Saturday, March 27, 2010

March 27, 2010 - Isla Coronado

Our plan was to buzz north quickly to Santa Rosalia, 225 miles from La Paz, which we should have been able to do in three long days. Small problem called weather. When we left La Paz on the 24th, we found a short steep chop that would have done Cook Inlet proud. Obviously the boat can take it, and actually so can we, but we don’t want to. I had hoped for a long run to Evaristo, but instead we stopped after 20 some miles at Partita. At anchor we watched our wind gauge showing gusts of 35. We checked the Ocens weather and it sounded okay, so we took off early the next day and pounded into it again and once again stopped after 20 some miles at the hook at San Francisco. Yesterday, the Ocens forecast was better than okay, and it was a lovely ride. The sea was glassy and we had nice cruise to Agua Verde. We considered running a little further north, but we had a companion boat, Holiday, a 60 foot Nordhavn traveling with us, and they had never been here. So we are tucked in and enjoyed this beautiful spot. Earl had good luck fishing on the way north, so the dorado was immediately made into ceviche that we brought to the Holiday. They had come over the prior night for dinner – burgers- and invited us to dinner in return. Wow. Fabulous boat and fabulous dinner! Instead of burgers we had fresh lobster on the grill along with delicious spiced rice and grilled veggies. We left Agua Verde today at dawn. I had hoped to go 60 miles to Juanico which would have put us 60 miles from Santa Rosalia. By noon, the weather which had been okay started acting up. We stopped about 20 miles short of my goal and tucked in behind the Isla Coronado, about 6 miles north of Loreto. Although it is just a roadstead, not a cove of any kind, it is an excellent anchorage. The wind has been blowing a steady 30 with gusts of almost 40 and we are quietly rocking at anchor. We can see the lights of Loreto and have internet, but we have the place to ourselves.

Weather has been an unexpected issue for us down here. We miss the US and Canadian marine forecasts. I had never realized what a luxury they were – relatively reliable and always available on the VHF. We are struggling to find a good substitute here. There are several sites that are available on the web such as buoyweather, bahainsider etc. and some of them will send text forecast to our sat email. In addition we have Serius weather on our Furuno and Ocens weather which is available on our sat phone. However, none of them seem perfect here. Part of the problem is that the Sea of Cortez has lot of local weather which does not get forecasted by the computer models. The other problem is that the forecast will say 12- 15 like today and be twice that. One of our friends said just to add 5 to all the forecasts – maybe ten would be better. After several nights which started well and ended with the anchor being pulled and the boat moved to a completely new location, we now try to anchor in the best possible anchorages with an expectation that the weather may well change overnight.

The forecast is for 20 to 25 tomorrow. If it is correct, we will stayed tucked up here and explore the Island on foot. If not, we will be off. The wind has gone down to 20, so we will see.

March 27, 2010 - Near Loreto

Here are a few photos of our wonderful trip with Anne and Tim Stone.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

March 24, 2010 - Leaving La Paz

The last couple of weeks have been busy. We had a couple of lovely days in La Paz with Isha, Brian and Bella. I took them to my favorite pottery, Ibarra, and had the pleasure of watching everyone picking out something that they liked. Isha and Brian found some dishes made by Ibarra while Bella picked out a Talavera animal to keep her iguana company. She settled on a dolphin. It is a girl (so Bella claims) and named Olivia. Before putting them on the plane home, we had some restaurant meals - first the very authentic and inexpensive Rancho Viejo, then the delightful grown up restaurant Three Virgins. There the tables are set up in a court yard and one of the fun things is watching the cats wander around the garden and the roof tops. I think that and the brownie were the best part of dinner for Bella. The rest of us loved the food and the company. Just before going to the airport, we had a quick lunch at the Costa Baja Beach Club which is lovely. Right on the beach and open air, the restaurant has wonderful food and drink. Isha opted for a hamburger and I have never seen a larger one.

