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We left Gig Harbor, WA in 2009 and 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 are once again enjoying the Sea of Cortez as we plan our next adventure.
Whales Ho!
03/30/2010, Isla Coronados

We left Puerto Ballandra this morning and made a quick stop off of Loreto so I could make a run to the grocery store for some fresh produce, then went a few miles further and anchored at a beautiful little spot, Isla Coronados.

I've actually been here before, when I came down to Loreto to celebrate my good friends 50th birthday with her and two other friends of hers. We took a panga out to spend a day on the beautiful white sand beach, sunning and snorkeling -- but the hightlight of that trip was the pod of dolphin that escorted the panga along the way.

Today, shortly after anchoring, we went out snorkeling and were amazed by all the fish, and even encountered a large eel and a strange looking stone fish. But the big highlight was when we were headed back in the dinghy, there were a couple whales just passing through our anchorage!

We followed them along for quite a while, along with a couple kayakers that came out to look, too. It was always kind of eerie when they'd go below for a bit, because you didn't know where they might surface next.

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03/31/2010 | Jack and Joan
We knew you were having a whale of a time! now the pics prove it.
Puerto Ballandra
03/28/2010, Isla Carmen

This lovely protected anchorage is just 9 miles from Loreto and 16 miles from Puerto Escondido, yet we have it all to ourselves. The first day one other boat was here when we came in, and two others came in to get out of the weather later that day, but by the next morning they were all gone.

We've enjoyed great hiking, swimming and snorkeling and have found it a comfortable place to sit out a norther.

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03/28/2010 | Dave C.
Gorgeous, just gorgeous. Don't you guys need a lifeguard or something? I work for rum....
Bahia Salinas
03/27/2010, Isla Carmen

Here's the view of the salt flats and bay on the other side of the island from our anchorage.
It was a view worth the walk!

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Snake in the grass
03/27/2010, Isla Carmen

We went for a big hike across the island today, from our anchorage in Ballandra Bay on Isla Carmen. This island is just 9 miles off of Loreto.

It was a beautiful hike through lots of varying terrain and we ended with a great view of salt flats and an anchorage on the other side.

We're always disappointed at how little wildlife we see on these treks, so we were really surprised when this 5 - 6 foot long snake appeared at the side of the trail! We waited a minute for him to cross, before we continued on......

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We enjoyed a trip to Loreto today, taking a taxi from the marina. He dropped us off by the historic mission then returned at the end of the day, 4 pm, to pick us up and return us to Puerto Escondido.

It was a great trip -- he showed us sights along the way. And the small town was a delight. I'd been there a few years back and it was fun to see what had changed. They're doing a restoration of the historic mission district, so the roads were torn up and a lot of work going on.

We picked up some fresh foods and vegetables at the supermarcado as well as some other small stores in town, and enjoyed a nice lunch at Cafe Ole.

We browsed the touristy shops and looked in every hardware store we passed -- it was a fun day.

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03/20/2010, Puerto Escondido

We finally made it to Puerto Escondido -- the largest protected anchorage in the Sea of Cortez. It's a nearly landlocked body of water and is considered to be a good hurricane hole. There's big plans for the area, but right now it offers a boatyard with travelift, laundry, showers, a tienda and a restaurant.

They've placed over a hundred mooring buoys in the bay and charge about $15 a day to moor and use the facilities and WiFi internet that you can pick up out in the anchorage. Not a bad deal.

Right now there are only about 20 boats in the harbor on the buoys, with another 20 opting for the less expensive outer anchorage areas. In a few weeks it will be filled when the boats flock in for the annual Loreto Fest.

Puerto Escondido's other claim to fame, besides being a safe anchorage, is it's proximity to Loreto. It's 14 miles away, but it's the closest anchorage to safely leave your boat to visit the quaint, historic old town.

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Moving on
03/18/2010, Agua Verde

The north winds died down, so we moved a little farther north -- a whole 7 miles to the popular anchorage of Agua Verde.

When we arrived we were the only boat in the whole bay, because all the boats that had been here, moved on at the change in weather as well. That has been the pattern we've seen, everyone finds an anchorage reported to offer good protection in a north wind, they tuck in and as soon as it blows itself out they continue heading north sort of leapfrogging up the Sea.

Right now there aren't any new northers predicted for several days, so we're able to enjoy some anchorages that don't offer the north protection, and we've chosen a nice spot here in Agua Verde that is a little more secluded than the small nook that boats have to crowd into for the north winds.

We'll probably just spend a one day here doing some hiking and checking out the small tienda in the village, so we can get off to some other anchorages before another north wind comes up.

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Day of the Dolphin
03/14/2010, Bahia Santa Marte

We left Timbabiche yesterday and motored the 15 miles north to Bahia Santa Marte. What little wind there was, was coming from the north, so we decided it would be a good day to make water, and added about 12 gallons of freshly desalinated water to our tanks.

