the On Verra. Eventually after some very rough sailing they made it to South Africa. Daniel found some crew and headed for New York. Alicia and Alfredo headed for Brazil.

They loved Brazil. Unfortunately, after a while it was discovered that Alicia had no visa, so it was time to sail on. Their new friends loaded up their sail boat with provisions, including tons of green coconuts, and off they went. Alicia was running a fever and went below. Sailing with a 20 knot wind, six miles off shore Alfredo ran into a reef which took the bottom off his boat. It took two minutes to sink and the life raft did not deploy. They had just enough time to save their passports and a little money. Holding on to some floating jetsam, they swam towards shore and found a dive platform on to which they climbed. From there they swam after coconuts and water bottles and back on the platform they watch pieces of Alfredo’s life drift by.

In time, some fishermen rescued them. Alfredo bemoaned his situation to a fellow Italian that he met. He was told that nothing he lost was irreplaceable; this man had lost his son which put it in perspective. He had a 61 foot boat in Maryland which needed to be delivered to Palermo and he gave Alfredo the delivery job, despite Alfredo having just sunk his own boat. Their travels and story continued, and I will not try to remember it all. Eventually, Daniel called Alicia and told her to come and get the boat. He said he had bought it for her and she should have it. Once again, Alicia and Alfredo had a home. In the years since they have sailed everywhere. As she told us, if they want to go somewhere, they sail. After Patagonia they had gone to San Francisco, found it too cold, and had come to the sea of Cortez. The boat has spent two summers on the hard here. During the first, they hiked the Pacific Crest trail from Mexico to Canada and hitch hiked back. The second, they bicycled 8,000 plus miles around the USA. Now they are off to Pitcairn Island which they have never visited. One future destination is South East Asia from which they want to make a trek to the Himalayas. On the 37 foot sailboat they have 2 bikes, 5 pairs of boots, 5 sleeping bags, two tents and God knows what else. Pretty hard core!

The next morning, Earl found that his grey water tank was not working, so we headed back to La Paz to fix it. Earl had a spare. The pump was in a pretty hard to get to place under the guest bunk, but he eventually replaced it. Unfortunately, it did not solve the problem. After much analysis, he discovered that he had put the new pump in backward. It works very well now.

We spent another few lovely days at anchor with Marie Noel around Espiritu Santo. The time went far too fast. We had a couple of days on land before she left and we took a trip to Todo Santos to see the Pacific Ocean, shop and visit the original “Hotel California”. We also had a chance to introduce her to our friends John and Maria Luisa who loved her.

Then it was time for her to leave and two days later our friends Clark and Joan arrived from La Conner Washington. Now, having celebrated the arrival of 2011, we are headed to the mainland. We ran down to Muertos yesterday, a lumpy ride with 30 mile an hour winds. It is still howling today, but the forecast is for it to come down. It looks like there is about a 48 period of okay weather which should see us across to the mainland. I am keeping my fingers crossed!

Friday, December 17, 2010

Friday, December 17, 2010 - Marina Costa Baja

Tuesday, December 14, 2010 – Leaving the Hook at San Francisco

Predictably, when we woke to a beautiful morning Sunday, Earl had the motor warming up and the lines untied before breakfast. We left on glassy seas and headed to Caleta Partida, one of our favorite anchorages. Shortly after we anchored, the wind came up from the north and gusted for the rest of the day up to 30 mph. One by one, we were joined by others, and we all enjoyed our beautiful and snug position.

The next morning, once again we were off before breakfast. Earl clearly thinking fish and wanting to test out his new fishing lures. We were sitting in the pilot house with our first cups of coffee when we heard the line screaming through a reel. Earl was off in no time, after turning off the stabilizer and autopilot. The next thing I knew, we were rolling in the swell and everything was hitting the floor, while Earl yelled instructions. I never caught up. While I was trying to mop up the salon, Earl was trying to deal with the dorado he had pulled in. It was bleeding, but lively, and in no time the back deck looked like a slaughter house. By now, I was feeling not well! Not one of my better mornings.

Fortunately, the Hook at San Francisco was beautiful. We spent the afternoon in a most lazy fashion, reading on top deck. We were joined by the National Geographic Cruise Ship. It is larger than our normal company, but much quieter than the more common ‘party’ boats that we have encountered. Later one of the mates came over to our boat by dingy. He apologized for disturbing our tranquility and very graciously invited us to join them on the beach for a barbeque. We thanked him but declined. We had dorado to barbeque on the boat. We ate on the back deck and it was glorious.

