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CETUS TALES
After leaving Gig Harbor, WA in 2009, we spent 3 winters in the Sea of Cortez then sailed to the Galapagos Islands, French Polynesia up to Hawaii, then to San Francisco Bay. We're now heading down the coast on our way to La Paz.
What a view!
01/13/2010, Isla San Francisco

Isla San Francisco was a favorite when we were down this way on Cetus 10 years ago -- and once again we found it a real delight!

It's large crescent shaped bay is lined with a gorgeous white sand beach and the red rock cliffs offer great protection from the wind. The turquoise water is so clear we could see our anchor set in the sand 30 feet below our bow.

We hiked up the ridge on the south of the island and enjoyed great views in all directions, then, after visiting with friends on the beach we went back out to Cetus for a swim.

Would have loved to stay several more days, but the weather forecast said it was time to head for the barn -- and, it will still be here when we head north again at the end of February!

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View from the top
12/27/2009

Here's a shot from the top of the hill/mountain just behind Marina Palmira. It's a nice little hike with a great view.
I did a SPOT location from the top today -- so I thought I'd better show where we were so you wouldn't think Cetus had traveled inland!

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The Blue Footed Booby
12/21/2009, Ensenada Grande, Isla Partida

We've been enjoying the beautiful anchorage of Ensenada Grande on Isla Partida since Friday. There's great snorkeling on all sides and some good hiking. Then today we had a special treat -- finding the Blue Footed Boobies!

I'd always thought they were only found in the Galapagos and I would have to wait till then to see them. But, the newer, 2nd edition of Sea of Cortez, A Cruisers Guidebook by Sean Breeding and Heather Bansmer has a little sidebar showing where there is a rookery right here on Isla Partida -- in a small bay, La Cueva, right next to where we are. So this morning we jumped into our dinghy, and along with Jim & Ellen (Galatea) in their dinghy, we went in search of the Blue Footed Boobies.

I did a little reading up on them last night and found out that nearly half of the worlds population of them do live in the Galapagos -- some 20,000 pairs. They're a graceful flying and diving bird, but turn clown like during their courtship dances as they awkwardly lift their big bright blue feet up and down. It was amazing as we approached their area to see them sitting on the nooks and crannies of the sandstone cliffs -- you could see the big blue feet from far away!

As we sat quietly watching for some time, you could see some pairs performing their dance and hear their calls -- the female honking and the male whistling. Truly fascinating!

We followed that by going to the small beach at the head of the small bay and hiking up the arroyo to the top of a cliff overlooking Ensenda Grande -- a spectacular view. We then snorkeled around the point on our way back to the boat and saw more fish than we'd seen any other day.

It was a good day.

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We're off to the islands!
12/09/2009, Bahia San Gabriel, Isla Espirito Santos

After a little more than a week at the dock at Marina Palmira, we were ready for a little "vacation" and headed up to the nearby islands. They are as close to La Paz as our old favorite Blake Island was to Gig Harbor, so it was a short hop up here and we had the anchor down before noon and soon after that we were snorkeling in the clear warm water!

The snorkeling was fantastic with loads of colorful fish -- and coral! This was a surprise to us as we didn't remember seeing coral in the anchorages we visited in this area 10 years ago.

We then worked our way over to the beautiful white sand beach and enjoyed the feel of it on our feet as we walked the length of it.

After dinner we were treated to a gorgeous sunset and then we turned on the Christmas lights that ring Cetus's lifelines. It's a peaceful, calm anchorage and we have it all to ourselves!

We plan to explore a few more anchorages on Espitito Santos and then head back "home" to La Paz sometime next week. Many cruisers are now starting to migrate south to Mainland Mexico as the weather cools here in the sea and the water will soon be too cold to spend much time in it. But we're looking forward to exploring and hiking these beautiful islands before the crowds come back up in the prime weather period this spring, and we're very happy we made the decision to spend a year here before moving on.

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12/10/2009 | Jeanne Walker
Sounds Awesome you guys!!! We woke up to 16 degrees on the boat here in Des Moines Marina this morning!! Morning like this want us to get out of here that much more!!

tom & jeanne
12/11/2009 | Dave C
Boy, ditto on what Tom and Jeanne posted. On top of it all, now they won't even let us burn our primary source of heat...our wood stove (burn ban) so we're spinning the dials of the electric meter with the wall heaters. I hate this...I really do...need crew?
Ahhhhh..... La Paz
12/03/2009, Marina Palmira

We pulled into the dock at Marina Palmira on November 29th -- boy did it feel good to be on solid ground again after all the time traveling and on the hook!

