We left La Paz two weeks ago continuing our way north in the Sea of Cortez for the rest of the summer. Along the way, we anchored at a few favorite spots including: Caleta Partida, Isla San Francisco, and Agua Verde, landing in Puerto Escondido four days later.
Cool animal sighting of the day:
a humpback whale swimming off of Isla San Francisco!
Our route and anchorages were dictated by thunderstorms in the area, spinning off of hurricane Kay which was "moving harmlessly out to sea" but still spitting off zingers sending lots of thunder and lightening to lower Baja.
For you non-sailors, thunderstorms are one of the most dangerous phenomena that sailboats can find themselves in, as the mast can act like a lightening rod, which can blow out all your electronics and even sink your boat. No bueno! Our goal was to avoid them at all costs and though we could see sheet lightening in the evenings in the distance, we made it to Puerto Escondido unscathed.
Sierra Gigante (Ee-gantay) mountain range never ceases to amaze. It changes colors throughout the day depending on lighting, from red at sunrise, to green mid-day, to purple at sunset.
Puerto Escondido is considered to be one of the best hurricane holes around due to its geography and sheltering Sierra Gigantes. We hung out for a week on our friend Lisa's buoy in the Waiting Room (THANKS Lisa! ;-) to check the internet weather--September is the busiest time for hurricanes in Baja and we can't get internet WX info while underway, only text emails. BIG THANKS to JPJ for sending us WX updates via email, we SO MUCH appreciate it! We also needed to repair the windlass (AGAIN!?) do laundry, provision with fresh produce from Loreto, and PLAY!!
As you can see from our video above, we got very lucky in the PLAY department. Via the SSB and VHF radios we heard that two whale sharks had been hanging around inside of Hidden Harbor, Puerto Escondido. So we donned our snorkel gear and headed in to find them.
We picked up two new German friends snorkeling en-route, Mark & Julia who were camping at PE. Kirk graciously stayed with the dinghy and was our spotter and chase boat while the three of us dove in and swam to catch up with the feeding whale sharks...Heidi was eager to use our new GoPro to capture the action. As this is our FIRST GoPro video and the visibility was not that great, please pardon the bouncy ride!
The whale shark in our video was a juvenile, approximately 15' long and was accompanied by a remora (sucker-fish) stuck to its head, and a school of juvenile sergeant majors swimming around it's mouth looking for scraps.
Whale Sharks are the largest fish in the sea (growing up to 40+ feet long), and these docile creatures with a 5-foot wide mouth are filter feeders. If you're lucky enough to swim with a Whale Shark, be sure to keep clear of it's massive tail, and stay along its side don't swim in front if it, they don't like that. Also human touch can harm their skin so please don't touch. We feel SO grateful and honored that they let us swim with them.
Another HUGE THANKS to new friends George & Ruth on s/v Sea Flea
who not only gave us a ride into Loreto for groceries and to find a couple of obscure parts, but George being a small engine mechanic by trade, was able to help Kirk repair our windlass too. Sadly Victor, the "repair-guy" in La Paz who supposedly fixed our windlass the first time, made a lot of shortcuts that caused more issues in the end.
Our route from Puerto Escondido to Bahia Marquer to Nopolo Norte and back to PE.
Provisioning, chores, and laundry all done, we headed out from Puerto Escondido along with our friends Boni & John on s/v Ingenium
, to Bahia Marquer on Isla Carmen, a quick one-hour sail away. Marquer is renowned for its excellent snorkeling and visibility. Unfortunately there were a LOT of bees looking for fresh drinking water, so many that we had to keep our boat closed up and stay inside all day and poor Tosh still got stung. No bueno! We did hear whales breathing near by in the night though, that was cool!
So we all decided to weigh anchor and head for Nopolo Norte, just south of Loreto, where there is free wifi from the Hotel Loreto Bay ~ hence the chance to post this post! Thank you Hotel Loreto Bay!
Cool animal sighting of the day:
On the way over from Marquer to Nopolo, we saw a Fin Whale moving south. Then just as we anchored in Nopolo Norte we heard and saw another whale (unidentified species), right in front of s/v Ingenium
who was headed in behind us. The whales are definitely out and about, so we're keeping a keen eye out for our safety as well as theirs. As the new British Columbia slogan says: "See a blow? Go slow!"
As luck would have it being September in the Sea of Cortez, there is another potential Tropical Storm/Hurricane headed our way. So we're all headed back to the safety of Puerto Escondido's Hurricane Hole by Monday to batten the hatches as necessary and ride out the storm. Even if it's not a major storm, it is still forecast to bring a LOT of rain with it.
The rain will be good for the surrounding vegetation, cattle and goats, not to mention giving Due West a much needed bath (the Sea of Cortez is very SALTY and DUSTY.) Hopefully it will also give the bees their fill of water and keep them at bay as we continue north again next week.
Sending good vibes to the WX gods and hoping this next tropical event does not pan out.
P.S. For those of you with an SSB/HAM Radio, we have volunteered to take on Net Control of the Amigo Net on Wednesdays starting this week, Sept. 7 at 14:10 UTC (7:10am PAC/8:10AM MTN) on frequency 4.149.0. The Amigo Net is a public service radio roll-call for all boaters in the Baja and Pacific Mexico area to check in for emergency/medical issues, weather, and social communications. Tune in on Wednesday mornings to join the Amigo Net, even if you are on land.