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Don & Deb's Big Adventure on Buena Vista
On our way to the South Pacific and beyond...
Hot, Hot, Stinkin' Hot and BRAVO ARRIVES!
08/19/2011, Puerto Refugio, North End of Isla Angel de la Guarda

I was wondering what today would bring...it brought our friends on Bravo! Bravo is also a 46' Peterson sailboat and Adam and Cindi are from Seattle. They will be doing the puddle jump across the Pacific next year as well. They left the BLA area with the same forecast that we had several days earlier...SE winds 14-17. After they arrived they told us by radio that the wind and seas built very quickly and at one point they saw 50 knots! I told you it's crazy out there. It's a combination of things. First, you're moving north in the Canel de Ballenas which becomes more and more narrow for several miles and the wind tends to really hoot through that decreasing gap. Also, well, forecasting up in the Northern Sea sort of sucks. They call it the land and sea affect, so many different land masses and the heating and cooling of the land and the water...well...forecasts are sometimes wildly wrong so you have to be able to handle whatever Mother Nature decides to dish out. Well, Bravo made it but they were pretty buggered when they anchored next to us so I doubt we'll be seeing them for cocktails this evening. I think they were also pretty surprised that about an hour after they anchored next to us a very hot wind from the west pipped up to over 30 knots and blew well into the night. These hot westerlies are pretty well known up here but man are they miserable. Like sitting in a huge blow dryer. The air is hot, the boat gets hot and all you can do is, well, drink water and sweat. OR, jump in the water. I have several ways of coping with the heat, at night especially. I take washclothes and wet them down and put them into zip lock baggies. Then I put them in the freezer and pull them out at night when I can't stand it any longer. I started with washclothes but now I'm up to hand towels. In the morning Don will ask me how I slept and I tell him last night was a 'two hand towel night' and he knows what I mean. To end this on an up note...we sat out last night in the hot wind and looked at the stars...it may have been the best star gazing we has ever done in our lives. Except for Bravo's masthead light, it is so dark so can see everything.

Another Classic Sailing Day
08/14/2011, Puerto Refugio, North End of Isla Angel de la Guarda

After the Full Moon Party we left La Mona early the next morning and went to the village at Bahia de Los Angeles. We walked to the local tienda and bought veggies and a few other items, picked up a jerry jug of gasoline for our dinghy and left at about 2pm. Others decided to stay in town for the night, go out to dinner etc but we had been watching the weather and knew that a southerly was setting up to blow and we wanted to ride it up about 40 miles to Puerto Refugio. We've heard that Puerto Refugio is 'a magic spot' and we wanted to have plenty of time to spend there. Right now there are no hurricane threats keeping us around the safety of Puerto Don Juan and the next cruiser's party isn't for at least two more weeks...it's time to move north again. The first night out we anchored next to Isla Mitlan at the base of a huge volcano. We sat on the boat looking up at the absolutely treacherous trail leading to the top. No Way Jose. This morning there was no wind so we left Isla Mitlan under motor and rode the incoming current for several hours. You have to pay attention to tides in this area. Back down by La Paz for example, a big tidal range would be 2-3 feet. Up here right now we have 2-3 meters. Further north there are 20 foot tides so you have to be careful where you drop the hook or your boat might end up laid sideways on the ground when the tide goes out--that would be bad :) Also, with these bigger tides you want to be going in the direction of the tide, not against it. So, going with the tide and with a southeasterly wind of 15-17 knots forecast - we're on our way. We motored in very little wind for 3 hours and then at 11:30 the wind veared from a northerly direction to the forecasted southeasterly direction. And it started to build. We turned off the motor and we're sailing on a broad reach at about 6 knots with maybe 18 knots from behind. And the wind keeps on building. Now we're moving along at about 8 knots with 20-25 from behind. I tell Don I think we should reef. He says...no need...we're under control. The seas are now building and we've got 4-6 swells and they're getting steeper. I look at the speedo...we're moving along at 9.6 knots! That's the fastest I think we've ever seen in this boat. Finally I insist. Let's reef now! We roll in the headsail and turn into the wind so we can reduce the size of the mainsail. As we turn into the wind and face the seas...we see the true force of the seas we are in - 40 knots! The highest reading I saw was 46! That's alot of wind - maybe the most we've ever seen. We double reef the main and turn back towards where we need to go. We've only got about 5 miles left thank god. There's an inlet between two islands that lets you take a short cut into Puerto Refugio. We decide not to take the short cut and continue around the top end of Isla Meija to find some relief from the big winds and seas. As we turn to the right around the island instead of seeing fading southeasterlies we face a northerly wind of about 20 knots so.....we tack...weird. Well - it was quite a ride. We made it to Puerto Refugio in one piece. Buena Vista did great. Don and I know we have the skills to survive those sorts of conditions. We did, however, have a pretty stiff cocktail or two once the hook was down.