We've been busy ever since we tied up with cleaning, paperwork (finishing our FM3's and buying Park Passes), visiting (old and new cruising friends plus a visit from Brother Dave and his wife Pink! -- they made a daring drive up from their time share in Cabo to spend a day with us) and walking -- lots and lots of walking.

Our plan is to stay here till after mid-month and then head up to the islands for the holidays.

A NOTE ON COMMUNICATIONS:
Though we have WiFi here at the marina, we haven't been able to access our aol email. So, if you've sent us something to that address, that's why we haven't responded.
We also don't check the winlink every day now, since the radio connection isn't as easy in the marina.
So, for now, the best way to reach us is through any of our g mail addresses or by phone. One note on the phone is that we can't access the voicemail. So, if you've left a message, we haven't gotten that either! But go ahead and call -- if we don't answer, just try again later!

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Happy Thanksgiving!
11/26/2009, Bahia los Muertos

We had a long motor sail into weather today -- but it was a good day and we got to end it with a nice swim off the boat after dropping anchor. We've got another long day planned tomorrow to get around to Balandra Bay and from there it's just a short hop down to La Paz!

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

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What a day!
11/25/2009, San Jose del Cabo

We reached a major milestone in our journey yesterday when we rounded the southern tip of Baja at Cabo San Lucas about 9 am!

It was just as we remembered from 10 years ago as far as being greeted by dozens of sport fishing boats heading out of the harbor at sunrise, but the coastline seems to be much more built up with lots of hotels along the hills of the coast. The number of people on the beach would indicate that not many of the rooms are occupied however.

We ducked into the harbor to check it out for anchoring for the night, but the harbor was rough and more crowded than it had been 10 years ago -- mostly due to the 2 huge cruise ships in the small bay! So we continued on to the next possible anchorage at San Jose del Cabo -- where there is also a new marina that would be a possibility if the anchorage wasn't good.

We were delighted to find a lovely open roadstead anchorage off a beautiful white sand beach lined with fine hotels. Once again, people on the beach were noticeably absent. About 15 minutes after dropping the anchor in the clear warm water, we were diving off the boat and enjoying the 1st swim of this adventure! Another milestone! How refreshing after our long 30+ hour trip from Mag Bay. We had a good nights sleep and were on our way again at 6:30 this morning as the sun began to rise.

Started the morning with great sailing until our course turned us into the wind on our way to an anchorage at Los Frailes where we plan to spend the night. From there we will have a longer day (about 45 miles) to the next anchorage at Bahia Los Muertos. The winds are supposed to be nearly non existent tomorrow, so we will spend Thanksgiving motoring all day.

We will bring a little tradition to the holiday, despite our travel plans. I'll prepare a lunch ahead of time of dressing with turkey meat (canned turkey from Costco!) and then when we're at anchor I'll heat a small canned ham and we'll have that with mashed potatoes and corn and green beans. I even have a can of pumpkin I'll turn into a pie or at least a pudding tonight.

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Last sunset on the Pacific
11/23/2009, Pacific Ocean

We left Neah Bay about 3 1/2 months ago to begin traveling down the coast. Tonight will be the last night we'll see the sunset on the open Pacific, as we should round Cabo San Lucas tomorrow morning to begin the next phase of this adventure: The Sea of Cortez!

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12/18/2009 | lisa Ramer
How did Neah Bay treat you? We left it late October. We are aboard S.V. Tenacious Grace and have a blog here as well.
On the way to Mag bay
11/21/2009, Pacific Ocean

We left Bahia Santa Maria about an hour ago for the short (20 mile) hop to Bahia Magdelena.

We're traveling in the company of 40 very large power boats that joined us in Santa Maria yesterday. They are the FUBAR -- a rally similar to the Baja Ha Ha, but for large mega yachts. We first heard about it in San Diego, but had no idea about their schedule until yesterday afternoon when they started coming into the bay. Pretty interesting to see that many large power boats come in and anchor all around. We were just glad that we weren't making a night passage when they were -- it would have been a bit nerve wracking seeing so many radar blips and AIS reports while traveling in the dark. They had a party on shore yesterday afternoon and are now headed into Mag bay. They are headed to Man O'War cove, while we are going to Pt. Belcher. Mag Bay is very big.

