05/31/2012, Los Muertos & Los Frailes
05/31/2012, Costa Baja at La Paz
May 22 - May 29, 2012: The Costa Baja Resort lured us in with all the ambience of 5 star resort, golf course and lovely marina. Hey why not, it was our last hurrah in La Paz. Actually the marina rates were quite reasonable, about $30/night or $.65/ft for an eight night stay. The place was very enjoyable although the restaurants were a little expensive. It would have been cheaper if I forgave the couple glasses of wine. The best part was the shuttle to town and the grocery stores. It traveled numerous times thru the day and if you timed it right you could grocery shop, run errands and then hitch a ride back to the marina.
As soon as we arrived, we managed to hit one of the hottest days; about 100°. Sure did not need that temperate as we could barely get the boat tied up, turned on the air conditioner and crashed down below. The air conditioner worked very hard trying to cool down the boat. You know when you don't have a car, simple life projects get harder to manage and you are lucky to accomplish 1 or 2 things in a day. Besides with this heat, I am lucky to manage at all. We did however enjoy dinners out with friends to say our goodbyes. On Tuesday, we picked up our new crew member, Dick Althaus who was crazy enough to say yes to bashing up the coast with us to San Diego. I do fret though that he is going from Montana to Seattle to La Paz and probably will see a 50 degree weather change.
Bob & Dick accomplished installing our new GPS and getting the anchor chain painted. It was not a simple feat considering the temperatures. I managed three trips to the grocery store to provision and stock up on comfort food to see us thru the next couple of weeks. The tonic part of a gin and tonic is damn near an impossible task to find but successfully completed. I wouldn't want my newest crew member to suffer after a long day on the water without the appropriate reward of grog, 21st century style.
05/31/2012, Isla San Francisco & Caleta Partida
May 20 - 21, 2012: Next stop before La Paz is Caleta Partida, a lovely anchorage tucked in between two islands, Islas Espiritu and Partida, which are part of the Natural Marine Park. We took a dinghy ride around the area admiring the volcanic geological history with its various layers of sediment as well as the natural erosion caused by wind and water. Sea birds occupied the cliffs with their young and chewed us out if we got too close. One large cactus just a few feet off the water was home to a family of blue herons.
May 18 - 19, 2012: Finally got to Isla San Francisco for a couple days stay where Bob could dive on the boat and check our prop and barnacle growth. It was in good shape with just a couple of free loaders attaching themselves. The water was very clear but a little on the cool side, only 74 degrees. The coromuels have been kicking up now that we are close to La Paz. These winds are common in this area beginning in the evening and blowing throughout the night. They are caused by the cool air from the Pacific Ocean flowing across the warm land to the Sea of Cortez. One night was so strong that Bob stood anchor watch for a couple of hours. I pretended to sleep.
05/18/2012, Ballandra on Isla Carmen
May 8 - 12, 2012: Well, today was a first for Ponderosa and her crew ... we couldn't free our anchor and boy were we stuck. I knew something was wrong, as I lay ready to flake our chain, when Bob pulled chain in and then let chain back out several times. When the bow dipped forward I was dreading the worst which was losing ground tackle.
We tried for a good hour swinging the boat back and forth but no luck even with help from a fellow cruiser in his dinghy pushing and pulling on the chain. Finally I put out a call to the fleet in the anchorage asking for help. Turns out a local diver was working just a short distance from our boat. The cruiser notified the diver of our plight and sent "Carlos" over to dive on our boat. Carlos was one strong beefy Mexican who in less than ½ hour freed our 66 lb Bruce anchor from the sunken boat that we believe was a panga. Wow, were we ever relieved to be free with all our chain and anchor intact. About 60 ft of chain ended up wrapped around this sunken vessel. So $500 pesos (about $40 USD) and 2 hours later we were happily on our way.
Don't even bother to wonder if the port would mark this hazard ...
We have had other interesting anchoring episodes but this was first for us. The old saying about: "those that have and those that will" rings true. It's just a matter of time. Time to check this off the bucket list of boating no-no's.
