04/10/2012, San Carlos
We arrived in San Carlos about 8:00 am this morning and are at a slip in the Marina San Carlos. Next task is to firm up the date for plaving Hilbre into storage for the summer and scheduling the arrangements for returning home. We have covered over 1,500 nautical miles since October. The last leg across the Sea of Cortez from Santa Rosalia was like sailing on a Mill Pond; the sea was just like a mirror with just a gentle breeze to push us along.
Saturday, 7 April 2012
We have been here a few days and quite like this small Mexican working town. It is not a tourist spot and everyone is friendly and helpful. It was founded after copper was discovered in the area in the late 1860's. Originally, it was a small Mexican operation however the French became interested and finally took over all the small claims in 1885 creating Compagnie du Boleo. The port was created with blocks of slag from the mining process. Because of this, the town has a somewhat French atmosphere and is very different from the other towns on the Baja peninsula. The Boleo Company closed in 1954 and it became a Mexican operation. Finally, in 1986 the plant was closed however with to the increase in the price of copper, there is a move to reopen the mine.
The Iglesia Santa Barbara church is made of steel and was originally in Brussels. The Boleo Company bought it, disassembled it and moved it to Santa Rosalia then re-assembled it in 1897 and where it is still in use today. The church was designed by Gustav Eiffel.
This morning, we had a nice breakfast at the Hotel Frances which is a restored two story wood hotel dating from 1886. This is situated on top of one of the two hills above Santa Rosalia which sits in the valley between them. The local museum is close to the hotel as are many of the steam engines and rolling stock used at the mine. There are the usual slag heaps outside of town and left-over mining equipment which makes the area just that more interesting.
It is easy to walk into town and there are just two narrow main streets, along which most of the stores are located. The port is also the ferry stop for the small car ferry which does a regular trip every other day to mainland Mexico. The ferry docks on the pier next to us and it is interesting to watch them come and go. There is a nice French bakery in town so we get nice fresh baguettes and there are enough grocery stores for us to get the few supplies we need. We do have a quantity of canned goods that we still need to use before we leave the boat in San Carlos. Along with some other sail-boats, we are participating in a Potluck on the dock tomorrow. Many of the sailboats visiting here are headed to San Carlos for summer storage. We believe the weather will be favorable on either Monday or Tuesday for the overnight sail to San Carlos.
04/04/2012, Santa Rosalia
Wednesday, 4 April 2012
We left Puerto Viejo at 7:00 am and backtracked south to round the reef that extends from San Marcos to Roca Lobos passing over a small extension southeast of the Rock that put us in 14 feet of water for a short time. After this we turned west into the Craig Channel between Isla San Marcos and the Baja Peninsula. Once out of the channel, we could see the dust hanging over the mining area of San Marcos.
Just after 10:00 am, we pulled into the small harbor at Santa Rosalia near the Car Ferry dock to Guaymas and were directed to a slip at the Fonatur Marina. It is the first time we have power and water hook-ups to the boat in over a month. It is nice to be securely tied up to a dock for a change and in a location where it is easy to walk into town. The Marina is all new and has an identical layout to the one in Puerto Escondido, so we feel quite at home.
04/03/2012, Puerto Viejo (Isla San Marcos)
Tuesday, 3 April 2012
As the heavy winds did not materialize and the highest gust on Monday was about 24 knots, we decided to leave and head further north to Puerto Viejo on Isla San Marcos. We left at 8:50 am and headed north back up Conception Bay. Just as we left the bay, we were greeted with large pods of Dolphins that appeared to be fishing in groups. With calm seas and little wind we continued north past the Santa Inez islands where we began to pick up a nice breeze of 12 knots. As we turned to the northwest after the Santa Inez Islands we were treated to some of the best sailing we have had since leaving Cabo. We romped along at just over 7 knots for almost two hours until we were blanketed by the lee of Isla San Marcos.
We turned north just before the Roca Lobos on the southern side of San Marcos and arrived in the Puerto Viejo anchorage at about 2:30 pm putting the anchor down in 12 feet of water just off the cliffs. We had good protection from the waves and wind and therefore had a quiet night.
Isla San Marcos is mined heavily for Gypsum and there is a processing plant on the Island. The guidebook warns you of potential dust in strong northern winds however we had none of these problems. There were a few guys camped out on a small beach and in the evening they went out in a Panga to fish.
03/30/2012, Coyote Bay (Santispac Cove)
Friday, 30 March 2012
We left San Juanico at 4:10 am and threaded our way out of the cove and between the rocks in pitch darkness using our chart plotter and Radar. The chart plotter map of the cove was a figment of someone's imagination as it showed islands where there were none and was wildly inaccurate. In fact, we had sailed through one of these imaginary islands on the way into the cove! Fortunately, during our arrival, we had recorded and plotted our route into the cove and we used this with Radar to retrace our way out to the open sea. Once we were clear of San Juanico, we set course for Punta Pulpito, a very large, tall, round rock; a prominent landmark along this part of the coast and about two hours away.