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Starry Starry Nights
11/19/2009, Bajia Santa Maria

The trip to Bahia Santa Maria remained uneventful and windless, so we made lots of water and got lots of rest. It was a gorgeous star filled night with great visibility. A good trip all and all.

Approaching the headland looked just like making landfall on a Pacific Island, as the mountains on the point are the only land you can see, the rest being flat beach. So we are in a beautiful peaceful anchorage with occasional dolphin and clear blue water.

We plan to stay here a day or so -- like we told our friends on Galetea "Long ago we made a rule that we should stay somewhere at least as long as it took to get there". Then we'll have a short hop (about 20 miles) to Bahia Magdelena and then another overnight to make it down around the tip of Baja at Cabo San Lucas.

Changed the ships clocks to Mountain time today -- should make the sunrise and sunset occur at a more reasonable hour!

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Traveling Day
11/18/2009, Off the coast of Baja

The good news is we made lots of water today......... but you know what that means: we were motoring with no wind. But the seas are smooth, the sky is clear and it's a pleasant day out here and looks to be a good night. We're hoping to see more of the meteor shower tonight -- only saw a few shooting stars last night.

Spotted a few whales today and some dolphin stopped by for a visit.

So on we go!

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11/19/2009 | Dave C
Man, you guys are making good time! At this rate you'll be in Cabo and heading up into the sea by Thanksgiving!
Great Sail
11/17/2009, Bahia Asuncion, Baja California Sur

The 50 mile passage from Turtle Bay to Asuncion was wonderful! We were able to sail as soon as we left the harbor at sunrise. Sunny blue sky, smooth seas with 10 - 15 knots of wind abaft our beam -- it doesn't get much better than that. We did have a gray whale sighting, but pretty far from the boat to have a good look.

Like all good things, it did come to an end as the wind died just before noon, and we had to motor sail the rest of the way. But that wasn't bad, either, and we used the engine time to run our watermaker and desalinated 15 gallons of water to replenish our tanks.

By 3:00 pm we were anchored in beautiful little bay, well protected from the NW wind and swell and had a lovely night. We are staying here today to rest up and prepare for another overnighter to Bahia Santa Maria. Meteor showers tonight!

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False Start
11/15/2009, Bahia Tortuga, Baja Mexico

We got up at 4 am and hauled anchor and motored out of Turtle Bay as the sun was rising -- off to a good start.

Galetea had some glitches with their navigation system, so we headed back in to Turtle Bay so they can work on it. It's a beautiful day and we'll enjoy another night here and hopefully be off again tomorrow am.

Yesterday I began to have all emails sent to comcast addresses from my winlink address returned as undeliverable. Not sure what the problem is, but if you're comcast, don't be alarmed that you don't hear from us. I'll try to post on the Blog daily, as well as sending out SPOT reports daily -- even when we're not traveling.

Enjoy your day!

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11/15/2009 | Monica
I was surprised when I got the Spot with you still in Turtle Bay so was glad to read the explanation. Its good that SV Galetea's navigation went out while still at a good place to turn back. Hope its a simple fix for them. I'm sad to be part of that Comcast glitch. me
Turtle Bay
11/14/2009, Bahia Tortuga, Baja Mexico

What an enjoyable stop!

We put the dinghy in the water yesterday and with Jim and Ellen (Galatea) went into the small town to look around and find the Veracruz Restaurant that provides free WiFi. The town was much as we remember from 10 years ago. Since this is a stop for the Baja Ha Ha Rally from San Diego to Cabo San Lucas they are very cruiser friendly and can provide all the services that might be necessary -- fuel, water, laundry, food and internet.

The wild life in the bay has been very entertaining, as well. Hundreds of birds flock around feeding -- we especially enjoy watching the Pelicans dive from 20 feet up. Seals swim amongst the birds and this morning we were treated to a few dolphin swimming around our boat.

Today we'll top off our fuel, I'll wash a few clothes and bake some bread (I started a sourdough starter while in San Diego -- something I've never done), Our plan is to leave tomorrow morning and do a day hop (about 50 miles) to Bahia Asuncion.

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Another Day at Sea
11/11/2009, The Pacific Ocean

Our stay at San Quintin was short, but eventful. Yesterday afternoon the Mexican Navy entered the harbor and sent boats out to our three anchored boats and boarded us! We've been in anchorages in the past were they went aboard boats, but this was a first for Cetus.