To make up for the past couple of days, it is 8:30 and we are only now leaving.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010 – leaving Los Gatos.

Tuesday, we decided to head up to Los Gatos by way of the Canal de San Jose where we have caught fish in the past. We had a wonderful cruise. The water was glassy and the scenery as always breathtaking. Before we even left San Francisco we hooked and lost a dorado. During the day we caught two more and four bonito – some even on one of the new lures. This channel is known for whales and we saw a pod of orcas, a pod of pilot whales and some other large whale. In addition, there were manta rays and dorados swimming on the surface.

The real reason we had come to Los Gatos was to get lobsters for dinner. Manuel, a local pangero, is well known among the local cruisers for visiting boats at anchor in Los Gatos with fresh lobsters. Patiently we waited. Finally around 5, he showed up. He told us that he had been sick, which we had heard from other cruisers, and could no longer dive for lobsters. Fortunately for us, his son Manuel would dive and they would be back in the evening with some. He had some embroidered mats that his wife had made. He said they took her two days each, which I can well believe. I bought three for the grand total of $20.

True to his word, the two Manuels were back by 6:30 with 9 lobsters. The younger Manuel was wet and shivering. The water is relatively cold for extended diving and he has no wet suit – they are too "caro". No one had a scale so we guessed high on the poundage and gladly over paid. We told Manuel that we might be back on Christmas Eve. Manuel asked if we would bring him 20 liters of gas when we returned. Instead, Earl gave him three gallons of gas in plastic gas can. Manuel promised to return the container in the am at 8. Bright and early, there he was with three more lobsters as a present. I think we are going to grow shells.

Today we are off to look for more fish.

Friday, December 17, 2010 – Costa Baja Marina

On Wednesday, after we left Los Gatos, we headed for waters east and north of Isla San Jose to look for fish. We had done well here before. Sure enough, shortly after passing a bunch of porpoise, we hooked a nice dorado which we kept. After that fishing seemed to dry up, so we headed west to the Canal San Jose. On the way, east of Isla San Diego, we passed patches of red water. It looked like red tide. We will need to see if that occurs here. Once back in the Canal San Jose we started catching more dorado. I lost count, but I think it was four. Anyway, the man was happy.

We tried a new anchorage, at the southern end of Isla San Jose in an area called Bahia Amortajada. This is right near a large mangrove area and lagoon. We had heard that there were clams to be had there and they are among Earl’s favorite food. He decided that we would try near the outlet to the lagoon in the morning at low tide. The evening was lovely. We were alone, although there were two sailboats anchored within sight. There was a nice light breeze and it was pretty close to heaven.

As usual, Earl had his underwater lights on, and, as usual, he was wandering around some time during the night. He noticed that the small fish which are usually jumping in the lights were quiet. The reason, it turned out, was a seal who was delighted to have his dinner lit up. He would come by the stern, within arm’s reach. Daisy who was up could hear the seal snort and was all excited. She wanted to go out on the swim step to get a closer look, but Earl would not let her.

The next morning the Captain changed his mind about clamming. Much as he loves clams, he likes to catch fish better and he really would like to get another marlin. In addition, it was windy and there were waves on the beach. So off we went towards an area on the east side of San Jose called El Bajo on the fishing chart. Before long, we were in choppy water. Recognizing that it would be hell to bring in a large fish under those conditions, Earl headed south along the east side of Isla Partida to another new anchorage. This one is across a shoal from our favorite Caleta Partida. The wind was blowing from the west and it was a fine place to be. As usual, we had a spectacular sunset, with only one other boat keeping us company.

This morning we headed for ‘home’, marina Costa Baja. One the way, Earl made a swing to the east in one final attempt to find a marlin, but no luck. No matter. It is a lovely day and we found to our delight that our new ATT i-phones have great service compared to our old Verizon net work. We had coverage most of the way home.

Once at the marina we stopped at the fuel dock and got 525 gallons of diesel, as well as gasoline to replace what we had used and given away. We paid about $2.65 for the diesel.

Pulling away from the fuel dock, our bow thruster quit working. Earl did a great job of getting us into our slip without it. He has had no luck finding the problem so a mechanic will be coming to do it for us. We are getting spoiled by the cheap labor in Mexico. Right now, Fito and Rudolfo are washing our boat, something we used to do ourselves.

