Saturday, November 12, 2011

Wednesday, November 16, 2011 - on the way into La Paz

Wednesday, November 9, 2011 - Southbound from Juanico

Our aim when we left La Paz a month ago was to head north for the Bahia de los Angeles. On our one previous visit there were had found some clams that Earl loved and has lusted after ever since. However, going north we found the water temperature dropping rapidly and the clarity dropped as well. Fishing was definitely lack luster - probably related to water temperature- and, final insult, the weather seemed to be characterize by violent and frequent winds. As we sat in the marina in Santa Rosalia with 35 mph north winds kicking up white caps in the harbor, Earl decided to abandoned the trip north. So the 4th, the day after Clark and Joan arrived we headed south to Punta Chivato at the north end of Concepcion.

Shells at Chivato

The 4th was a double celebration - Clark’s birthday and our 39th anniversary. The trip south was lovely and smooth. Clark caught his birthday fish, a small dorado, on the way. Then, as soon as we anchored, we took a trip to the beach and Joan and I picked up a couple of bags of shells - most of which we will probably discard. On Chivato the shells are so numerous one does not need to look very hard. We recovered from all that hard work with a swim in 79 degree water. Finally we had a fabulous dinner after cocktails on the deck. Earl grilled a beef filet roast, I caramelized onions, and Joan cooked her brother in law’s ‘smashed potatoes’, a delicious version of home fries. As we were pausing before the bubbly and dessert, the wind came up. Suddenly it was blowing 30 from the south, pushing us toward the beach. We had carefully picked an anchorage that was protected from the north, leaving us very exposed from the south. We picked up and headed south in the dark to seek shelter in front of Mulege, encountering wind gusts of 42 mph, and finished our celebration at 10:30 before heading for bed. The winds here can definitely catch one unprepared.

Noon, Saturday the 5th, found us down at Santispac in Concepcion in front of Ana’s. Cook’s night out! It was fun, but did not compare to the prior Saturday’s Halloween party. We were in bed early, and -surprise- 5:30 the next morning Earl was pulling the anchor before dawn. Strong north winds were forecasted for Tuesday and Earl was headed for an anchorage at Juanico, 50 miles south. It was a long day but early afternoon we had some excitement. Clark landed a big bull dorado after quite a fight. It was 4 feet long and probably about 40 pounds. What a thrill! It was far more fish than we could deal with, so we released it.

We settled into a wonderful niche behind the spires in Juanico a place the Scarboros had never visited. There were just a few other boats, but gradually others came in until by the next night there were seven. Earl and Clark went fishing Monday morning and returned with a rooster fish which Clark had landed - it was well received at dinner time.

Our neighbors on the sailboat Juce, (Judy and Bruce) came for a quick drink. They had just made the trip over from San Carlos and were headed for La Paz. They spend the winter at the La Paz Marina and love it. It does not sound as if they ever leave the dock. They have a wonderful time with the cruising community right there.

Tuesday the wind did blow as forecasted. It is expected to last for three days. Clark and I decided we needed some exercise, so we dove in. The water felt great, but the current was pretty strong. I felt as if I was in one of those pools that work like a treadmill. Clark made it around the boat but admitted that he had to use the crawl - no little breast stroke was going to make way against the current. It was refreshing and we did get exercise which always makes me fell more entitled to my wine.

Today, when we got up at dawn, the wind was down a little and it looked as if the seas were down. Earl decided it was time to go since the tide was not flowing against the wind. It is now gusting up to 35, but the wind is behind us and we are riding like a duck rather than bashing into it. What a difference! We have had some fun with a group of porpoise that entertained us by breaking out of the waves and jumping high up in front and along side us. Most of the day we just sat. Joan and I have been working on a puzzle that seems to be a sea of tulips and impossible. Clark is deep into his book and Daisy is resting and waiting for the next excitement.

We are finally pulling into the anchorage south of the Isla Coronado. The wind is very brisk, still hitting in the 30s, but the anchorage is quiet after the trip down and the water lovely. Earl says I may not swim since he does not want to pull anchor to chase me as the current takes me south.

Saturday, November 12, 2011 - Puerto Escondido

I had hoped to post this on our way south as we passed Loreto on the morning of the 10th. Usually we get a good signal there, but for whatever reason, there was none to be had. We ran into Honeymoon Cove which we have visited a number of times this year. It did not disappoint - truly a lovely spot. There was still wind from the north but we went for a swim anyway. Earl hangs a line with a buoy behind the boat as a precaution. We had not realized how strong a current we had until we were in the water. Joan held onto the the buoy and as the boat swung on the anchor, she found herself playing an aquatic game of crack the whip.

