Thursday, February 17, 2011 – Underway from Barra to San Blas
Yesterday around 11 am we said good bye to Stu and Teri, left them behind at the Grand Bay Hotel in Barra to kill a few hours before going to the airport, and we headed north. We are trying to make a fast trip back to La Paz so as to fit in a quick visit to our friends John and Maria Luisa in Cuenavaca before heading back to Anchorage on the 28th of February. The weather forecast was ideal, and, delightfully, has proved to be accurate. We had about a knot plus of current going our way, and, as we made our way toward Cabo Corrientes and Banderas Bay, we were running at over 7.7 knots. The sea was glassy and there were lots of turtles and whales to entertain us. The turtles were about 3 to 4 feet across but I don’t know what type. We had planned an overnight run around Cabo Corrientes and into La Cruz in Banderas Bay, but sometime yesterday we decided to skip La Cruz and save some mileage by running to San Blas. It is now 9 am, the seas are glassy and we have about 20 miles to go. We will have come almost 200 miles in 25 hours.
Earl suggested that I include some lessons learned about cruising this part of Mexico. First, bring some bug spray and use it. We finished our favorite and I did not put any on when we were in Barra. I am covered with bites – from my toes to my forehead. Second, unless you want to drink only bottled water, you need a high tech water filter to fill your tanks or a water maker. We have been spoiled with the reverse osmosis water in La Paz. Third, the anchorages on this side have far more swell than in the Sea of Cortez, so a flopper stopper of some type improves sleeping conditions. Fourth, communications are always an issue. We have AT&T phones with the Viva Mexico plan and have pretty reasonable telephone communications. Don’t plan on using an IPhone for data. Earl did and even with a Mexican plan we had a $300 bill last month. Wi FI connections at marinas are sometimes weak and I am going to look into getting a signal amplifier for my computer. The telcel stick works okay if there is a signal but is never very fast.
This winter is apparently unusually cold. We noticed it is about 10 degrees colder than last year, both air and water. Perhaps this accounts for the lack of fish, which others have noticed as well.
Friday, February 18, 2011 –Isabela and Mazatlan
I took a nap and returned to find that that we were now headed to Isla Isabela instead of San Blas. Isabela is 20 miles further north and we arrived there at 2:30 in the afternoon. Once again we saw tons of turtles today. They really show up when the water is so glassy. We anchored south of Las Monas right behind a panga. The pangeros were anchored and cleaning fish. Later they all took naps, apparently giving their nets time to set. It reminded me of gill netting in Cook Inlet when beautiful glassy seas inevitably meant slow fishing and dozing in the sun. Off our stern small rays jumping, five or six at a time, entertained us. It was a lovely stop.
The plan was to start off again early the next morning. I foolishly thought that meant five or six am. Oh no, 1 am Earl pulled the anchor. I slept till he told me it was my turn at 3:30. Again, it was another beautiful day. I pulled up the weather and it promised good weather until Saturday night. We decided to make the best of it and just keep going to Baja. First we had to stop in Mazatlan to get some fuel. We had a couple of hundred gallons which was plenty, but Earl wanted more weight in the boat in case we got into rough weather.
We got to Mazatlan around 3 pm, after a 95 miles run. We were greeted by boobies and frigate birds that circled the boat and tried to land on us. The radar seemed to keep them off. Once into the estuary, we headed for the Pemex station. It was off the main boat basin and we discovered that we had picked one of the lowest tides ever to come in. We had stirred up mud by the time we were tied up and after taking on 400 gallons, we had no water under the keel. Fortunately the tide was coming in and the bottom was soft, and with the help of the fuel dock personnel we got turned around and headed out for La Paz.
Actually, we are planning on heading for an anchorage on the SW side of Isla Espiritu Santo called Bonaza. We should arrive around midnight on Saturday, + or – several hours depending on the current. There we can rest and make an easy run into the marina on Sunday morning. Docking there will be a challenge since the thrusters are partially clogged with marine growth and will be of no help. As we left Mazatlan, we had gone about 300 miles and have about 250 left to La Paz.
Saturday, February 19, 2011 – Crossing the Sea of Cortez
Last night was beautiful. We have a full moon and perfect weather. Aside from a couple of ferries, we saw no other boats. We are finding that between 4 and 5 hours is as long as either of us can stay awake on watch at night. If we did more of this we might even get into the routine of breaking our night’s sleep into segments.
We have been fortunate to have a current with us. Without a current at 1800 rpm we cruise at about 6.5 knots. With the current against us, it can be as slow as 5 which is a significant difference. Fortunately so far we have been going faster, sometimes as fast as 7.9.
Around noon, we were cruising along at 7.5 knots on glassy seas about 85 miles off shore when we started to see marlin. Earl quickly put out his fishing gear. I guess it is only the journey when there is no fish – if there are fish, it is the fish not the journey. Within 30 minutes he had one on and I was immediately transformed into the helmsman and photographer. The fish took at least 300 yards of line and started jumping as we chased him. Of course I was too busy driving to get any photos, but it was spectacular. Earl, of course, was yelling directions: go right, no left, no straight, in gear, out of gear, move everything off the back deck immediately. Daisy understood just how excited Earl was, and started yelping in sympathetic excitement. At one point, her noise was really getting to Earl and he kept insisting that I kick her to shut her up, which I refused to do. Then when we thought we were finally gaining on the fish, we saw it jumping way off. That was discouraging until we saw our fish jumping much closer and realized that it was an unhooked fish in the distance. Finally after playing it at least half an hour, Earl had it up to the back and then scared the daylights out of me as he went out on the swim step to release the fish. Half an hour later, he was still talking about it. app
Sunday, February 20, 2011 – Marina Costa Baja
We arrived at Bahia Bonaza at 1 am and anchored for what was left of the night. With the full moon lighting up the sandy beach, it was a beautiful sight and we felt that we had finally arrived home -we were only 3 hours away from La Paz. By 8 am Earl had the anchor up and we were off for the last leg of our trip. At 11 am, one hour short of 4 days (we changed time zones on the way north) we were tied up in the marina. During that time we had stopped for 10 hours at Isabela, 1 hour at Mazatlan and 7 hours at Bonaza. We had come 541 miles in 77 hours of running, averaging over 7 knot per hour, with beautiful seas and the full moon at night. A wonderful trip!