With calm seas and no wind, we were once again motoring at just over five and a half knots and at sunrise we were just off Punta Pulpito. It continued to be a warm, windless day with a glassy sea as we continued north. While crossing St. Nicolas Bay we were treated to two large Blue Whales who were sounding. There is a steep underwater canyon in this area and this is where they were probably feeding. Anita saw them first and they made a great display as they splashed back into the sea it was quite a sight to behold, even if we were quite a distance from them. We believe they were Blue Whales just from the size of their Flippers which they swished through the air as they lay on the surface.
We finally rounded the headland leading into Conception Bay at noon turning into the actual bay about 45 minutes later. As we had picked up some wind, we managed to sail for about an hour into the bay before the hills on either side blanketed the welcome breeze.
At 2:30 pm., we anchored off Santispac cove in the area generally called Coyote cove on the north side of the bay and about 200 yards off the beach with lots of campers. There were already a number of other boats in the cove and sailing into Conception bay, we had shared our trip with two other sailboats also headed to the same cove. Coyote Cove actually consists of a number of individual coves and beaches, many protected by small islands all with their own anchorages. Santispac being the best known of all the coves is also owned by the Indians so there are no houses on the beach which is why it is 'the' hot spot to camp. It is quite a pretty area.
The afternoon was still and hot, over 90 degrees. We no sooner anchored than we were invaded by lots of pesky flies so we had to close up the main companion way and open all the hatches with screens. Fortunately, all of our hatches have screens; surprisingly, the interior of the boat remained quite cool. While we were doing this, our electronic barometer issued a gale warning! A quick check of the barometric pressure indicated that it had dropped over three millibars in the last hour and was still going down.
Sure enough, about 3:30 pm we had sudden sustained winds of 20 knots out of the north that escalated to gusts over 30 knots. This lasted for almost two hours during which time, one of the 36' sailboats in the bay dragged anchor and began sailing itself out of the bay. Fortunately, it did not entangle other boat anchor lines during its progress. It had moved more than a quarter of a mile before the owners, who were ashore, managed to get to the boat and rescue it. When they did finally get back to the anchorage, they put out two anchors for added security.
There are clumps of weed in the bay and we had to anchor twice as the first time the anchor did not hold to our satisfaction. While we did drag a little way during the squall, about 40 feet, some of this was normal anchor stretch. As soon as things calmed down, we added 40 lbs of weight (Sentinel ) to the eye thimble between the anchor chain and anchor rode. This dampens the movement of the entire anchor line, adds springs to line and helps keep the anchor at a better angle to the seabed for holding. We have not moved since and have been sitting out some good wind gusts.
At least all of this wind got rid of the flies and after 6:00 pm, things became quite calm.
Saturday, 31 March 2012
It was a quiet night and this morning, we took the dingy over to our friends Allan and Ann-Marie who had been anchored at Santispac for a number of days. While catching up on the news and discussing the weather a lady who has a small camper and lives on the beach in the winter arrived. Cathy is 76 and had just swum the 200 yards from the beach to the boat. Cathy lives in Ontario, Canada and for the last three years each November has made the trip with her car and trailer to Santispac cove by herself. Before that, she had traveled to mainland Mexico and as far south as Belize, all on her own. She was quite full of good stories.
During the afternoon a strong breeze of 18-22 Knots began just after 1:00 pm and lasted through 5:30 pm when things calmed down again. This was just in time for us to head to shore and the beach cantina called 'Lupes.' The guidebook referred to it as 'Anna's' but now Lupe owns it. We shared a table and Mexican feast with very strong Margaritas with Allan, Ann-Marie and Cathy who was preparing to head back to Canada the next day. She wanted to leave the beach and begin her trek home before the Mexican Easter, when many people descend upon Santispac and camp for the entire week. Indeed as we look out at the beach each morning, there are more and more campers lined along the sandy beach and we are serenaded with Mexican music and glow from the campfires at night.
Lupe's is the beach Cantina hangout on Saturday nights for the Gringos and is complete with disco, a DJ and oldies music. There were only a few cruisers there, but the food was good, as was the company and the very strong Margaritas.
Sunday, 1 April 2012
Another nice quiet night and a good night's sleep after the Margaritas found us planning our next activity however there is yet another northerner forecast for Monday and Tuesday so we stayed on the boat and rigged our Banner Blue Anchor/Riding Sail during the morning for the first time. We had purchased this for the cruise on the assumption it would reduce our swing while anchored and had not had an opportunity to rig it and try it out.
