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South Pacific Tour/Demelza
Landfall Isla Isabela
01/22/2010

Sun rose over the mainland and Isla Isabela, whales breached all around and sea birds circled and dove for their food. You just had to be there!

Copper canyon
Nov-Dec 09
11/20/2009

Small boats take you so many more places than watery passages. We were driving to Mexico and the Copper Canyon with truck and camper. We had purchased a life raft in Vancouver in the summer of 09. You can`t fly a life raft; explosive goods. Sounds great anyway. Five days of driving took us through the States, visiting Bryce Canyon and friends along the way, and into San Carlos. Demelza had been through Hurricane Jimena in Aug giving some tense times moments and feeling so helpless and distant. Marina Seca had done a wonderful job of communicating and looking after the 200 or more boats in storage. Hurricanes are not supposed to come that far north in the sea. The area and yard was devastated by the flooding so what would we find on board? Everything was fine. High water mark from the river that swept through the yard was 3ft up the keel. Another foot or two and all those boats would have been swept into a massive pile of broken fiberglass and aluminum. After cleaning her up and showing her some love for 3 days we continued south on our rubber tired adventure towards Creel; the gateway to the famed Barranca del Cobre and 1 1/2 days drive farther south. We were to meet Gordon and Nancy in Creel. They flew to La Pas then ferried to Los Mochis where they got on the scenic train ride that brought them up through the canyon to Creel. This Albertan camper and van making it`s way through the crowded narrow streets of Creel was intercepted by Gordon at the main square. They had arrived 20 minutes before. Gotta love a plan that comes together nicely. We hired a guide and tour that took us down the white knuckle track to the depths of the canyon and Batopilas where we would spend 2 nights. En route we would visit cave dwellers and villagers of the canyon; the Raramuri/ Tarahumara Indians, the worlds greatest long distance runners. They live there relatively unaffected by modern civilization tending their marijuana plots. Every once in awhile the government goes in and rousts them out, I think more of a show than anything. There were some guns around and very nice pickups. No problemo. Hotel Mary was simple, clean and so typically Mexican gorgeous. Batopilas was a silver mining area at one time. I had so much fun photographing the buildings of the minesite. Let your imagination take you back in time. We had gone from the pine forest logging and frosty mornings of Creel to a semi tropical climate at the bottom of the canyon with papaya mangoes and avocados. A drop of 1850 meters. Leaving Creel we headed towards Alamos near the coast east of Navojoa. We heard of this World Heritage site, an example of Spanish colonialism that escaped demolition after Mexico attained independence in 1821. It did not disappoint. Ex pats are rebuilding this once grand silver mining town. Enough of dry land travels. Lets go sailing: 2 days drive took us back to San Carlos and Demelza. Relaunch was fun and successful and we were off across the sea in 25k of wind and pretty rough seas, leaving San Carlos well before daylight. Nancy bonded with the side berth for the crossing and remained pretty well horizontal. Don`t think anyone puked but they had good reason to.Water flew about everywhere. Demelza and I were having a blast after too long on dry ground. Santa Rosilia was our landfall. Punta Santa Ines then back into Bahia Conception where we visited Gordo and Gwen in Playa Santispac. We had met them the previous July in Liard Hot springs in northern BC on our way to the Yukon to visit our son Brad and Lindsey. Small world. Punta Pulpito offered us some grand vistas while hiking and a chance to get off Demelza. Time was getting tight so at Loreto we put Gordon and Nancy ashore to bus to La Pas and fly home to Victoria. Elizabeth and I were on our own once more so stopped at Honeymoon cove on Isla Danzante. Agua Verde welcomed us once more then on to the red rocks of Puerto Los Gatos. There we ran into a couple ,the girl a crazy Canuck, who were hiking from Agua Verde south with their dog. They were dry and beat after wandering around in dry gulches and impossible desert mountains. You cannot carry enough water to sustain yourself and a dog in that heat. Salt water doesn`t cut it and that isn`t even accessible most of the time. Further south was familiar territory on our way back to La Pas. We had a truck and camper to get back to Alberta. Before we left La Pas and Marina Palmira we realized yet another dream when we swam with the whale sharks off el Magote. These gentle giants gave us a nice show. Storing Demelza in lovely Marina Palmira we took to Mexican public transport once again. Ferry to Los Mochis bus to Guaymas then taxi back to marina Seca. Headed north once more and after 5 days of driving were were in a blizzard from Lethbridge home. We are really getting around.We had paddled above the arctic circle in the Canadian north, toured Mexico by truck and camper, and sailed the Sea of Cortez. All in 1 year. My perfect year. We had a lovely Christmas at home with the family this time with another granddaughter Andrea along with Kaitlyn.

