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The voyages and travels of the sailing vessel "Hilbre"
Carnival Parade
02/21/2012, La Paz, Mexico

We went to see the Carnival parade last night (Monday 2/20) which takes place during the four days leading up to Shrove Tuesday. It starts from opposite end of the Malecon each night and we picked the night that would offer the best opportunity for taking photographs. The vendors set up stalls along both sides of the Malecon and sell everything including food, clothing, religious items, beer, and even kitchen stuff. The event lasts for four nights with fireworks and other festivities occurring each night.
Everyone was in a good mood, the music was loud; the food smells tempting and many of the stalls rich in color texture and products. Families large and small lined the route with vendors working the crowd before the parade arrived. The parade lasted almost an hour and a half and consisted of at least 30 or more floats and dance groups. Everyone young and old participated in the parade and Hawaiian themes were popular. For a small town like La Paz, it was a great display and clearly many of the floats and costumes had taken time and effort to put together. Our own marina, the Costa Baja, had a float and we recognized the ladies who work in the office.
The Brazilian float had the least amount of costume attire, not surprising but fun for what is a fairly conservative town. The weather was clear and the afternoon wind had calmed down with the light holding up well for photography. There was a good police presence lining the route and they were all in good humor and enjoying the event.
Today, being Shrove Tuesday, it will be the last night of the parade and we plan on going into town for the finale but without the cameras so we can enjoy the fun.
On Thursday, we will be driving over to Puerto San Carlos on the Pacific side of the Baja to do some whale watching. It is supposed to be really good and an opportunity to get up close and personal with the Whales and their calves. It will give us a nice change and an opportunity to see the interior of the Baja Peninsula.

Visit to Marina de La Paz
John Meyer / Sunny

After changing the primary fuel filter and bleeding the engine we still had problems. In the meantime, we had the fuel guy 'Carlos' over on Tuesday to look at our tank and agreed to move the boat to the Marina La Paz on Thursday Morning for a couple of nights so he could clean the fuel tank and filter (polish) the fuel that was in the tank. Wednesday afternoon, 'Luis' arrived and worked with me for a couple of hours to see if we could fix the fuel problem. We checked the entire fuel line system and it turned out to be a partial air lock in the fuel line between the fuel pump and the engine; something that was not cleared even after doing a standard fuel line purge. After we got rid of it, the engine ran and sounded fine.

We motored down to Marina de La Paz from Marina Costa Baja on Thursday morning and both Carlos and Luis came over to work on the boat. Carlos brought his large fuel pump and filter unit which we attached to the fuel tank on Hilbre circulating the fuel at least 8 times as well as cleaning the tank. The fuel was somewhat cloudy so I did pick up some bad fuel either in Turtle Bay or Cabo. So now we have nice clean fuel as well as a clean fuel tank. We also took the opportunity to fix the fuel gauge sender unit which is inside the fuel tank so now we have a working fuel gauge once again. This was not really a problem as I know how much fuel we use in an hour and can figure the remaining fuel in the tank from tracking the engine hours. Still it is nice to have it working and not just sitting on empty which it has done since we were in LA.

Luis also came over and installed a fuel pump by-pass switch which allows us to turn on the fuel pump without turning on the ignition switch and purge the fuel lines without running the engine or using tools to bleed the fuel system. This is especially useful when changing filters as it allows us to fill the filters with fuel using the pump before starting the engine. It is nice to know that there are really good technicians here in La Paz that do good work. Both Carlos and Luis spoke good English and Carlos especially was full of great stories and information.

We arrived back in the Marina Costa Baja this morning and took some pictures on the way back, some of which I will post on the Blog. While we were in the Marina La Paz we connected with a couple (Ralph and Angie) we had met in Ensenada. We had dinner with them on Thursday night at a BBQ place and they took us shopping in their car on Friday so we were able to get lots of groceries and stock up the boat while we had transportation. We also took a walk along the Malecon Thursday evening and many of the vendors were already setting up their stalls ready for Carnival. On Friday night, we could hear the bands along the Malecon from the Marina but not loud enough to be a nuisance. However, the boats anchored out in the bay must get the full brunt of the sound which keeps going until at least 1 or 2 am.

Still, we are happy to be back in our usual marina as the slip we had at the La Paz Marina was affected strongly by the tidal current and wind, so we rocked about quite a bit. It was quite a challenge to get onto the pier against the strong current. On the way into our marina we passed one of the National Geographic Explorer small cruise boats fueling up at the marina dock.

The weather is still delightful, sunny and warm in the high 70's or low 80's. Wind has been light to moderate and we are preparing to head out from La Paz for more exploration of the Sea of Cortez.