In strong winds we discovered we swing anywhere from 60-100 degrees as the boat catches the gusts. This can be hard on the anchor and while we do not sail up to the anchor and then fall off, essentially sailing a figure of eight as some boats do, we had no opportunity of testing Hilbre prior to the trip. After rigging the sail the afternoon winds started blowing in the high teens and low twenties. During this time we did notice the riding sail kept our bow more into the wind and reduced the swing radius to 30 or 40 degrees; a nice improvement. However, as we have in-mast furling, there are no aft halyards so we have to swing either the spare Jib or Spinnaker halyard aft to hold the top of the riding sail. This pulls the halyard over the upper wire shroud (rigging) and could cause the line to chafe through. So, until we have figured out a better way to rig the top of the sail, we have put it away in its bag. At least we know it does work and is now ready to deploy.
It seems we are blessed with strong winds in this anchorage every afternoon and some of the boats have moved position or moved to another cove to try and get some relief. However the wind seems to die off at sunset and as we are holding nicely, we are staying put. The beach is getting more crowded and we are being tested by power boats and PWC's that are zooming around the anchorage and between the boats causing lots of wake.
Monday, 2 April 2012
We had expected the 'Northerner' to kick in overnight but nothing happened, so we had a good night's rest. This morning, the wind reached into the low twenties but nothing like the 30 plus knots that was forecast. We are keeping our fingers crossed that this is a mild one and that it will blow itself out by late Tuesday as we would like to move on toward Santa Rosalia on Wednesday.
Even with the wind, the sun is out and quite warm so it is really quite a nice day and the wind is keeping the powerboats, flies and PWC's ashore.
03/28/2012, Caleta San Juanico
Wednesday, 28 March 2012
We left the southern anchorage of Coronados Island at 5:30 a.m. with no wind and calm seas. We headed back through the Coronados channel and north to San Juanico. We were treated to sunrise behind Coronados and what a difference 24 hours can make, no wind and absolutely flat sea with the very slightest of a long swell. By 8:30 we had passed the Mangles point and just before 10 am we were already anchored in Caleta San Juanico at the head of a bay. There were three other boats already there, one of which left just after we had anchored.
This is a delightful anchorage, with its nice beaches and various coves. With an improvement in the weather it was nice to relax and forget the bashing we had taken trying to reach here the day before. I put on the wet suit and took a look at the prop as we did have some vibration while motoring from Coronados. After I had cleaned the large clump of seaweed that had attached itself to the prop-shaft just in front of the strut and propeller, we both took sun showers and cleaned up the boat.
During our trip home in December, we had purchased a set of boat wheels for the dingy. Later, we took out the tools and drill and after hoisting the dingy up from the deck with a halyard we attached the brackets for the wheel arms to the transom. During the afternoon, three other sailboats arrived and anchored in the bay. For dinner, we had a bottle of wine and the grilled steak we had purchased at the Dali meat store in Loreto; all while watching the setting sun.
Thursday, 29 March 2012
It was a calm night with a very gentle breeze and once the moon had set, it was a very dark sky with lots of stars and a shining Milky Way. In the morning, we launched the dingy, attached the outboard and new wheels and went ashore to do some exploring. What a difference the dingy wheels made to landing the dingy on the shore and pulling it up above the high water mark. Almost no effort and a stark contrast to when we tried this at Los Frailes where we both struggled to drag the 120 lbs over the sand to get it above the tide line. We discovered that launching from the beach was even easier. Just lift the bow and it rolls down the beach to the water by itself. Oh what a wonderful purchase!
Caleta San Juanico is a wonderful area to explore with lots of trails, sand beaches for swimming and coves to snorkel in. A couple of houses are up on the cliffs above the cove, otherwise the area is deserted except for some beach campers. We headed off on one of the trails to see if we could find some 'Apache Tears' or Obsidian for which this area is known. While we were unsuccessful at finding Obsidian, we did discover the 'Cruisers Tree' on the beach where we added a shell with Hilbre's name to the collection of artifacts that have been left by various boaters over the years. There are lots of nice shells and rocks to choose from. Many of the rocks have nice markings and colors and there are lots of shells embedded in the shale along the shoreline.
In the afternoon, we took the dingy for a longer ride along the cliffs, to another bay called 'False Bay' where a Mexican fisherman was just hauling in his nets and catch of leaping fish; it looked like a nice haul. The area is very photogenic and we took many pictures to record our stay here. If and when we come back, we plan to stay much longer as it is such a nice area.
Later in the day two more sailboats arrived, one an older Catalina 36, the first C36 we had seen since Cabo. It arrived with another smaller sailboat. Both boats were travelling together the smaller one anchored in the bay behind us and the C36 just off to our port. The skippers were alone but not so a small boat from Anchorage, Alaska that had arrived the day before. He had picked up three young women in La Paz who were cycling around the Baja. They had stored the bicycles on the boat and sailed with him from La Paz and were headed later that day to San Carlos on an overnight passage. We had met them on the beach and the skipper was very happy with the arrangement as he had not had to cook a meal in weeks.
We took in the dingy before nightfall as we planned on an early start for the 54 mile trip up the coast to Conception Bay.