05/03/2012, San Evaristo
Once again, weather has dictated our course of travel. Last night, we experienced a Corumel (a strong wind out of the west in the Sea during nighttime, not unlike but not as drastic as a Chinook). Then, we listened to the weather report this morning, and winds were predicted to be in the 20 knot range all day in the direction we wanted to travel-NW, so it called for a reconsideration of our intention to continue our travels northward. We also decided to abandon our plan for the dinghy trip up the lagoon due to tides, it being low tide this morning and a very shallow entrance into the lagoon. Our first leg of travel was by motor across the bay that we were in. We briefly anchored for long enough to prepare the boat (store the dinghy and motor) for a westerly crossing to a safe harbor in these kinds of winds-San Evaristo. True to the forecast, the winds were blowing in the 20 knot range directly down the channel separating the Baja from Isla San Jose and continued to blow throughout the day. We had anchored here on our last trip up this coast from La Paz, so we were familiar with it. Other than the "minisuper" market and a tiny restaurant (if you can call it that) by reservation only (they only open if people are coming and prepare a single meal for the customers for that day), there really is not much to do at this location other than enjoy our time on the boat. However, we were treated to a show by a whale that was flicking his tail and spouting about a half dozen times just outside the north point of the cove while we were at anchor. We also thought better than leaving the boat and taking the dinghy ashore when we watched one of the boats in the anchorage break free and begin to drift south toward the other side of the cove while they had gone ashore in their dinghy. Fortunately, one of the other boats saw this happening and sounded the danger signal (5 blasts of the horn) to let the people onshore know of the situation. They quickly returned to their boat just as it was nearly half way across the cove and re-set their anchor in hopefully a better location-There were strong gusts of wind coming over the top of the hills at the north end of the cove where we were also anchored. We will await a break in the winds before continuing our travels north, which may be tomorrow or not until the weekend-only time will tell.
|Sea of Cortez||
05/03/2012, Bahia Amortajada
Wednesday was Andy's birthday, and he said that it was one of the best ever. It started with a nice omelet for breakfast, and then it was off to our next overnight stop but not first without Debra's first birthday present-A buzz cut using the electric hair trimmer that Andy had purchased earlier for just such an event. Debra had been somewhat concerned about undertaking such a task, but she did a beautiful job, and Andy feels great now that his hair has been properly prepped for the anticipated and continuing 90+ degree weather. We then took a detour to Isla Coyote which is a tiny island with a major fishing village. We sailed around the northern end of Isla San Francisco and quickly crossed the 2 or so miles to the anchorage at the fishing village. After finding a proper place to anchor in about 25 feet of water, we launched the kayak and paddled the short distance to the village where the fishermen were working on their daily catch. They were amazingly friendly, and Andy was able to communicate sufficiently in Spanish to find a quite large Pargo (Snapper) which we quickly purchased for Andy's birthday dinner. The women at the village were also noted for their assorted jewelry, and we could not go away without purchasing a few items including a shark's tooth necklace which was Andy's second birthday present. After re-loading the kayak aboard Murar's Dream, it was time to head an additional few miles to Bahia Amortajada at the southern tip of Isla San Jose, one of the larger islands in the Sea of Cortez. This anchorage is noted for a dinghy trip into a lagoon at the southern tip of the island which will be one of the trips planned for Thursday before moving to a new anchorage farther north as we work our way to Puerto Escondito and Loretofest, an annual gathering of cruisers for three days of partying and activities. We decided to launch the dinghy and head to shore for an afternoon hike along the beach while we searched for seashells to take back to the grandkids. We then took the dinghy around an offlying island which was a bird sanctuary before returning to the boat. We relaxed onboard for the remainder of the afternoon, partaking in Pina Coladas before Andy prepped the fish for grilling whole on the barbeque. The first procedure was to filet off one half of the fish which was far too big for both of us to consume at one meal. He then proceeded to scale the fish, which was not easy without a fish scaler, but he managed to accomplish the task, creating quite a mess of fish scales which took some effort to clean from the boat. The fish was so large that it took 30 minutes to cook it, and it was the best fish that we have eaten, to date. We ate, as usual, in the cockpit and enjoyed a beautiful sunset over the Sierra de la Gigantas Mountains on the Baja Peninsula even though it was pretty much overcast all day, a Pineapple Express (cloudy area of weather from the region around Hawaii) having moved into the Sea. Dessert was Andy's favorite-key lime pie which Debra cooked using the Joe's Stone Crab recipe. The oven was not very cooperative, and what would otherwise have taken 10 minutes of cooking to harden the filling, took over 30 minutes before the filling sufficiently hardened. Nevertheless, it tasted just as good as ever. It was then off to bed for another pleasant night of sleep on a perfectly calm, almost glass-like sea.
