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.
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.