08/30/2011 | Larry Anderson
Wow you guys! We have been thinking of you so much lately! Sounds like you are doing just fine! Love, Lisa, Larry,and Ben...and yes, Ben still kisses his fish!!
The Full Moon Party
08/13/2011, La Mona Beach, Bahia de Los Angeles

La Mona is at the southeastern end of Bahia de los Angeles. The afternoon wind blows hot hot hot right down off the hills into the anchorage. Seventeen boats made it for the first Full Moon Party of the season. There is a tiny estuary lagoon in the back corner of La Mona - it's hard to see until you actually land your dinghy and walk up over the little sand beach. When we got there it looked like a grassy mess, like this 'floaty' party would be a big disappointment. But ever so gradually the water flowed in and filled up the entire area. One side of the little lagoon is a wall of rocks, reminded me of something you'd see around a pool in the backyard of a mansion in Beverly Hills or Hollywood (or even at my friend Arlene's house in Granada Hills). Of course at high tide it was only 2 - 3 feet deep at the most but nice warm water. Everyone arrived with their floaties (noodles, air mattresses, and other inflatables) and we all got in, began to float around and got to know each other better. About an hour later, just after high tide, the water started to flow out of the lagoon, right past the rock wall and back into the bay. You just float out of the estuary with the tide. It was quite fun. I, like many others, floated out then walked back over into the lagoon and floated out again and again. I really enjoyed it and maybe we'll get to do it again sometime. After the float we all went back to our boats for a few hours for a siesta (nap time). Later in the afternoon we all went back to the beach and had a cruiser's potluck dinner. Just as it was getting dark - the International Space Station came into view in the southeastern sky. It was very bright and easy to see as it moved quickly across the sky almost directly overhead to the northwest. It took about 2 minutes to cross over us and out of view. About half an hour later the boats anchored out in the bay started to shine as moonlight hit them before we could see the moon at all. Then the rock wall next to the lagoon lit up as well. A few minutes later we all witnessed the big full moon rise up over the mountain in front of us. It was a memorable experience and Don and I both had a great day.

The Reason Why We're Here
08/11/2011, Puerto Don Juan

We're here to avoid hurricanes and if one happens to come this way we want to be in the safest place possible. August 15th is the 'statistical' start of hurricane season in the Baja. We're currently up to Hurricane #6 which is 'Fernanda' and she's on her way to Hawaii. We hear that #7 is brewing in the 'tropical kitchen' off the coast of southern Mexico and it will be named 'Greg'. There are probably 40 cruising boats up in the Northern Sea right now and we're all here for one reason. To be close to Puerto Don Juan which is one of the Sea of Cortez's best natural hurricane holes. This little bay has protection from wind and waves from all directions. We left Quemado this morning and motored into Puerto Don Juan to see it for ourselves. It has a long, narrow entrance channel and then opens up to an anchorage that should hold at least 40 boats (hope we never have to find out). There's a shoal area which sailors in the past used for careening their boats for repairs or for bottom paint. That area is also a great place for harvesting clams. It's also a haven for stingrays so you have to remember to shuffle your feet so you don't step on one. If you have the Google Earth plug-in activated on my blog site you can drill down and take a look a Puerto Don Juan for yourself. HEY - There is one more reason why we're here. For the 'Full Moon Party' of course! It's tomorrow at La Mona Beach in the Bay of L.A. We're on our way there right now.

Where's My Fish Head?
08/10/2011, Ensenada El Quemado

The crews of Buena Vista and Bravo left Isla Partida after two rather unsuccessful days of trying to find decent snorkeling and fishing. Sailing across the Canal de Salsipuedes (which means 'Leave If You Can Channel' due to high currents) we spotted dozens of dolphin and several groups of whales. We've been seeing lots of whales lately. It's pretty exciting when you're sailing along, and hey - there they are straight ahead. Sometimes one, sometimes ten...we think the latest were either fin whales or sei whales. They don't blow like humpbacks so they're harder to spot from a distance. It's so exciting to see so much wildlife. We stayed the afternoon and evening at a place called Cala Puertocitos de Enmedio where we encountered the same lack of fish and lack of visibility that we had at Isla Partida. The water is so warm right now it is great to swim in however it's also fun to see something while you're swimming. And of course Don is always trying to catch a monster cabrilla with his speargun (maybe one day). This anchorage was really small, a little tight for two sailboats, so on Wednesday morning we hoisted our anchors and continued our march north. With fairly light winds we were able to sail up and around Punta Pescador on our way to Ensenada El Quemado. We've heard it's slightly cooler there because you're anchored at a place where the cool air off the water goes over a narrow spit of land right into the El Quemado anchorage. As we sailed around Punta Pescador Buena Vista hooked up a really beautiful big male dorado. We've been catching lots of dorado (the best fish down here) as they seem to be everywhere we go right now. Don manages to get this big guy on the boat just long enough to put a rope around his tail, remove the lure and throw him back in the water hanging by his tail. Then he reaches down and cuts his gills with a pair of scissors. This bleeds the fish and kills him which is ALOT more humane than what we used to do...bash and bash away with a bat. This way works so much better, no suffering and not a drop of blood on the boat. So with the big fish hanging there we drop the mainsail and get to the anchorage and drop the anchor. As we're finishing with the anchoring process there's a big commotion in the water. I think, God, is that fish still alive? Well, taking a closer look we saw a massive sea lion was taking a big bite of our fish. Don jumped down to the side deck and grabbed the rope. He pulled the fish's body out of the water before the sea lion could take another bite. The big sea lion had taken the whole head off and all the guts and left us with just the body - ready to filet! He continued to circle the boat for awhile waiting for another chance at the fish. No more for you buddy - the rest of this fish is for us!