3 men came aboard, two with machine guns (as seems the norm in Mexico for any military) and the third with a clipboard. They were all very polite and just recorded a bit of information (name of boat, name of captain or owner, documentation number, etc.) It didn't seem that they were really checking us out, more just making contact and assuring us that if we had any problems or needed anything that we can contact them on VHF channel 16. So a little excitement was added to our day!

After a good long sleep to make up for the lack the night before (as we traveled), we got up and hauled the anchor and motored out of Bahia San Quintin during a beautiful sunrise. Our intention had been to do an overnight sail to Isla San Benitos, as it had come highly recommended by a couple of friends, but the weather forecast had us changing our minds and we will do the overnight but make landfall in the much more protected, Turtle Bay. The weather forecast has a front coming down with high winds and seas beginning Friday, so we (along with Galetea) thought it best to get to a nice protected anchorage instead of the iffy one behind the small islands. So it will be all night and most of tomorrow traveling to reach Turtle Bay, where we will stay put for a few days.

The afternoon wind we'd hoped for hasn't come up, so we're back to being a motor boat for now. But the seas are smooth and it's a pleasant ride. Not much wildlife so far on this trip, just a couple flying fish and a shark. So on we go!

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Oh what a night!
Heidi
11/10/2009, Bahia San Quintin

This was the best passage of our voyage since leaving the San Juans!

Not only was there NO FOG, but there was WIND! Cetus is a sailboat after all.

And the wildlife was unbelievable! It began before we exited Bahia Todos Santos (where Ensenada is located) when the water suddenly EXPLODED with dolphin! Over a hundred dolphin were literally flying across the water fleeing a couple killer whales that were in hot pursuit and also leaping high into the air. It was like nothing we've ever seen before. It did give us pause as one of the whales headed right for us surfacing just a few boat lengths away.

Later in the day as we sailed along at 6 - 7 knots with following seas we were treated to more dolphin -- but just the playing feeding kind. Terry spotted a gray whale while I was down below (at least that's what he says...)

After a beautiful sunset the sky stayed bright with stars and then even brighter when the moon rose about midnight. We did have to drop the sails as the wind died about 9 pm, but it was still a pleasant night of travel.

We went slow, as to not arrive at our destination before daybreak. Soon after the sunrise we worked our way into the bay, followed by Galetea and Calypso, and dropped our anchor.

We're enjoying this beautiful, calm anchorage.

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Ensenada
Doing time in Ensenada
11/07/2009, Baja Naval Marina

We'd planned to make Ensenada a short stop -- two nights -- just enough time to clear into the country, rest up a bit and then head on to remote anchorages.

But once we docked we began hearing about the big swell traveling down the coast -- a result of a nasty storm in the Gulf of Alaska -- and we've been keeping our eye on that. It is predicted to pass through Saturday and Sunday, so we've decided to stay put here in the marina because we don't know how big it will really be when it gets down this far, but didn't want to take a chance on being in an uncomfortable anchorage somewhere.

That's given us the opportunity to explore Ensenada a bit, and it's been quite enjoyable. Yesterday we walked around the city with Ellen and Jim and armed with a street map from the visitors center. We went to 3 museums -- the first being an old (1800's) jail. Definitely not somewhere you'd want to spend any time as you can tell from the picture of Terry in his cell.

The next stop had displays of Mammoth bones and tusks and the very early history of the area. The last was set in a grand old hotel, The Riviera Hotel and Casino (built in the 1930's).

The bar in the Riviera has a plaque saying it is where the Margarita was invented! And the bar was reminiscent of the bar in the Jack Nicholson movie, "The Shinning". Lots of old pictures from it's hey day and many shots of Ensenada then and now -- truly fascinating.

I'll upload new pictures today so you can take a look at Ensenada for yourself.

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Mexico!
Heidi
11/05/2009, Ensenada

The fog we encountered when leaving San Diego stuck with us for most of the trip to Ensenada, but lightened up mid morning giving us good visibility to enter the harbor.

We tied up to the dock at Baja Naval Marina a little before 2 in the afternoon, got settled in and enjoyed a nice dinner aboard Galetea then a good nights sleep.

Today's big event was to clear into the country. The beauty of doing it here in Ensenada is they have incorporated all the offices you must visit into 1 building, saving you from walking all over town as we had to last time in Cabo San Lucas. You must go to Customs, Immigration and the Port Captain. All went well and we are good to go!

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