Cruising the Sea of Cortez/ Jan 09
Jan-Mar 09
01/10/2009

Early January and it was time to get back to Demelza and check out the Sea of Cortez. Ted and Deb , Elizabeth`s long lost relative picked us up at the airport and treated us royaly. One of my main considerations in storage for Demelza was to create a favourable impression for Elizabeth on our return. It was working out very well; a nice marina, pickup at airport and a nice part of Mexico. After a lovely time with them including fishing we untied the lines and headed north into 35k of wind as we beat our way to Fraile around the tip and north. Welcome to the Sea of Cortez. Water flew and whales breached all around us. We had to be careful we did not run over them. Beating to windward to Fraile then motoring to Muerotos and La Pas. Beautiful warm and brilliant seas, dolphins, turtles desert coastline. Our first stint in Mexico was full of what we called " Pinch me moments". I can`t believe we are here! La Pas at anchor then Marina de La Pas gave us great access to the Malecon. What a lovely time it was spending time there amongst the beautiful Mexicans; young ,old , singles and families, warm breeze coming off the Sea. Pinch me. We had to get going so provisioning then heading out. Isla Espiritu Santo had always been a dream of mine but always thought it would be by kayak but now here we were on my own sailboat. Los Islotes swimming amongst the sea lions and marine life was and yet another highlight. We found ourselves at anchor at Isla San Francisco thinking "Hey carnival is coming up in La Pas,( third week in Feb) so back we went on a beautiful down wind sail. The week of Carnival was so enjoyable. We found ourselves very lucky to be at the right place at the right time : from Crowning of the Queen, parades,to various concerts at the stage , all free, crowded, and classy. Go to Mexico for the music and culture. Now we are really running late so after provisioning again we headed out again; north.Beautiful panoramas and sunsets of the Sierra de la Giganta from Isla San Francisco, Amortajada for the mangroves and birds, San Evaristo, the beautiful red rock of Los Gatos then on to beautiful Agua Verde. My old friends Steven and Darusha from Scream were there. Nice to catch up. Snorkeling Roca Solitaria with them was a lovely day. Sun and warm, we were lucky and had a warm winter in the Sea. Next stop Loreto. A nice mix of everything that is Baja Mexico. Anchored off the beach the wind would drop as night went on. No: it came up stronger so 3 in the morning found us pulling anchor and making our way to Bahia Ballandra on Isla Carmen. San Juanico ,Sunday Mar 7, what a lovely , lovely spot. Spending a lot of time in anchorages is the sweet plus` of cruising but we had to keep moving. We had to make it to San Carlos on the mainland for boat storage and return home. Next stop on the road north was the tight little anchorage of San Sebastion which we entered just as dark approached. Bahia Conception is a spot we had visited and paddled as a family in 1988 when we drove as far south as La Pas . It was nice to return and approach from the water. Mar 13 2008 was our crossing from Mulege to San Carlos, a passage I will never forget. Starting out on flat seas and warm sun, swell eventually rolled us gunwale to gunwale so we raised main. Darkness fell and the phosphorescence was unbelievable. Bait fish or maybe squid created glowing circles that we motored through, dolphins surrounded us with glowing torpedoes; spectacular. As the moon came up so did the wind to 20k on the beam which took us into San Carlos arriving at 1am moon light. Arrangements at Marina Seca all went like clockwork until we were motoring into the marina for a 10 o'clock date with the cat loader for haulout. While underway I put it in gear and nothing, nodda. Coasting to the fuel dock we had to come up with a plan. Maggie came off the bow and nudged Demelza into the waiting haulout facility. Hauling Demelza down a 4 lane highway with Elizabeth peering down from the cockpit at the passing traffic brought lots of laughs. I love Mexico! We bused north from San Carlos to catch a ride with Elizabeths sister Barbara and Roger in Phoenix. Bus system in Mexico is so efficient and cheap. A 4 day drive north returned us home to snow. Adams dog Bailey was there to greet us, how did he know? Mar 21 2008

Coast of Baja
light winds
11/28/2008

IThe trip down the Baja holds a number of memories for me but mostly I was just" on the road". First stop after Ensenada was behind the bight of Bahia San Quintin, a very short stay of about an hour sleep. Kelp beds of Punta Baja and on to Bahia Tortugas. Motoring north of Isla Cedros in the middle of a very black night a cold front went through which sent me scrambling raising and adjusting sails in 35k of clocking wind and rain. It felt so good to be sailing at least. An hour of frantic activity left me once more with no wind but now very lumpy seas. Arrrrrrrg. I was so tired. Passing Isla Cedros I entered Dewey Channel: dodging crab traps and motorsailing hard to make Turtle bay before dark. Darkness fell and I could see the lights at the entrance to Turtle bay. Another squall with 40k of wind and pounding rain hit as I approached the entrance. Could I trust my chart plotter? I had to, I was too tired to think. I guess my chart plotter was accurate; I made my way into the anchorage and dropped the hook and died. Poking my head out in the morning I was near s/v Rio Nimkish, Tom and Shirley. Fueled up in Turtle bay, a short walk around town and off the next morning buddy boating with Rio Nimkish. Stops in Asuncion, behind Punta Abreojos then San Juanico were all a slalom course dodging 100s of crab traps. Ugly yellow plastic line trailed out from the traps just waiting to wrap your prop. Single handing in good sized waves looking out for and dodging all those traps. Arrrrg!! A lot of the time I followed Rio Nimkish, at least there were 2 sets of eyes on their boat. They helped me immensely. Rio Nimkish wrapped their prop and sailed into Asuncion dragging the trap as an anchor. That was enough of that so we made straight shot open ocean to Bahia Santa Maria just north of Magdalena Bay. I left Rio Nimkish and pushed on past Mag bay to Cabo San Lucas. I was looking for a place to leave Demelza and go home. Approaching Cabo Falso was at the end of the fishing day out on Golden Gate Bank as streams of fishing boats passed me, sails flogging with light air in their wake. I was so envious of their speed. Dropped anchor off the beach at Cabo staying 2 nights. Memories of my time there was listening for requests for professional alcoholics from the blaring discos on the beach front into the wee hours of the morning. Jet skis and para gliders almost ran over my anchor chain. Glad to get out of there and moved east to Marina Los Puertos in San Jose Del Cabo. I had found the spot to leave Demelza and 3 days later I was winging my way via West Jet for home. It was Dec 8 and I was looking forward to seeing everyone especially my Grandaughter Kaitlyn. Cruising was put on hold for awhile.