A couple of days later, Anne and Tim Stone arrived from Anchorage. We had a lovely visit with them. Once again we returned to the islands and had the pleasure of showing them Ensenada Grande and the hook at Isla de San Francisco. Tim caught a sierra mackerel which was eaten quickly in the form of ceviche, and I caught a small dorado which Earl grilled and I topped with hollandaise sauce. Tim and Anne, hardy souls, did some hiking and kayaking. Then we returned to La Paz, made the by now traditional visit to Ibarra and took a trip down to Todos Santos. We had a fabulous lunch on the beach of the Pacific at Cerritos and then wandered through the town and explored The Hotel California. We bought a few knick knacks and came home in time for a wonderful dinner at the Three Virgins.

We are off to explore some more northern areas of the sea. It is exciting to be off on a new adventure. Because the modem speed is very slow right now, I will wait till later to share some recent photos until I have a better connection.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

March 11, 2010 - on the way back to La Paz

The big day finally arrived and we picked up three weary travelers at the airport. The weather was inappropriate – grey and rainy- but that did not bother anyone except me. I had planned on blue skies to show off Mexico. After an early bed, we left on Sunday morning for Bahia San Gabriel on Espiritu Sancto. This was the shallow beach to which we had taken Steve and his family. I thought it would be a good place to start off five year old Bella. When we had been there before, the water was about 18 inches deep for quite a distance from the shore. This time it was less than half that – a giant turquoise puddle under skies that had finally turned sunny. It was perfect for a small child. Earl and I drug Bella around on Mrs Milly Crocodilly, a five foot inflatable toy, and splashed while Brian and Isha soaked up the rays. It was a perfect day at the beach. Then we took off for an anchorage called Partita which has a good reputation and tucked up for the night.
What a ride we had. The wind came up around 10 pm. Earl felt confident in the anchorage and the anchor, so we stayed where we were while the boat bucked. Isha said she had dreams in which she was jumping, unable to stop, however much she tried. Earl was anxious to catch some fish so in the morning we headed north to Isla San Francisco, about 4 hours away. He planned on fishing on the way. Unfortunately, we ended up with seas far too lumpy for fishing. In fact, I think it was the roughest weather I have ever had on the boat. All four ladies, Bella, Isha, myself and Daisy, felt awful. Both Bella and Isha were sick, and the ride seemed endless (as well as pretty pointless, since we could have stayed near Partita). By the time we finally got to the Hook at San Francisco, we were limp. Fortunately, as soon as the boat stopped moving, we all felt better. Down came the kayaks and dingy and in went a large assortment of toys. Bella kayaked into the beach on a tether behind me, while her parents provided escort in the dingy. The beach here was not as sandy as San Gabriel, but there were lots of shells for someone to collect in a bucket and a little deeper water for swimming. Our recovery from the morning was rapid. Brian and Isha said this was their favorite beach so far – Bella actually preferred the sandy puddle of San Gabriel. We decided to stay another day right there.
The next morning Earl and Brian tried to catch some fish on the frozen ballyhoo bait. They were gone in the dingy at least two hours while the ladies played games and read books. Dorothy and the Wizard of Oz was just as wonderful as I remembered it almost 60 years ago when my mother read it to me. The guys returned empty handed but happy. Brian and Isha took off on the kayaks and toured the area, finishing up with a hike up to the top of the island. We were able to see their silhouettes against the sky on top. They said the view was awesome, but they came home with their Tevas loaded with burrs. They were lucky it was the Tevas and not them. We mounted another attack on the beach and all had a heavenly time. Later, Brian and Isha took turns diving off the boat and swimming around the boat with Bella in her life jacket. A perfect day.
All of a sudden it was Wednesday and time to head south. Earl and Brian loaded up the dingy and had a hard time of it. Apparently something inside the winch has gone awry, and the dingy is now on top the boat until we can get someone to fix the winch or some strong young guys to lower it. We left San Francisco and headed for Ensenada Grande on our way home. On the way we were treated to a large bunch of porpoise and seals who entertained us. At Ensenada Grande - yet another beautiful beach. Having no dingy, we loaded Bella and Isha on one kayak, me on the other, and gave Brian swim fins, and off went a strange looking caravan. We were anchored in 11 feet quite a way off shore. About half way in, the water was shallow enough to stand. The beach was beautiful sand and somewhat deeper than San Gabriel. Bella actually did some swimming and we played our hearts out in the sea. Brian declared this the best beach yet. After dinner we watched the pelicans fishing in the light from our underwater lights. Much to our surprise, they were joined by a little seal who delighted us. Fast as the pelicans are at snapping up fish, the seal was faster. The evening was lovely and the stars bright when we turned in at the ridiculous time of 8 pm.
Up again at ten. The wind had switched around and with only 11 feet of water under us, it was not a good place to stay. We should have expected this – it is not the first time we have been blown out of Ensenada Grande at night. So we pulled anchor and headed for Partita, which was only an hour away. There we joined a fleet, at least 10 boats, who apparently knew better than we did. It was a real luxury for me to have Brian on board to do all the first mate stuff. He helped Earl get up the anchor, pulled up the swim step, tied up the kayaks etc. As we were anchoring, a boat in Partita hailed us on the radio. Thinking that the skipper had something important to tell us, I answered, only to have him ask me what our intentions were. Seemed pretty obvious to me, but I was polite, even when he just seemed to want to chat. I wished him a good night.
Now we are on our way back to La Paz. We made a quick stop at Ballandra which is one of the most popular La Paz beaches. Isha found lots of sea glass and Bella and I made a dozen sand cakes, shaped just like the sand pail. Then the wind picked up again and it was time to kayak back to the boat and head for the marina. This cruise has been much too short!