|Sea of Cortez||
05/03/2012, Isla San Francisco
Saturday was our day for final preparations for our crossing of the Sea of Cortez back to the Baja side. It was hard to believe that we had spent the last five months on the Mexican Mainland. As usual, the weather report was about to change our timing for the crossing. The weather reports earlier in the week had predicted Sunday as the best day for crossing with possible WSW winds rather than the prevailing NW winds we would otherwise be facing on our nose as we headed directly into the wind to our desired destination on the Baja side. However, the Saturday morning report changed everything with predicted 15-20 knot winds out of the NW starting Sunday afternoon. With almost a two day crossing, it would mean pounding our way under motor, something that neither of us was looking forward to, so we decided to accelerate our departure for Saturday afternoon. Because low tide was scheduled for 3PM and after our last experience hitting bottom as we left the channel, we put off departure for 5PM, but it accelerated our final provisioning time. Andy's first trip was to Sorianna for a haircut while Debra stayed behind. Unfortunately, there was no hair cutting salon at the Sorianna like the one I had found in PV. We then both took a taxi to the local fruit and vegetable stand we had earlier found for the balance of our fresh veggies. We first stopped at the juice stand that we had found on Thursday and one of the local carne asada stands for a quick lunch. Debra then grabbed a whole chicken from the pollo asada stand for future lunches onboard. After returning to the boat, we made final preparations for departure as we awaited the 5PM time to depart. We pulled away from the dock right on time and were on our way without bottoming as we crossed the bar at the end of the channel and entered open water. We had decided to let the wind direction dictate our course, and there was enough breeze to sail for the first 5 hours, but we had to sail more south than we would have preferred-We were heading straight for Cabo San Lucas, not our ideal landing spot. However, when the wind finally died at about 10PM, we started up the motor and headed in the direction that we wanted to go-Isla San Francisco. By the time that the sun rose the following morning, it was like sailing on a calm lake with virtually no wind, but as the afternoon arrived, we were able to sneak in a few hours of pure sailing before the winds disappeared for the evening. When it was time for Debra's watch from midnight to 3AM, we considered setting sail with winds in the 8-9 knot range, but we decided to continue motoring, which was a good thing. About one hour later, we were in 14-18 knot winds which continued into Andy's watch at 3AM. However, by 3:30, the winds calmed down to the 8-9 knot range at a good angle, so the engine was killed and the sails set for the remainder of our journey.
We arrived at 8:30AM in the cove at Isla San Francisco, just where we had visited before crossing to the mainland way back in early December. The crystal clear water was quite a change from the murky waters we had experienced everywhere on the mainland side, and we could see the bottom clearly, well past 30 feet. We set anchor and prepared a breakfast of french toast with real maple syrup that we finally found in a grocery store in Paradise Village. We then caught up on sleep even though, for the first time, we were each able to sleep through our 3 hour non-watch periods. We noticed that the boat next to us was Seychelles, a boat which had shared Christmas Eve with us in La Cruz, so it was great to see them and catch up. You just never know who you will run into again after making cruising friends. This was the first day that we both felt like we were on "Manana time," basically sitting aboard and enjoying the scenery and weather. It was quite warm, about 90 degrees, but there was a breeze coming though which made it quite tolerable. We finished the day with Andy swimming ashore for a bit of exercise before it was time to prepare dinner. After dinner, we managed to watch a movie, the Big Fish, a movie that we had never heard about but both enjoyed.