This little cruise was 182 miles, 31 engine hours and 22 generator hours. We really did not go as far as that might imply, since we were mostly fishing. It is definitely the journey, not the destination. We will spend a couple of days here, then, Monday evening, my sister Marie-Noel arrives and we will have the joy of sharing this beautiful place with her. I can hardly wait.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Saturday, December 11, 2010 - Marina Costa Baja, La Paz

Less than 24 hours after leaving warm La Paz, we landed in Anchorage to beautiful fresh snow. I did not have to wait long to see the kids. The day after we returned we celebrated my birthday with three sons, two daughters-in-law and five grand children. It was wonderful to see them all. The grandchildren have all changed in just a few months, even the older ones. Bella who is six had grown an inch and lost three teeth and Amelia, 22 months, is now very competently verbal. She particularly likes to sit at the piano with me and sing. She ‘plays’, keeping time, and she has now relegated me to the upper registers, having claimed the rest of the key board as her own. We saw as much of them as possible and had a wonderful mellow Thanksgiving. We are very blessed.
I had brought home dresses from the La Paz public market for Bella and Amelia. Amelia’s was a size 2 and she swam in it, but was not about to be left out when her cousin turned into a princess, albeit a dentally challenged one. Earl took photos, which are wonderful, but sadly he did not bring them back here to post on the blog.
After a wonderful three weeks at home, the thermometer reading below zero, we headed south to La Conner for a brief visit. As we had in Anchorage, we made the most of our time. The day we landed, we picked up our old friend Don Dubois at the airport and caught up with him over dinner. He had flown up from Denver to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the Seattle EPA office.
For the prior few months, every time we thought of something that we wanted in Mexico which was not available there, we had used the internet and to full advantage. As a result, when we reached the house in La Conner, we found the living room looking like Xmas. The boxes were piled so high there was almost no place to sit down. It did make us wonder whether we should cancel our flight south and rent a U-Haul. Fortunately, once they were unpacked, we found we could make do by adding a couple of suitcases.
In addition to seeing friends in La Conner, we had a wonderful weekend visit from our son Jon, his wife Becky and oldest son Justin. They brought Justin’s friend Cortney to meet us, and we found her just as delightful as we had been told we would. The week there flew by and on the 8th of December it was time to return to Mexico.
It was quite a strange collection of stuff that we ended up bringing back with us, including: Thai chili paste- both red and green, bed room fan, outdoor speaker, fishing reel, many fishing lures, electrical wire, hamburger buns, zincs, pillow protectors, frozen pot stickers, wine chiller, paper towel holder, frozen meat balls, hot chili oil, fish oil tablets, bed sheets, bifocal sunglasses, microfiber cleaning clothes, an led reading light and seven led bulbs, hose hook, tons of books, hula hoop, knitting wool for socks, and a cruising guide. Trying to remember what we brought, reminds me of playing “I packed my grandmother’s trunk”.
The last time we flew into La Paz we had been held up in customs because Earl’s boat parts exceeded the allowable limit and Daisy did not have proof of recent deworming. This time, Daisy sailed through. We were doing pretty well, until Earl pushed the button and it came up red. If you get green, there is no actual inspection other then the x-ray of the luggage. If you get red, it is another story. Between the language challenge and the sheer amount of luggage, it was an experience. Earl was finally led off to discuss whether he was entitled to bring stuff in without paying tax – which he was able to do. The customs people gave up and actually ended up not even looking into some of the suitcases, including the one with the cooler full of frozen pot stickers and meat balls.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Sunday, November 7, 2010 – Costa Baja Marina

I can’t explain it, there is no logic, and it’s not as if we are particularly busy, but our time here flies by, even when we are just tied up at the marina. Tomorrow will we head north and turn up the heat instead of the air conditioning. Earl has put the necessary boat systems to bed, and I have done a few jobs, such as defrosting the freezer and cleaning out under the sink, so things will be ready for us on our return on the 8th of December.

We can now say that we have seen the making of a Guinness world record – the largest burrito in the world was made right here in La Paz last week. It was 2.7 kilometers long and stretched from one end of the Malecon to the other. Many restaurants contributed labor and ingredients. When completed, it provided free burrito for approximately 27,000 people. I expect there was a lot of beer sold that evening.

At long last, the golf course here at Costa Baja is open. This weekend was the grand opening with Ochoa and Gary Player in attendance, along with 400 others. A handful played a round, but others will need to wait at least another 3 weeks for the grass to toughen up before they will be allowed to try. Next week will be the grand opening of the newly remodeled hotel. The nice 8 year old hotel geared to business people has been entirely redone to “5 star” resort standards. Apparently it is lovely inside – we will need to take a tour. It seems to us that the majority of the condos are still unsold, and much of the inner marina is empty. The outer marina where the larger boats are moored is slightly fuller. At least 3 big boats have relocated here from Acapulco. Their Mexican owners are all leaving there because of the violence and kidnappings. I am glad that so far our lovely La Paz has been spared.