Once underway we did a short hop up to Nopolo, a great spot that has incredible internet access. It was time to catch up on emails and news. The access in Puerto Escondido is pathetic at best so using the Banda Ancha near the lovely resort in this bay is well worth the stop. We hung out here for a couple of days with the place to ourselves; it's timeout from social activities.
Our destination on Thursday was suppose to be the south end of Coronados Island. But we were having such a nice sail and heading east that we changed plans and went to Ballandra on Isla Carmen, aka "Bee-landra", home of the bees and many other flying critters. So far we have only seen 2 bees, 1 pesky horse fly and numerous annoying mosquitoes. Let's hope it stays that way for now.
05/18/2012, San Evaristo - North Anchorage
May 13 - 17, 2012: The lure of a fancy resort, wi-fi, swimming pool, cold umbrella drinks, etc was just too much for us to ignore for the good crew of Ponderosa. It was time to experience Bahia Candeleros home of a swank new resort hospitable to cruisers. We were allowed to enjoy the refreshing pools, (towels provided) buy food and drinks even though we are not official guests. Rumor has it that the vessels out at anchor add that touch of romance, ambience and great photo shots for the short-term visiting gringos. Doesn't hurt that the resort is making a killing off of the cruisers with their drink and food prices - my strawberry daiquiri cost $12.75 USD, but then again it had a liberal amount of rum added to it ... about 3 shots. I felt goooood soaking in the pool sucking down my foo-foo drink.
It was pleasant to be off the boat for a couple of afternoons since the Baja is heating up to the mid-90's. Far too hot for my blood ... just walking a few steps from our shaded lounge chairs to the pool burned our bare feet. Even the pool water, only 3 feet deep or so, was getting to lukewarm bath water temperature. You could readily spot the newly arrived gringos in their pale white skin. Some were going to sport a really bad sunburn. After two days of fun and $85 USD later (the price of "free") we ventured off southbound to Agua Verde where the water temp was about 78/80° and very refreshing.
Our next destination was Isla San Francisco as we are beginning to stage ourselves for going into LaPaz. This trip is 52 nautical miles so it was going to be a long day on the water. And of course, the wind was predicted out of the SE 10-20 knots ... yup, you guessed it, right on our nose plus we were bucking about a one knot current. Not much current according to Pacific Northwest standards but enough to slow our progress considerably.
Bob got in a full day of calisthenics managing the sails - in and out, in and out. First we motor, then we motor sail, then we kick ass and have fun sailing, then we reef, then we motor, then we sail again ... I think you get the drift. Mother Nature was being very fickle and hard to manage. In the end, we anchored in an alternate site with protection from the winds 11 miles short of our destination. Oh well, we can be lazy here too for the next day or so.
05/09/2012, Puerto Escondido
May 1 - 7, 2012: The chatter of Loreto Fest activities was in full swing on the nets and VHF radio. We were looking forward to seeing friends and having a chance to say hello to Chuck & Margie on Dream Catcher as well as saying goodbye to others we probably won't see again.
Besides fueling the boat we caught up on a few chores like laundry and grocery shopping. We also traded information with Dream Catcher about our favorite places to go here in Mexico and what to expect if they summer over in the Sea of Cortez.
Loreto Fest fun started Thursday afternoon and continued thru Sunday featuring card games, bocce ball, horse shoes, dinghy races, silent auction, music each night, Mexican dancers and singers plus last but not least lots of food and drink. The weather was hot and dry so I am sure the bar made a killing providing liquids to the highly tuned athletes; I say with tongue- in- cheek.
I participated in bocce ball losing 2 out of 3 games ... I blame my poor performance on the tacky light weight balls and nasty side hill pit. The other set of balls and pit was great and our team won hands down in that one, oh well, the sad laments of a loser.
However, team Ponderosa/Dream Catcher, aka Bob & Chuck, made a grand showing in horse shoes. They placed 2nd winning themselves a fine little award for their achievement. Not bad for a couple of guys that haven't pitched a shoe for awhile. It was grand fun and for the most part everyone was a good sport but then again you have a few that can't help but be competitive especially after a few beers kicked in.
It's pretty quiet around the anchorage today, as in Monday. The Baja Olympics for old geezers is finally over and everyone is resting up, nursing sunburns and heat exhaustion. Personally I glad not having to face hot dogs for awhile.