We tucked into this nice little anchorage with plans to sit out the next light norther here, that's predicted for Monday and Tuesday.

We've been enjoying swimming, snorkeling, beachcombing and hiking the area, then today we got a special surprise when a small pod of dolphin came into the anchorage! Terry got in the water, and for the first time since we were in Kealakakua Bay on the Big Island of Hawaii, he swam with the dolphin!

I didn't get a chance to get in the water, as I had a loaf of bread in the oven, but it was great to watch and I think I got a few good pictures.

We had a weird phenomenon today with the VHF radio. Usually reception on it is line of sight, 15 - 20 miles if there's not a lot of big hills around, Well, today we were hearing boats from Marina Palmira as clear as if they were right next to us! We tried talking to them, but the skip was pretty much one way apparently because they could hear us, but just barely and very scratchy.

It was a bit of a domestic day, too. In addition to the bread baking, I did a load of laundry (in the sink) and we went to shore and burned garbage. There's a burn barrel that some fisherman apparently set up at one time. We know it was fisherman because of all the small shark heads thrown around the beach near there! What a weird sight!

Three other boats came in today to wait out the weather, so it's not our secluded little spot anymore.

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Tucked in for a Norther
03/11/2010, Timbabiche

We left San Evaristo yesterday morning to start our trek north. Knowing a Norther was going to begin blowing today, we searched our guidebook for what might be a good spot to sit out the wind and wasn't too far away. We first ducked into Nopolo, only 7 miles north of Evaristo, but the panga fishing fleet from the village appeared to be fishing right in the recommended anchorage area, so we pressed on.

Next stop: Timbabiche. It has a small spit of land that offers protection from the wind generated waves, which are the worst part of any strong wind -- it looked good and we were the only boat there, so we were able to pick what we felt would be the best spot. Last night we had a special treat, when Manuel came out to our boat in his panga and offered to get us lobster for our dinner that night! So off he went and a couple hours later he returned with 5 nice sized lobster. He only wanted 100 pesos (about $8) for the lot of them, so we think it was a pretty good deal -- and a very good meal.

We were able to row to shore this morning for a long beach walk and a hike up a small hill with a good view, before the winds picked up. Almost as soon as we got back on board the wind started gusting to 18 then 20. So far it's a pretty comfortable ride -- even though the wind is howling, there are just small wavelets pushing by the boat. The wind is supposed to be a little stronger tomorrow, so only time will tell if we've made the right choice to ride it out here. There isn't any danger to us, it could just be an uncomfortable rocky anchorage if the large swell from the outside begins to wrap around our little point of protection.

Once this one blows through we'll have a couple days to travel on before t he next Norther is expected.

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We're off to the islands!

We're finally free of the dock and on our way!

After noon today we'll be out of internet and cell range for quite a while and will be back to communicating through our SPOT position reports and our winlink email. I'll do blog posts through the HAM radio, but no pictures until we get internet service again whenever we get up to Loreto.

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I love a parade!
02/17/2010, Carnival in La Paz

One of the best parts of Carnival is the parade!

Lots of brightly colored floats (flatbed semi's) carrying dancers, queens and kings and blaring loud music travel from one end of the waterfront to the next bringing great delight to young and old.

It seems half of the towns population is involved in one form or another, and even the bystanders get pulled into the fun to dance along with the passers by for a moment.

The floats sport signs announcing their sponsors and in addition to the Pacifico Beer, there is LaLa Milk and one of my favorites: Bimbo Bread.

We could tell that Carnival had ended for the year when the music emanating from town was finally silenced about 3 am this morning. Today, Ash Wednesday, signifies the start of Lent, and then the Easter Celebrations will begin on April 4th.

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The Blanket Sellers
02/15/2010, Carnival in La Paz

One of the many fascinating sights of Carnival are the blanket sellers.
This year there are two of these stages where they put together a pile of about 5 blankets, pillows and and large beach towels and appear to be auctioning them off. They talk so fast I'm not really sure if it's an auction or just a good sales pitch and I'm sure they're selling for a very good price. Great entertainment to stand and watch!

I tried to upload a short video of the blanket sellers in action, but had no success, so the best I can offer this picture of the stand. I hope to post some more carnival pictures in the photo gallery today -- so check out the Carnival folder!

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Carnival! in La Paz

Since our arrival in La Paz at the beginning of December, we have been awaiting Carnival! This 6 day extravaganza is quite the event and we had great memories of all the festivities from our visit to this area 10 years ago.

The main street along the waterfront malacon is closed off for blocks and stalls selling jewelry, food, blankets and even hair extensions are set up. There are also rides, for young and old, and stages for bands, singers and crowning of the queen. There will be parades and dancing. It is a good old country fair set up in the middle of town!

We've enjoyed walking through town the past two evenings taking in the sights, sounds and smells -- and are looking forward to getting in to catch a glimpse of the night life when things really get rocking and rolling in town.

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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

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.

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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Port: Gig Harbor, WA
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