Tuesday brought another day of good weather, and we launched the kayak for a hike ashore. Our first try was to continue on the trail that we had followed on our last visit, but only after about 100 yards, it became steep and almost impassable, so we decided to backtrack over the trail we had earlier followed and again visited the high ridge overlooking the cove. After returning to the boat, Andy felt that we should move our anchoring spot to the other side of the island for a new experience. The winds were perfect, so we sailed the two miles it took to round the tip of this small island and reach the new anchoring location. Seychelles decided that they, too, would come over to the new anchorage, so we were again anchored right next to them. We spent the rest of the day on "Manana time" before finishing the day with some pork fried rice and a game of cribbage before calling it a day.
|Sea of Cortez||
Our trip back to Mazatlan via bus on Tuesday was, by far, the nicest bus ride yet. TAP first class buses really live up to their name-reclining seats, movies, headphone music, 110V power, and, best of all, wireless internet! Hence, we were able to occupy the six hour bus ride by checking and sending emails and surfing the net. The only drawback was that the bus was about an hour late in leaving, so we had to sit in the Los Mochis bus station for almost 2 hours before leaving. We arrived in Mazatlan at 4PM and, after rejecting the overcharging taxis inside the terminal, we flagged down one of the open air taxis which are converted, old Volkswagen beetle chassis. We were promptly delivered back to the boatyard and were back aboard Murar's Dream for a night "on the hard," as we were scheduled to be placed back in the water the following morning. Total Yacht Works had done very nice work but had forgotten to have the boat washed, polished and waxed, so they would have to do that after the boat was back in its slip at El Cid Marina on the following days, as this is about a 2 day process. Before turning in, we enjoyed a very nice dinner aboard Double Diamond and were joined by our friends from Glory Days who were also "on the hard."
Upon arising Wednesday morning, it was time for the boat to be moved back into the water. This process consists of a large machine which hangs straps under the hull, lifting and lowering the boat, as needed. We had actually spent the night in the slings as they had to lift the boat to apply the final paint to the bottom of the keel which had been resting on the ground while in drydock. The machine is set on four extremely large wheels/tires and is moved around by remote control at extremely low speeds. After the boat was safely back in the water, we contacted El Cid Marina to get our slip assignment and experienced our first delay-Fog had rolled in overnight so that the channel out of the harbor had been officially closed by the port captain. The boat which had been occupying the slip to which we were assigned therefore could not leave, so it meant waiting out the delay until the fog lifted and the channel was re-opened. After about an hour or so of sunshine, they finally cleared our slip, and we moved into our "home" for the next several days as we prepared the boat for our trip across the Sea of Cortez to the Baja side. This proved to be a relatively uneventful day, unworthy of blogging data.
Thursday began with a bike ride. We first rode over to Total Yacht Works, about a ½ mile away, to take care of our outstanding bill, and then we rode north on the road paralleling the shore for a few miles. We then turned around and headed south towards town to look for the fresh vegetable stand that Double Diamond had told us that they had earlier discovered. A few miles later, we found it and picked up a few items to tie us over until we leave on Sunday. We also found a juice stand next door where we were greeted by its very friendly owner who insisted on speaking English since he was going to language school. His English was very good considering that he had only been taking classes for only 9 weeks. We both enjoyed fruit smoothies while we enjoyed conversing with him. After returning to El Cid, we lunched at El Fish Market, clearly one of our favorite Mazatlan restaurants. The remaining afternoon consisted of a swim at the resort pool for some additional exercise before checking out a new, recommended restaurant, Ernie's, within walking distance of the marina. Unfortunately, we were both disappointed with the quality of the food, so we are striking that one from our list.