Back to La Paz

We left Caleta Lobos about 9:30 a.m. and headed out intending to go to Caleta Partida on Isla Espiritu Santu however just after exiting Lobos we had issues with the engine and quickly raised sail to clear the rocky outcrop of Roca Lobos so we could investigate the problem. Engine checks were made and everything was OK so John put on his mask and dived on the boat in the 70 degree water to check the propeller in case we had picked up some rope/line but everything was clear. As the engine was continuing with issues at anything above 1200 RPM and because we were still close to La Paz we decided to sail back to the Marina to at least have calm water and a dock to work on our problem. Engine fuel filters are the most likely cause; 90% of diesel engine problems are related to bad or dirty fuel.

We had superb sailing back to the Marina in winds of 18-20 knots slightly aft of the beam. The seas were about 2-3 feet but running behind us as we sailed under full main with a shortened Genoa. It gave us a chance to relax, enjoy some fine sailing at over 6 knots. We arrived back in the marina safely and tomorrow will be a day of engine work as all of the diesel fuel filters are checked or replaced.

Caleta Lobos
Sunny with wind
02/08/2012, Caleta Lobos

We left yesterday afternoon for Caleta Lobos which is a short distance to the north of La Paz and even shorter from the Marina we were in. The seven mile trip took a little over an hour and a half and dropping anchor in the northern section of the cove close to an elongated island that forms part of the protection for the cove called Isla Lobos. The entrance is protected by a rock outcrop with a single white light on it called Roca Lobos and you pass to the north or south of this rock to enter the cove. Just south of the cove are some aquaculture pens which are becoming more common in many areas of Mexico. Often poorly lit and marked they require care when sailing close to the coast, especially when entering places like Caleta Lobos.

There were already three boats at anchor in the eastern section of the cove and over the next few hours another three sailboats arrived and dropped anchor. The evening was calm but there was no nice sunset, as cloud cover had set in. We were serenaded by the many birds that live on Isla Lobos where every rock is white from their droppings and as we anchored we noticed a slight smell from this. The birds were especially noisy and along with the Sea Lions bellowing on Roca Lobos, the noise did not quit until it was finally dark.

During the night the wind picked up with gusts to 18 knots along with some local swell which kept us pitching about at anchor but not enough to be a nuisance. At 5:00 a.m. we started getting rain squalls along with thunderstorms which lasted for a couple of hours and was quite spectacular over the bay of La Paz. All morning it rained heavily so we decided to stay at Caleta Lobos until Thursday to see if the weather improves, although the forecast was not too good. However, during the afternoon, the weather cleared and we moved Hilbre to the eastern anchorage which was calmer, quieter and not smelly. We were treated to a fine view of a Sun Dog just as the sun was setting and managed to get some nice pictures of the cove and boats with the Sun Dog in the background.

Of course, it has been glorious, sunny and warm since we arrived back in La Paz, but when we decide to go sailing, the weather goes downhill or so it seems. Such is the cruising experience; you take the good and the bad and make do with it. We seem to be getting more than our fair share of the bad however, we are out sailing again and that is a good thing.

Back in La Paz
02/01/2012, La Paz, Mexico

We arrived back in La Paz on Monday. The weather has been wonderful, low 80's and light wind. We are preping the boat for some local sailing to take advantage of the nice conditions.

Returning to La Paz

We have enjoyed time with the family and friends over Christmas and New Year and it was good to see everyone and share in the Holidays.

We will be returning to La Paz on Monday, January 30th. The current plan is to get the boat ready and stocked for continued cruising, however we want to be in La Paz for Carnival which occurs from February 16 to 21. We hear it is a great time to be in La Paz. See WEB Link on the sidebar "Favorites" for more information.

This means we will probably do some short overnight trips or day sails during the week of February 5th., and be back in La Paz for Carnival. Our plan is to head off after Carnival to Espiritu Santo (Partida), Caleta San Evaristo, Puerto Los Gatos, Isla San Francisco, Balandra and back to La Paz. That should take about 7-9 days. We will then stock up for the trip to the Mexican mainland, not sure yet if we will go to Mazatlan or directly to Puerto Vallarta.

Our plan is to push on south very quickly to Tenacatitta and Barra and hang then out there for a while. Not sure if we will go to Manzanillo but that is about as far south as we will get this season. We will then head slowly up to Mazatlan from the south as the weather warms up. We still plan on bringing Hilbre back to the US leaving La Paz/Cabo around May 1-5 which gives us a good amount of time to get back to either Long Beach or Ensenada. We are tempted to leave the boat at Marina Corral in Ensenada for June and July while we decide what to do next, such is retirement, everything is flexible.

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