We rented a car for a couple of days and did some power shopping as well as going out to dinner to celebrate our 38th anniversary. We discovered a new little restaurant, La Boheme, where we had lunch. It is housed in an old hacienda and meals are served in a charming courtyard, where we watched little yellow butterflies dancing in among the bougainvillea flowers. We had seen great flocks of these same butterflies out on the sea, some distance from land, while we were cruising. They seemed more appropriate here.

Yesterday we made the acquaintance of Mark and Sue whose 82 foot steel boat, a Cape Horn, are tied at the end of our dock. They took us for a tour of their boat. From my point of view, with its generous public spaces, giant master suite, two large guest staterooms each with its own bath, and enormous engine room, it felt like a 3,000 square foot house. According to Sue, that is probably about right. Earl said it is a ship not a boat. He was impressed with the extensive mechanical and electrical systems including every electronic gadget known to man. Mark apparently loves to work on all of it.

Tomorrow we will pack and trek on north – I can’t wait to see my family.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Thursday, November 4, 2010 - Costa Baja Marina, La Paz

Saturday, October 30, 2010 – leaving Agua Verde and headed south

We had a pleasant evening in Puerto Escondido. I have come to realize that at some of the marinas, such as Marina La Paz, there is a significant semi permanent population of boaters, usually sail boaters. At Puerto Escondido there are three anchoring areas: the large basin of Puerto Escondido, the very small basin called the Ellipse at the entrance, and a big area right outside called the Waiting Room. If you use a mooring buoy or anchor in Puerto Escondido you are charged a fee. I believe the same is true for the Ellipse, but not for the Waiting Room. I think virtually all the boats in the Ellipse are semi permanent. Anyway, there is a real community built around the marina, including the Hidden Port Yacht Club. The Club has a huge book exchange and outside tables and chairs, almost always occupied. On the radio most of the chatter is about social or domestic stuff. For example, one question regarded the scheduling of the pizza party and the associated question of whether to use regular dough or sour dough to make crusts, and who might have some starter.

Exercise on a boat is problematic, especially on a motor boat which does not inherently require much labor. I have a mini stepper which I am trying to use daily. It is boring, but if the seas are flat, I can use it outside and enjoy the breeze as we are underway. Early morning in Puerto Escondido, I saw something new. On the bow of a nearby sailboat silhouetted against the sunrise, was a woman using a hula hoop. She made it look easy, and kept at it for at least 15 minutes. I shall have to check out the stores in La Paz and see if they carry hula hoops, although I remember how hard they were to use 50 years ago and I am not sure how successful I would be today.

Movement is the norm when boating with Earl. We left Puerto Escondido early. There are many lovely anchorages right nearby on Isla Carmen, but Earl wanted to head north. We thought we might go north for a couple of days, and then return and anchor in front of Loreto so as to visit the farmers market on Sunday morning. We had stumbled on it last year and looked forward to a return visit. So our plan was to spend a night at Isla Coronado and then go north to Juanico which we had loved last year.

Coronado was beautiful -water so clear that we could easily see the bottom and our anchor. I had a lovely swim. It was a bit rolly, so Earl put out our flopper stopper and from the water I could see it going up and down in the swell. We had internet coverage so I was able to catch up on emails and the news on the current polls for the Alaskan Senatorial race. It was a peaceful evening.

The next morning, Earl heard a new forecast which called for winds on Sunday, Monday and Tuesday. Anchoring at Loreto requires flat seas, so that was out, and, since we have a plane to catch on November 8th and stuff to do in town before we leave, we did not want to be weathered in up north. So we pulled the anchor and headed back south to Agua Verde.

I took the kayak to the beach to visit Maria’s tienda. According to the guide book, it was new. I got a little damp landing the kayak, but it is a causal place, and I don’t think anyone noticed my wet shorts. I finally found Maria’s. The front room of the shop looked very typical with a couple of coolers and some baskets with onions and garlic. I wanted some chilies which she had. She then invited me to look in the back room, which is new. It is huge and lined with shelves. The only thing missing was merchandise. It is quite sparsely stocked. It was a challenge to find anything, but I did pick up some cookies, soup cubes and some homemade tortillas. I stowed the groceries in the kayak where they would stay dry and got thoroughly wet going out through the waves on the beach. Who cares? The weather and water are warm. When I got back to the boat, I went for a swimming in my already wet clothes and the water was the most perfect imaginable.