Entering Mexico
11/24/2008

It seems sometimes like it`s calculated. Anchorages along the coast can only be entered in the daylight if you can put in a full day at 8 knots of speed. A 32ft sailboat doesn`t go 8 knots consistently so you are always battling entering anchorages in the dark, something that is strongly advised against and for good reason. It`s generally scary and confusing. Much better to leave an anchorage you are somewhat familiar with in the dark so there I was creeping out of Shelter Is, San Diego in dense fog at 5am just before sunrise. Single handing. Fog horns droned and the sounds and glow from the city filled the air. I really wanted to get into Ensenada before dark. The gods were looking out for me, a vision I will never forget as a cruise ship and myself almost became one. Wow was that close. One should learn by his close calls. The most underrated tool in fog I believe is your vhf radio. Hello is anyone out there? but it was 5 in the morning. After collecting myself I made the passage to Ensenada and yes arrived in the dark, creeping in through fishing boats and lots of traffic. Were any of them dragging nets? Creeping inside the breakwater with the lights and sounds of the city making it all tense, I found a nice spot to drop the hook. I was in Mexico. Poking my head out in the morning revealed a different world than BC or US west coast. An old Mexican laid out nets near Demelza with a flock of sea gulls keeping him company. You could tell he was a regular at this; trying to get something to eat: I would not eat anything taken from that water. Shortly after, a visit from the gendarme informed me I was not allowed to anchor there. They were decent about it. That explains why there were no boats there. Soon after contacting the marina I was able to get in the last remaining slip. Four days later I was checked into mexico after jumping through a lot of hoops all with a language barrier present. Seemed bad at the time but really not that bad. On average the officials were pretty patient with this Gringo. Baja 1000 motor bike race was on so lots of crazed American and Mexican young bikers around generally with a number of young women hanging on them. Cervezas flowed. Hung out with Jason and Christine off s/v Lotus from Denver. They were heading north returning from the Carribbean.

San Francisco to San Diego
11/01/2008

I was ready to go, I had a new crew member in the form of Simone. I had installed a tiller pilot on Henry , my Hydrovane and jury rigged a tiller extension out of galvanized plumbing parts. Not pretty! I had tried to get something more nautical and professional; not possible, they had gone duck hunting after screwing me around for too long, I had to get going. Later when talking to Elizabeth about Simone being on the helm she asked Who`s Simone? Being made by Simrad I thought Simone was a fitting name. Leaving San Francicso Bay buddy boating with s/v Scream we negotiated the shallows and ,sand bars and huge breaking waves of the potato patch and outer entrance. Steve had commented they had whales ahead, nice, but after watching a huge humpback clear the water and re-enter with a huge kersplash right in front of their vessel Steve came back with a " I think we will change course now". Good Idea !Stops in Half Moon Bay, Santa Cuz, Montery and Morrow Bay got me further down the road. Mexico was were I wanted to be. Morrow Bay was an amazing place, like being anchored in one big nautical marine park. Always something crashing into the water or emerging from below. Spent time with s/v Oonda in Morrow Bay and down the coast to Santa Barbara and out into the Channel islands. 2 days of gale force winds pummelling Demelza behind Santa Cruz Is made me appreciate the anchorages of BC coast. You call this an anchorage? One last stop at Avalon, Santa Catalina, before San Diego. A San Diego welcome is always complete with aircraft carriers, overhead fighter jets, and lots and lots of commercial traffic. Had a war broke out while I have been out of touch? San Diego, besides having the best of marine services, contact with everyone heading south, also entertained with drug busts next door. They just demolished that boat. Home land security became more civilized the farther south I got, I was checked out of US and next stop Ensenada and Mexico.

02/27/2011 | Dave
Be sure to check out http://groups.yahoo.com/group/southbound_group/

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