We awoke Friday in the deepest fog bank that we have experienced in Mexico so far. It was a bit of deja vu, reminding us of June Gloom and Fogaust we had experienced last summer in Marina del Rey. The workers arrived later that morning from Total Yacht Works to finish the washing and waxing, having spent all day Thursday working on the hull which is now quite beautiful. They spent the day working on the decks and cockpit, finishing in the afternoon. Our projects were to do laundry and prepare the interior for a thorough cleaning by Norma from the marina, who had cleaned the boat on our last visit to Mazatlan and whom we both felt did a very good job.
04/17/2012, Los Mochis
Monday was the start of our journey back to Murar's Dream but not without one last chance to enjoy the magnificense of this amazing region of Mexico. We used the morning to re-trace a portion of our hike yesterday without the skillful guidance of Gustavo. The views as we walked along the rim of the barranca (canyon), were just as spectacular in the morning light as what we had experienced the previous afternoon. We took one detour to see the other hotel on the rim and acquired a companion for a portion of the rest of our hike-a dog that decided to adopt us as she trailed us for awhile. At one point we sat on an overlook just above one of the Tarahumara homes lower in the canyon where we observed a young man standing just outside. Debra took it upon herself to wave at him, and he reciprocated. Before long, he joined us on the rocks but not before our companion got protective of us with a brief growl before she realized that he was not a threat. With his and my limited Spanish since it was not his native language either, we managed to strike up a reasonable conversation. When we finally decided to continue our hike, I offered him some money which he gladly accepted but not with saying: "Otro mas pequeno?" I conceded to his request and gave him a little more than first offered. We continued the hike and with a good sense of direction, we were able to find our way back to the hotel despite the fact that the area was intertwined with numerous intersecting trails. After showers to wash off the dust, it was time for Gustavo to pick us up and take us to the train station. True to form, the train was about 45 minutes late since it included several second class cars which meant more intermediate stops than the first class train which does not run on Mondays. After almost 8 hours we finally arrived in Los Mochis for our overnight stay before catching the bus back to Mazatlan on Tuesday morning.
|Mexico Inland Trips||
04/17/2012, Barranca de Cobre
Sunday morning began with a trip to the zipline over the canyon. It consisted of 7 different runs, the longest being over 2000 feet, far above the canyon floor, as well as 3 suspension bridges. It was nothing less than spectacular and exhilarating. The views from the various stations and lines was beyond words and something that will probably not be captured in photos, even though we tried. It put the Manzanillo zipline to shame, and we are now totally spoiled with no desire to try another zipline unless it might better this experience. If you ever come to the Copper Canyon, it is well worth the 600 pesos (about $50). After this adventure, it was off to the Divisidero train station for gorditas (stuffed tortilla sandwiches much like pita pockets). There were about 10 different vendors offering regular, blue or chili flavored pockets with various choices of stuffings. Gustavo told us to just pick out one stand because he did not want to show any favorites or offend the others. Lo and behold, we chose a stand manned by one his nieces, not that the odds were not stacked that we would choose someone like this, as Gustavo then revealed that about half of the vendors were his relatives! The gorditas were quite tasty, so we decided to skip lunch at the hotel on Monday in lieu of more gorditas before catching the train back to Los Mochis in the early afternoon. We learned that Monday will probably be a second class train so that we will not get to Los Mochis until late Monday night. After lunch, it was off for our extended hike along the rim of the canyon. Following numerous Tarahumara trails, we had the opportunity to get a close up view of several cave dwellings. At one place we walked out to the end of a promontory with sheer dropoffs where we came across a Tarahumara just sitting and contemplating the beautiful view. After almost 4 hours of hiking, we stopped by Gustavo's home and met his wife and youngest son, neither of which spoke a word of English. This was one of the few times that we have been forced to communicate in Spanish in this Spanish speaking country, and it was a rewarding experience. After Gustavo brought us back to the hotel, the three of us shared drinks in the bar while we shared parting words although Gustavo offered to take us to the train station tomorrow, a generous offer which we gladly accepted. After another mediocre dinner at the hotel, It was back to the room for a night of reading and a good night's sleep.
|Mexico Inland Trips||