Thursday, March 4, 2010

March 4, 2010 - La Paz

We returned to Serenity on Saturday February 27th after a very brief stop in LaConner to check on our house and see a few friends. LaConner is already having Spring. The daffodils and plum trees were blooming, and the tulips were 6 inches high. It is an early for them and a pleasure for us.

I don’t know if it is Spring here in La Paz. I have no idea how to tell. Whatever season it is considered, it is very agreeable. By late morning the temperature is 78 degrees. It is such a stress free place that I think I will need to start making myself a daily todo list, since otherwise I find myself just lazing around. Earl keeps busy doing boat jobs, which never seem to end. I finally got tired of hearing complaints about the absence of a TV, so we bought a small one and Earl has spent most of the week messing with it. The boat came prewired for TV. There is a spot on the side of the boat to plug in cable, which will presumably work for both the TV and the computer. It did not work. So Earl has spent several days pulling down ceiling panels and unscrewing wall panels to trace the wiring through the boat. We now have new wiring and get a TV signal, but unfortunately we get no sound on the 2 English speaking news channels. He is working on that, and, as they say, it keeps him off the streets.

I did get to spend time with Telcel trying to prepay my air card so that we can get some internet at anchor. Dealing with Telcel is unique. The people are always nice, but that is about all I can say. I was told that I could not prepay more than 1 month ahead and that I must always activate the new payment by going to the website and typing in a special code. Furthermore, since I insisted on buying two month of time at once, I was told that on the day the first month expired, no sooner, no later, I must repeat the process. The nice representative who helped me warned me that their system could not deal with a two month prepayment and might charge me by the kilobyte instead of on a plan. She may be right or wrong. I did not plug in any special activation code and my air card works. Who knows. I have decided that Mexican telecommunications is one of the great mysteries of life.

We are counting the days before Brian, Isha and Bella arrive to spend a week with us. We will pick them up on Saturday and head for the islands. I can hardly wait to share this place with them. For me it is all about playing in the water and on the beach – for Earl it is all about fishing. He has hooked up a water intake and pump to his little bait tank and armed with his new little fish net I think he plans on filling it and catching many large fish on live bait. Maybe Isha, Bella and I will play on the beach while Brian and Earl catch dinner.