While I was out, Earl had invited the people on the two sailboats anchored near us to come for drinks. They came ready to party, bringing booze and munchies. They were delightful. One boat had two couples and the other one. The three ladies had known each other all their lives – all born in East LA. One couple, Rita and Darrel on SV Overheated, have been making their home here for the last 10 years. They have a condo in Mazatlan and their boat. She had on a lovely pair of beaded earrings which I admired. It happens that she makes these and offered to sell me a pair- so I am richer one pair of earrings.

Earl showed off his boat to the guys, then we had the ‘pink’ tour, which was quite different, with emphasis on knitting, pottery, reading materials, and storage, instead of whatever it is the men admire. My walk around bed was greatly envied by ladies who have to struggle with making the other type, which tends to leave one needing a shower. Finally after 4 plus hours, everyone left with directions to Ibarra’s pottery, leaving us with a large collection of empty bottles. As they were leaving, Dick from the SV Deborah Rae pulled the starter cord and knocked the flashlight his wife, Armi, was holding into the water where it continued to shine all night. We look forward to seeing more of Rita and Darrel when we get to Mazatlan in January, and we may catch up with the Deborah Rae at the Hook at San Francisco.

We are on our way to the Hook, one of our favorite anchorages. We plan on spending several days there at anchor while the winds blow, if they blow as forecasted which is always a maybe. Earl has his fishing gear out and Daisy in on alert.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010 – Underway from the Hook to La Paz

On Saturday we ran down the east side of Isla San Diego and Isla San Jose. Around 3 pm, it finally happened. Earl hooked a blue marlin, probably between 200 and 250 pounds. What excitement! Of course it would have been better if there had been a larger crew for Earl to direct. I had a hard time running from one thing to the other. From the controls, to the back, to the controls – get this, do that, etc – instructions coming fast and furious from a very excited man. I did not do a good job with the camera. I had it in hand when the fish started jumping, but I was so in awe that I forgot to snap photos until too late. It jumped six times and was a beautiful sight, blue and silver. Then when Earl got the fish up to the swim step, I think I ended up with photos of bits and pieces of Earl and the fish. It is too bad, but even without photos I don’t think we will forget the experience.

We pulled into the Hook around 6 and dropped our anchor in lovely clear blue water and went for a swim. The anchor stayed put for what is probably a record – three nights. Sunday am Earl woke me when it was still dark. Our underwater lights had attracted a large ball of bait fish, which in turn had attracted some larger fish. At times the ball of bait was so dense that it blacked out our underwater lights. The noise, fish splashing, was incredible. The ball would consolidate, and then big fish would move in and break it up a bit. It was mesmerizing and fascinating.

We spent two lovely days at anchor, playing with the dingy, kayaking, and swimming in the delicious water. Last night we invited our friends from Deborah Rae and couple from two other sailboats over. One of the sailboats, named True North, belong to a lovely couple from Mount Vernon Washington, 15 minutes away from our home in La Conner. Loren and Mary have spent a lot of time boating down her and are currently keeping their boat at Costa Baja. We will hope to see them all in the future.

Thursday, November 4. 2010 – Marina Costa Baja, La Paz

We arrived home on November 2nd in time to have a lovely dinner at the beach club palapa prior to listening to the election returns. I must admit I am tired of listening to politics. I wish the various parts of the government would just govern efficiently and stop the politicking. Last night we met people whose boat, Totem from Coeur D’Alene, has been moored near us since we arrived last fall. Judy and Bruce are a delightful couple, with 6 grown children and 14 grandkids. They were unexpectedly liberal, given their Mormon backgrounds and Idaho residence, and breathed a sigh of relief when we said something negative about Sarah Palin.

This morning I took Daisy for her per flight physical with Dr Tomas, who is a wonderfully gentle man. Of course Daisy beautiful behaved. Since she ends up having a physical before virtually any travel, she probably has the best preventative care of anyone in the family.

Earl has been busy doing boat chores. There always seems to be something to keep him busy. First thing this morning was bleeding air out of the steering system and next will be changing the oil. While he does that this afternoon, I will go to the public market and look for fancy dresses for Bella and Amelia to use for dress up.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Wednesday, October 27, 2010 - Puerto Escondido

Friday, October 22, 2010 - Cruising down Cerralvo Channel

The outboard was quickly repaired, I don’t understand the technical issue but apparently the motor should now start more easily than ever before. We had planned to leave on Wednesday morning, but Earl was feeling a little under the weather. Instead, we took advantage of having John’s car and a free day and did a little shopping in the afternoon. First stop was a Ferra Mar (marine store). The stated reason was to search for a speaker that we could mount on the boat deck. Our first stop was disappointing in that area, but had lots of fishing gear which is as irresistible to Earl as the pottery is to me. Laden with new lures and hooks for him and a new hat for me, we left and tried two other stores for speakers, including the last, Yee’s. Yee apparently is the La Paz speaker store. He had a huge inventory, but not what we wanted. A final stop at Ibarra’s pottery for couple of minor purchases and we were set to go out.