Classic Day Sailing With Bravo
08/07/2011, Isla Partida

Today was one of the best days we've had sailing here in Mexico. Definitely in the top ten. We left San Francisquito and absolutely flew north with Bravo close behind. They were only behind because we left about 20 minutes before them. Next time we'll make it a point to leave at the same time and actually sail together. Bravo, with our mates Cindi and Adam, is a Kelly Peterson 46' and our boat Buena Vista is a Formosa Peterson 46'. Both boats have the same hull but with different interiors. Buena Vista was really moving - flying wing on wing with 18 knots from behind. Bravo popped their spinnaker but could only fly it for a short time due to building winds. Along the way Cindi suggested we go over to Isla Partida. Don and I jibbed the mainsail over, making it a broad reach with 20+ knots of wind. The seas were only 2-3 feet so we were able to sail fast and comfortably all the way to Partida, a total of 29 miles. Good call Cindi!

Headed to the Northern Sea
08/04/2011, Bahia San Francisquito

We left Santa Rosalia Thursday morning at 5:00 am so we could make it to San Francisquito before nightfall; it's 78 miles. It's not the easiest thing manuevering a boat in the dark. At night you're eyes play tricks on you. Something that's 500 yards away can seem 50 yards away and vice versa. What we like to do is 'lay a track' going in on our GPS chartplotter and then follow the track back out again. We also do this at some anchorages that have a north side and a south side for example. Even though we're planning on staying at the 'north' side we'll lay a track into and out of the 'south' side just in case conditions change and we need to move there in the middle of the night. We got out of Santa Rosalia Harbor just fine following our previous track and motored into the darkness, set our course and headed north. On the way we had winds from nearly every direction possible and all different sea conditions as well. A pretty bumpy trip really. We were able to sail wing on wing the last 4 hours. It was a long day and I was glad when we arrived. The sun was just setting as we rounded the point leading into the anchorage. As we made the turn we spotted our mates on Bravo, Island Bound, and Ponderosa all having evening cocktails on board Bravo and they radioed us a nice welcome. Bravo and Island Bound are both Peterson sailboats like Buena Vista so it's cool catching up with them. It will be fun if we can all sail together sometime. A nice cooling breeze blew most of the night allowing a great night's sleep which we both really needed after those hot and steamy nights at Santa Rosalia. The next day we were all boarded by the Mexican Navy. It's no big deal though. They looked at our passports, visas, and boat documentation and then took at look inside each of our boats. They are very polite and friendly but they are wearing bullet proof vests and carrying very large guns. I imagine their jobs can be very dangerous at times and talking to cruisers like us is probably the easiest part of their job. Final note: It was two years ago that we sold our house in Ventura and moved onto our sailboat Buena Vista. It was one year ago that we had our 'speargun' event at the Phoenix airport. I didn't blog about it at the time...it's a story that's better told in person by me esposa loco Donaldo.

This Must Be The Hottest Place On Earth
08/03/2011, Santa Rosalia, Baja

Yes - the hottest place on earth must be Santa Rosalia, also known as Santa ROASTALIA. We've been here a few days getting ready for the next leg north. We're taking on fuel, water, and scouring all the little tiendas in this small Mexican (non-tourist) town for anything resembling fresh fruit and veggies. The Singlar Marina was full and no one was getting ready to leave so we pulled into Marina Santa Rosalia which is the original small boat marina and has seen better days. But it was cheap and we met some nice folks there and we had pretty good internet access from the boat so we were very happy. Up until now we've been traveling pretty much alone but we've finally caught up with some fellow cruisers who are also 'doing the summer in the Northern Sea of Cortez'. As a matter of fact, two of the boats that were here when we got here are also Petersons, 'Bravo' with Adam and Cindi and 'Island Bound' with Cat and Bill. AND both of them are planning on doing the Puddle Jump next season. Both of these boats left this morning for the next stop which is Bahia San Francisquito and we'll be leaving tomorrow morning early, like 4-5am. It's 78 miles and that makes for a very long day when you're only doing 5-6 knots per hour in a sailboat. Hopefully the wind will be with us and maybe we'll catch another dorado or two on the way.

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