Then yesterday we pulled into Puerto Escondido and rented a car. We had been running out a everything it seems and it was time to hit the grocery store. Earl stayed on the boat while Clark, Joan and I went to town. Before loading up, we spent a happy hour being tourists. There is a lovely old church in Loreto. It was the first Jesuit settlement on the Baja and it was responsible for missions all the way north through California. It calls itself the ‘head and mother of the missions of Baja and Alta California”. We wandered through the little shops and felt badly that we were the only tourists around and not really that interested in buying anything.

Puerto Escondido Marina Personnel

Yesterday was my birthday. My special birthday present was the news that the remodeling on our cottage in Massachusetts had finally passed its electrical inspection so that we can close up the walls in the kitchen and sooner rather than later move the cabinets out of the living room. After more than a year, maybe it will be habitable soon. We spent the evening at the little Portobello restaurant in the marina. After a yummy dinner, the proprietor - a lovely, and rather good looking, man named Pedro - sang to me. Earl knows how to embarrass me! That said, it was very sweet and he has a lovely voice.

We are off to the south and plan on being in La Paz on the 16th.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011 - Fishing off Isla San Francisco

We fished our way down to Agua Verde. It was a lovely smooth trip and I did not even notice the lack of fishing success. Agua Verde is a lovely spot to anchor with good protection from most winds. The entrance to the bay is marked by a wonderful rock, Roca Solitaira which probably gets more photographic attention than most. The water is as advertised, green, and was lovely and warm.

We had not been anchored long before we were visited by the pangero who has visited us every time we stop here. He sells shell necklaces and embroidered ‘serviette’, doilies, presumably all made by his wife. As always, we bought. Joan now has a small wall hanging for her boat, a interesting mermaid and a couple of turtles. Earl asked about lobsters and ordered some from the young man in the boat. He promised to deliver them before 9 pm.

We all spent at least an hour alternating swimming around the boat with floating and loved it. A bright yellow plastic dingy came by us as we swam. It was a couple from a boat that had been anchored near us at Punto Pulpito, Hugh and Victoria. We had a nice chat with them and invited them over to have a drink with us.

It was always interesting to meet people here. This couple was from Portland, Oregon but had been living on their boat for some time. It is a 60 + year old steel army boat which they have been converting. I gather it is still a work in progress even after 7 years of effort. They have a 3 year old grandson in Vancouver, Washington and so they will be taking the boat back north. Mexico is too far for your primary home.

After dinner, our lobsters arrived. The young man had been diving for them with a small light. We had neglected to fix the price earlier and he definitely took advantage of that, responding with an outrageous price when we asked how much we owed. We paid, but next time I think we will ask before ordering.

The next day, we were off early as usual, but it was an unusual day. Overcast and raining off and on all day. It looked like a foggy northwest day. It was the first rain in Agua Verde this year and I wonder if we will see things blooming in response to the moisture.

We have converted the cabin into a small sweat shop. Joan likes to knit and was using bits of left over sock yarn to turn out infant hats at an industrial speed while I toiled on a sweater at a much slower pace. Daisy’s job was watchman. She spends her time listening for unusual noises - porpoises and fish. Her fishing alert is actually vital, since her hearing is way better than ours. We caught two nice dorado and Daisy was in heaven. She definitely considers herself involved in the process. Earl always goes out on the swim step to bring the fish in and Daisy was dying to be there as well. She clearly felt that she had earned the right and had additional role to play. I don’t know how many times we evicted her before she accepted that she was not allowed on the swim step. She settled for standing at the door to the swim step, her tail going at high speed. She works very hard and deserves credit.

That night the forecast called for wind from the SE, turning to S then to SW. We picked a an anchorage that was good for those directions, tucked behind a sand spit on the SW side of Isla San Jose in Bahia Amortajada. It was still grey and raining, and no one wanted to swim. It would have been a nice evening to have a small fire.

Of course, this being 2011 in the Sea of Cortez, the wind as predicted went from SE to S to SW and but then continued on the W, ruining the anchorage. At around 1 am, we started to feel the boat moving in the swell. Finally at 3 am we were up and moving. I say we, but as soon as Clark showed up to help Earl, I went back to bed. An hour later we were anchored on the NE side of San Francisco.

We slept in till 8 am and woke to beautiful blue skies and sun. The rocks seemed even more colorful than usual, perhaps the rain was responsible. Although Earl wanted to fish, I talked him into going into the Hook on ths south side of San Francisco and there we spent the day. This is a particularly lovely place and the water was clear and warm. I went snorkeling and then for a long swim. For once I actually went a distance. Then we all paddled around and enjoyed the water off the beach before Clark and I swam back to the boat. Lunch was scallop ceviche and avocado. Pretty wonderful.