As usual, 8 am meant sometime before 8, so we got an early start. Earl wanted to catch a fish and we trolled fishing gear for 65 miles over the next 10 hours to no avail, up the east side of Espiritu Santo and Partita and back again to Bonanza. We have charts that indicate the hot spots and we did see other boats fishing some of those, but we got nothing. While it was perhaps disappointing for Earl, I thought it was a lovely day. We saw the usual dolphins and a rarer group of seals. Coming into Bonanza we saw a large school of fish, probably about 2 or 3 pounds, jumping apparently chasing something. When the prey jumped in turn, we saw a school of little fish, maybe an inch or two, jumping as well, lovely little bits of silver.

Today we left early after a lovely sunrise. We have decided to go south towards Muertos since the fishing is supposed to be better in that direction. Shortly after we left our anchorage, as I put the eggs in the frying pan, I heard the clicker on the fishing rod. Great excitement – we have our first fish of the year, a beautiful 20+ pound dorado. I won’t need to defrost anything for dinner tonight.

We are now running south down a channel formed by Isla Cerralvo and Baja. We will be passing La Ventana which we visited by car with John and Maria last week. This is reputed to be an excellent fish area, so I am watching out front while Earl is sitting back with the fishing lines. I have company – Daisy is sleeping in the sun, and a white egret has joined us. After flying around the boat for 5 minute or so, it decided that we looked like a good perch. He has been sitting on our bow railing for 45 minutes now.

Monday, October 25, 2010 – Running up the west side of Espiritu Santo

We are on our way north, running up the west side of Espiritu Santo to Evaristo for the night. On Friday we ran down to Muertos, catching only one other fish over the next 8 hours. It was a bonito which we released. Muertos is a beautiful anchorage and we did not have to share it with too many others. Actually, other than pangas, there was only one other boat, a 42 foot Krogen named Hobo which the owners bought in Sitka. Since we had run 120 miles over the last two days, Earl agreed to spend a day at anchor in Muertos. I loved it. I did some housework (or more appropriately boatwork) and then we cleaned up at went to the beach for lunch at the palapa. There we met a couple from Chicago who are vacationing in a house at Muertos with their two daughters, aged 6 and 7. When hearing that we were from Alaska, the 6 year old asked if we had met Sarah Palin. Pretty sophisticated 6 year old. Interestingly the girls are going to the Lycee in Chicago. Their mother said that after 12 years of French in school, she still felt that she could not speak and was determined that her girls would have a different experience.

That evening, Larry and Lena from the Hobo came over from drinks and burgers. They are in their early 50’s. Originally from Vermont, they moved to Seattle and worked there in the environmental field before retiring 12 years ago while in their early 40s. They had a 42 foot sailboat which they pretty much took around the world, sailing first to Alaska, then down the Pacific Coast past the West Coast of Vancouver Island, to San Francisco Bay. Then on to Mexico, New Zealand, South Pacific Islands, Australia, Indian Ocean, West Coast of Africa, South Africa, Brazil, and the Caribbean. They tried living in Seattle again, and after a couple of months of winter, asked themselves why? They have spent two years down here with the Krogen and are now going to head for the Panama Canal and Trinidad.

(Just interrupted this, while Earl played with a nice Dorado. Since we had a bunch in the freezer, we let him go. I don’t know why Earl buys so many lures. I think we have caught almost all our fish on the same small lure which is called a Mexican flag because it has the same colors.)

Sunday we headed back to Bonanza. We caught and released a couple of bonitos, and now we are headed north.

The weather changed rather suddenly over the last week, for the better. The high temperatures we had been having are gone and it now is a more delightful range in the 80s. Apparently this is typical here, sometime around October 15th, summer goes away.

Monday, October 25, 2010 – San Evaristo

We are anchored at San Evaristo, a small village of about 20 families with a beautiful natural harbor. We were in here last year, later in the year. This year, it is unexpectedly green. I am once again amazed at the ability of the flora here to flourish in the desert. Our neighbors are two Canadian sailboats, and we are all riding peacefully. It has turned out to be a lovely day, not only because of the weather and scenery. We caught fish. Actually, we ended up catching 6 dorado (on the same lure) and 1 Mexican bonito, all of which we released.