Earl invited Pete from the 37 foot Island Packet, “Quantum Leap” to come for a drink. He is from North Dakota and obviously did not grow up sailing, but loves it. He spends about 6 months a year on the boat, alternating back and forth between Mexico and home. His wife’s real love is horses, but apparently she is a good sport and comes with him most trips.

Today we are off after fish. Earl’s back started to bother him yesterday and this morning he is having great trouble moving but he says the fishing helps his back.

Wow, about two hours into the morning and we had excitement. Daisy gave the call, and I got to the back deck just in time to see a marlin on the surface taking the lure. Everyone got energized. It took about half an hour to get him in and release him. Daisy was on task the whole time, running back and forth and whining with excitement. Her part is probably the most exhausting. I get to take directions from Earl and he and Clark did the macho stuff while Joan and I tried to get photos. What a thrill! After he released the fish, I asked Earl how his back was feeling. Response: What back?

Wednesday, November 16, 2011 - Heading into Costa Baja in La Paz

We finished off yesterday with a dorado which we released followed by the most wonderful swim imaginable in Ensenada Grande. The water was perfect and there were no current or waves. We must have been there an hour. We anchored in the bay and, for once, did not get blown out. I slept like a log until I was awaken by a big spash and cold water coming through the bedroom porthole and onto my face. Apparently there was a big ball of bait by the boat and pelicans were diving on it.

We stopped at beautiful Bahia San Gabriel. Earl took us for a tour of the frigate bird rookery and then we went for the Scarboros’ final swim. We have all had a wonderful cruise!

We are headed into the marina in La Paz. The Scarboros will leave on Friday morning. Then on Saturday special guests arrive - our son Paul, his wife Sara, and, most importantly, three year old Amelia.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Friday November 4, 2011 Leaving Santa Rosalia

When we left Salinas on the 22nd, we fished our way down to Isla Danzante and Honeymoon Cove. No fish, but a pleasant trip. The 23rd we spent the day giving the boat a thorough cleaning in preparation for the arrival of our guests on the 25th. Then late in the afternoon we went into Puerto Escondido and anchored. Killing two birds with one stone, we went to the little restaurant, Portobello, at the Marina for drinks and dinner and internet connection. It was about as pleasant as could be, sitting on the deck overlooking the marina at sunset.

We finished up our boat work on the 24th in the morning. Earl had arranged for a rental car from Hertz at noon. Puerto Escondido is about thirty minutes from Loreto and shopping, so we always get a rental car. (The marina always calls Hertz, and we noticed at the airport the next day that there are other rental agencies - Eurocar, Fox and Thrifty among others, and we will check them out next time and see if the rates are better. ) We had lunch at Tio Lupe. It was good, but incredibly slow. Earl had an enormous fish soup - more like a stew actually. It included crab, lobster, clams, scallops, shrimp and fish. Very pleasant even if slow. We wandered around town looking for some specific items. I wanted a container to put by the stove with implements and finally found a couple that I liked. Then we tried to get some scuba masks to replace our leaking ones, but could not find any.

The man from Hertz had recommended that we drive to Constitution for groceries. It is a town of 60,000 and has much more to offer than Loreto which is a small town of about 10,000. We took off shortly after 7 am and had a beautiful drive through the mountains watching the sun slowly light up the wonderful rock formations around us. The road was excellent. As promised, Constitution was a good place to shop. We went to Leys and they had most everything we wanted. After that we stopped at another store that was more like a Costco with lots of canned goods, but not much in the way of fruits and vegetables which were our main goals. Finally we went into a Ferra Mar (marine store) and found some fins and masks. It was a good trip and one I think we will repeat if we are again in Loreto.

Then it was time to meet Howard and Louise at the airport. The Loreto airport is very modern and the temperature inside was lovely. Louise was a little taken aback by the heat when we left the building. I promised her good swimming so we hurried back to Puerto Escondito, picked up our anchor and headed for lovely Honeymoon Cove and warm clear water.

On the 26th, Earl started off early at 6:30 while the Esslingers slept in. There were winds forecasted for the next day and we wanted to get into a nice anchorage to spend a couple of days waiting for the weather to improve. We headed for San Juanico which is an excellent anchorage for north winds. We were there by lunch time. The water was 84 and perfect for swimming. Down came the dingy and kayaks for the next day.

The next day the promised wind had arrived. It was too windy to kayak or swim. The good news was that the winds had cooled things down lots so we were finally able to sleep without air conditioning. We were visited by a nice couple from the sailboat, AirOps, with not one but two schnauzers who came on board for a cup of coffee. Daisy was delighted to be the hostess and the dogs were all very well behaved. The couple keep their boat in Puerto Escondido. They told us lots of stories about local politics in there which were reminiscent of what happens in other small groups. The up shot was that the manager Connie who was well known among the cruising community was fired and things have since settled down.