Tomorrow we will head for Los Gatos. We are hoping that the lobster fisherman who fed us last year is still there and will bring us our dinner.

Before we turned in for the night, an American sailboat pulled in. The passengers were a pair of Alaskans who were excited to see our Alaskan flag. They came by and visited. Keith and Marsha are from Sitka, although Marsha taught school in Anchorage for 16 years before she married Keith and moved to the Southeast. They are an interesting couple. Keith is an artist and they make their living selling stuff to tourists in the summer, and, as a result, they can vacation in the winter. They were with an old friend, the boat captain. Keith made a big thing about Henry, the captain, sailing all over the Sea of Cortez, despite his very advance age – 80. Earl, at almost 76, said he did not think that was so unusual and that 80 is not that old.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010 - Puerto Escondido

We bypassed Los Gatos. According the Keith, the lobster man was not in evidence when they anchored there. Agua Verde is not very far further north. Along the way we caught an additional 3 dorado, still on the same lure. Daisy is becoming a very good fisher dog. She usually hears the clicker on the rod before we do, and she bounces up and lets us know that we have a fish on.

We saved one dorado, thinking, correctly, that there would surely be takers for fresh dorado at Agua Verde. There were some very happy sailboaters. According to one of them, you need to go at least 6 knots to catch a dorado, and 7 to catch a yellow tail - interesting, and possibly true. We were also told that the water this year is much colder than usual. The water in the northern sea did not get to the usual 90 degrees this summer which helps account for the absence of hurricanes. The hills around Agua Verde are very green right now. Apparently some areas got occasional rain storms.

We will go ashore later today and hopefully the internet connection will be good enough to post this. We are looking forward to dinner at the little restaurant here at the marina. We enjoyed it last year.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Monday, October 18, 2010 - Marina Costa Baja, La Paz

Thursday, October 14, 2010 – Caleta Partida

How quickly has the 10 days gone since our arrival. It is very easy to slip into the total vacation mode. We had intended to leave for a short cruise last week. For some reason, given our previous experience with deliveries in Mexico, we were optimistic that the part would arrive within a couple of days. It was ordered Monday, so we thought Wednesday or Thursday we could be off. We needed to be back in La Paz on Sunday morning to pick up our friends John and Marie Luisa at the airport in their car which we have been using. But even leaving on Thursday would give us a couple of days out. Every day we checked the UPS tracking and as the week progressed our optimism faded. Finally on Friday with the weekend looming, the package was finally in Mexico - Tijuana. The marina did get a call on Friday from customs about the contents of the package, but other than that, nothing appeared to be happening.

Sunday am we met our friends at the airport and gave John back his car keys. John, whose boat seems always to be ailing from something or other, was delighted that this time someone else was waiting for a part. In the meantime, we decided to drive down to Los Muertos to show John and Marie Luisa the resort we had seen last year. The resort is called Gran Sueno and the bay has been renamed, at least for advertizing purposes, Los Suenos rather than Los Muertos (dreams rather than dead men). It was about an hour and a half drive on a reasonable road. There is a long climb up and then a relatively short descent crossing a peninsula. Looking back as we climbed we had a wonderful view of the bay of La Paz. The desert was surprisingly green. It has been a very unusual summer. There have been no tropical storms in the Eastern Pacific. Locals are distressed by this. They depend on summer storms to provide rain. It is a wonder that so much can grow without much rainfall. Even more surprising are the wandering cattle which are something of a driving hazard.

Surprisingly, John had never taken his boat south to Los Muertos. I guess he thinks he has found heaven in the anchorages to the north and there is no need to go south. He was impressed by the anchorage, but both he and Maria Luisa were blown away by the resort. We had taken the precaution of contacting them the day before. When there was no answer on the phone, we sent an email asking if they were open and whether we could come for lunch and a tour. The note back said they were always open. They were ready for us. A table was set with a view over the water and a staff of three or four were on hand to serve us drinks and tacos. Of course the most wonderful thing is the trains! We apparently had not explained this to John. He was astounded at the enormous collection of train sets, many different gauges and all set up around the second floor of the dining room. The ‘train master’ was not there so we did not get to see them running, but it is an extraordinary collection all the same. After touring the grounds which include a number of guest houses, we left, with Marie Luisa trying to convince John to rent the largest house for the family over Xmas. On the way home we detoured to explore Ventana, a small town that has apparently become very popular with American expats. It is a beautiful setting, but I prefer La Paz.

John’s company imports large amounts of stuff and he does a lot of business with UPS. On Tuesday afternoon when the tracking information showed that our package was rescheduled for delivery on Friday the 15th, he made some phone calls. Magically, the package that was in Tijuana on Tuesday afternoon was available for pickup at 10:30 on Wednesday morning in La Paz. Five minutes after it was in Earl’s hands, it was installed, and five minutes later, we left the dock. At 11:15 the bumpers were up and the fishing lines were down. The air and water temperature were matched at 84 degrees and the sky was cloudless. We wandered around looking for fish while the temperature rose into the nineties. John suggested a stop a Bahia San Gabriel for lunch. On the way I made scallop ceviche. The water in the bay is a beautiful aqua due to the sand and shallow depth. We could see our anchor. After lunch with John and Maria Luisa, everyone went swimming. In my case it was more like basking. The water was warm, still refreshing, but not invigorating. After such a morning, it was nap time. The wonderful thing here is that the temperature drops quickly after the sun goes down. We ran about an hour up to Caleta Partita which is a reliable overnight anchorage and had a lovely steak dinner on John’s boat under the stars.

Today has been relaxed (we needed to recover from all of yesterday’s activity.) John and Marie Luisa brought the rest of the ceviche back to our boat for lunch, then a swim, then a nap, then Thai chicken curry at our boat for dinner after watching the sunset from the Serenity’s boat deck.

This may make it sound like heaven, but we do have problems even in paradise. The outboard refuses to start. Earl has pulled and pulled till I wondered whether I should schedule shoulder surgery for our return to Anchorage in November. Then he took everything apart, put it back together and pulled some more. We will need to return to La Paz and get it serviced. To make things just a little worse, John, who could not get his outboard started, took his apart and achieved success. Tomorrow, they return to La Paz. We will spend a couple more days out and head back on Sunday.

Monday, October 18 – Costa Baja Marina, La Paz

We left Caleta Partita on Friday morning and headed north a couple of hours to the hook at San Francisco, one of our favorite anchorages. Soon after we cleared the north end of Isla Partida, we found ourselves in the middle of a pod of pilot whales. They were feeding at the surface and did not find us in the least threatening. Daisy was beside herself. Then, after her heart rate dropped back to normal, we saw that the sea to the west of us was full of large porpoises. They swam with us for quite a while. At one point I counted 11 of them under our bow. I think they find us as interesting and we find them. Frequently as they pass the front of the boat, they turn on their side to look up at us. Daisy got her exercise for the day.

We saw a number of boats fishing including a large group of pangas anchored over a pinnacle near San Francisco. The new headgear style among the pangeros seems to be Chinese style cone shaped hats. They look rather out of place. We also saw masses of yellow butterflies, many quite far from land. This is something that we did not see last year, so it must be due to the time of year.

By the time we anchored the temperature was up to 90. The water was exceptionally clear, and from the deck we could see the bottom with occasional fish gliding by. Swim time! Nap time! Then burgers and salad on the back deck!

The wind came up a bit over night and we woke to a little rocking. Earl was itching to get some fish, so we left San Francisco and cruised down the East side of Isla Partita and Isla Espiritu Santo. Last year we had some success in this area and we were optimistic. Finally, Earl rang the bell on the back deck, the fish on signal. I was a little rusty on the procedure, but it came back to me: slow down, out of gear, turn off the stabilizer, run back and reel up the second line. Earl first thought he had lost the fish, then that it was too small. It was a dorado, and we decided it would be perfect for dinner. Once again we saw how beautiful the fish color is in the water. Earl grabbed the line to gaff the fish and it somehow managed to jump over a strut for the swim step. Earl had no choice but to grab the leader and unhook it from the swivel. As he lifted the fish up to slip the gaff under its gills, it somehow managed to pull the leader from his hand. Last seen our dinner was swimming away with one of Earl’s prized (and expensive) lures still attached.

We anchored in Bonanza which is on the east side of Espiritu Santo. Once again beautiful water was irresistible, and we actually did not need bathing suits.

On Sunday we planned on cruising south towards Ventana to get some fish. Unfortunately the wind was kicking up the water and when the wind and tide meet in San Lorenzo pass, it makes uncomfortable boating. We anchored for the day about an hour from La Paz at El Merito. The water was not clear, but it still looked good. The swim was cut short by little invisible jelly fish that chased us out quickly.

Now we are waiting for the outboard repairman. We will do our in town chores and leave tomorrow. We need to be back here for our flight on November 8th, but that gives us almost 3 weeks to cruise. I don’t know if we will go north or south- that is the Captain’s call. We have now gone over 10,000 miles.