Mary’s hobby is shells and she told us a great deal about where to find various shells and where to go clamming. One place we need to visit is the fish camp at Santo Domingo at the entrance to Bahia Concepcion Apparently there is a large pile of murex shells on the beach there.

We started north on the next day, the 28th, only to find it choppier than we had anticipated. We anchored behind Pulpito, a wonderful rock formation that is shaped like a church pulpit. We had never anchored there before and found it a wonderful shelter from the north wind. The downside was there was no beach to speak of and much of the land was fenced with barbed wire which we would have to climb through to explore, so we spent the day on board. There were two boats there, a largish motor boat and a sail boat. We never saw the occupants if any. Around lunch time, we were joined by 4 very small open sail boats, each with 4 people on board They came from the north and anchored with more or less skill. Eventually they swam to beach, climbed the rocks and made their way through the barbed wire and up the rock head land. We saw them come out on the top of Pulpito. I suspect it was an outward bound type of group. They entertained us.

The next day, Saturday, October 29th, we head for Conception. As is the way sometimes, we could not anchor in front of the fish camp to look for murex shells. The wind was up and from the wrong direction. So we motored on down to a very protected anchorage called Santispac. We had spend several days in a storm last year here and had good memories of a small beach restaurant, Ana’s.

It was time for dinner out. Around 5 we piled into the dingy and went in. The tide was out and we had to wade the last 20 feet to dry land. We were surprised at the large number of cars in front. As we walked in, it was clear that there was a Halloween party underway. We were greeted at the door by an extraordinarily slender and tall woman with long black hair and wearing a glittery one piece pants outfit with spaggeti straps- apparently Cher. Six foot legs and a twelve inch waist, and quite a dancer. A nice couple from a sailboat, the only other people not in costume, invited us to sit at their table. We sat there with our barbeque, margaritas and beer and enjoyed the show. There is apparently a good sized expat community in the area, presumably all retirees and they meet on Saturday nights at Ana’s and party. For many of them this was their first chance to see one another since returning south after the summer. There was a chunky lady dressed as Smokey the Bear who danced all night, frequently alone, with or without her shovel. Kermit the Frog had a long red tongue that he would snake out at one and a couple in Zorro outfits had several sword fights. Fred Flintstone and his wife showed up, as did the lady decorated with shells including clam shells boobs complete with smaller shells for nipples. Sadly none of us had a camera, so these pictures are in our memories only.

It was a wonderful evening and we stayed much longer than we had planned. It was dark when we left and we had no flashlight to help us find our dingy. Earl, miracle worker, found it, but then the bad thing happened. Louise walked into a large stone and badly hurt her foot. She had to spend most of the rest of our trip with her foot elevated and iced.

Sunday we headed north. We had promised Louise a chance to collect some shells so we stopped at Punta Chivato where the shells are so plentiful that they form drifts. Louise is a determined lady and even in pain she managed to make it. It is an overwhelming sight, but once again, no one had a camera. We filled bags with shells and Louise spent the next day sorting through them to determine which ones she would take back to Alaska.

We fished all day Monday as we headed north towards Isla San Marcos. All we got for our trouble were a couple of bonito which we had named Howard Fish after he caught ten of them on his last visit. We anchored on the south side of the island. There is a large gypsum mine on the island and the anchorage is reputed to be dusty but we found it perfectly pleasant and had our last swim that afternoon.

The next day, Tuesday November 1st, we headed into Santa Rosalia and tied up by noon. I took Howard for a short tour of the town and we picked up a little fresh fruit and eggs. It was terribly hot, and we had to stop for a cool cervesa. There was wind forecasted for Wednesday at noon. It arrived with a bang at about 10 am. Suddenly we had north winds that gusted up to forty. There were white caps in the harbor. It was crazy and lasted overnight.

We took Louise for a very short tour of the city by cab so she was able to see the steel church by Eiffel, but we really did not have the opportunity to show her the parts of the city that we love, like the panadaria and the fruitaria.

That night we invited a couple from the sailboat Isabella for drinks. Jane immediately sympathized with Louise. It turns out that she had a minor foot operation which lead to a mers c infection - a one in a million occurrence. She had seven operations, one of which she went into not knowing if she would have a foot since amputation was one of the possible outcomes. She contributed a ice pack for Louise to use on her trip north the next day.

Then it was Thursday the 3rd. We woke before dawn and walked the Esslingers to the bus station next door to the marina for the 7 am bus to Loreto. We would return at six to pick up the Scarboros - Joan and Clark- who were flying down on the plane that the Esslingers would take north.