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Sailing with Thor
Leaving La Paz
02/07/2011, Caleta Lobos

Otto is back! Our repaired auto pilot finally arrived yesterday and after installing it and testing, it all worked fine. We finished preparations to get under way and left La Paz about 1:30 in the afternoon for the short trip (about 8 miles) to Caleta Lobos. And with that, another gorgeous Mexican sunset! We decided to only spend one night here, wanting to push on to Ensenada de Los Muertos today continuing our trip toward the Mexican mainland. We were greeted with southerly winds today, right on our nose and up to about 17 knots setting up a steady chop with short period wind waves. Otto steered flawlessly. Having 45 miles to cover for the day to the anchorage, we opted to motor sail so that we could travel the rumb line directly towards our destination and arrive before dark.

Over the weekend, we continued our exploration of La Paz, finding a really neat feed store that had everything from various pet foods to bulk spices and dried chiles. Most of the bulk goods were displayed in colorful bins some wooden and some plastic. There were many, many spices that we could not identify. We also visited another Dulceria, this one with a huge variety of pinatas and the candy and prizes that go in them. We stocked up on some various Mexican candy for those long night watches.

La Paz also seems to have a hardware store on just about every corner...they are called Ferreterias. We found an intersection that had these stores located on all 4 corners.

We discovered a small unique hotel right in the heart of downtown that had a huge array of antiques and art on display. This little hotel had only 12 rooms, but was also an art gallery and a tienda, Included with your room, you received coffee in the morning and a shot of tequilla in the evening. We found an old Baja California Sur license plate for sale, and it was purchased as a birthday present for Lorrie and her collection. Did I forget to mention it was Lorrie's birthday? - Feliz Cupleanos! We spent the entire day exploring La Paz and finished it off with a really nice dinner out.

02/11/2011 | Bonnie
Sounds like a perfect way to spend a birthday! Happy Birthday Lorrie.
Blowin' In The Wind
02/03/2011, La Paz, B.C.S.

When a high pressure system forms in the southwest US, it creates a pressure gradient differential in the Sea of Cortez. The result is wind...usually lots of it depending on the size of the gradient. And the wind blows from the north, strongly, and hence it is called a "norther". The wind builds up large seas as well, usually short period wind waves that can build to 10 feet or more. It's not so much the wind that can hurt, but the steepness of the seas that it creates. Here in La Paz, the anchorage is mostly open to the north and in calm conditions is a delightful anchorage. But when a norther is blowing, wind waves can build up in the harbor and add to that an ebbing tide against the wind will kick it up even more. The Port Captain will close the port to traffic in these conditions and he has. We took advantage of a slip being available at Marina de La Paz and moved into the marina yesterday. It has been 2 months since we were last "at the dock" and it was time to clean up the boat, do some routine maintenance and generally enjoy the dock scene for a few days without having to use the dinghy to go back and forth to shore. We are in the second day of the "norther" with the wind howling through the rigging at up to 30 knots. The boats at anchor in the harbor are being tossed around in rough conditions. We are not entirely motionless though. The slip that we are in lies abeam to the wind so we are being healed over slightly due to the strength of the wind. And with the current and surge, the boat is moving around quite a bit but it's comfortable compared to what we would be experiencing if we were still anchored in the harbor. We've taken advantage of our dock time and the available fresh water to thoroughly wash the boat. We hired Enrique to dive under the boat and clean the bottom. We also hired Jacob and Rolofo to wax the hull for us and polish up the stainless steel railings and fittings. These guys all work very hard, they did a great job and it's nice to support the local economy. Besides, we couldn't beat the price...the labor for all three of these guys came to less than $200! The boat is nice and clean and shiny! Tomorrow we'll add a coat of Semco (teak sealer) to all the exterior teak. We'll also add a coat of wax to all the stainless steel since it tends to give added protection and keep it looking nice longer. And, I almost forgot...we got a call this morning telling us that our auto pilot is on the truck on it's way and it may be in tomorrow! We'll keep our fingers crossed on that one and have to wait and see but that's the best news we've had in a while.

02/05/2011 | Mary and Ken Strasser
Yeah for

you. Marina de la Paz is one of the nicest places, and your auto pilot is coming! Best wishes.
02/07/2011 | Teri
Happy Birthday Lorrie!!!!
Exploring La Paz
01/31/2011, La Paz, B.C.S.

We checked on the progress of our auto pilot today...seems that it did not make it on the truck that left San Diego on Friday (we kind of had a feeling that it didn't since Custom Marine Electronics in San Diego was late in sending it over to the customs broker in San Diego last week.) What this means is that it we hope that it will make it on the next truck that may be coming down later this week. At least that's what Hamish at Lopez Marine is telling us. We chose to use his custom's broker and company to help us get the auto pilot through customs smoothly...it is just a very sloooow process. In the meantime, we continue to explore La Paz. Today we set out on a very long hike to the La Paz Plaza. This is about the only thing that closely resembles a mall in La Paz...movie theaters, Sears, Soriano grocery store, video arcade, and a number of smaller stores and businesses. This was our longest walk from the waterfront that we have done...all in all about 27 blocks (how long is a block?) Anyway, it was fun to pass through some neighborhoods and some other busy city scenery along the way. On another note, I forgot to mention on a walk into Centro (downtown) the other day, while we were on the sidewalk, a truck pulled along side the street next to us. The back of this truck was a large cage in which contained seven full sized tigers. Yes, tigers. In the cage about 6 feet from us. They were cute but no doubt could kill you in a second if they had the chance. They are part of the circus coming in to town. This is the last week of campaigning for 1 governor position, 5 mayor positions, and 16 council positions for various cities in Baja California Sur, including La Paz. The election is on February 6. Check your calendar, it's this Sunday. Yes, in Mexico voting day is on Sunday. We are anchored relatively close to shore, near a night club/disco that is on the beach. They have a live band on Friday nights. Saying that they are relatively quiet would be a vast understatement...these guys turn up the volume, LOUD and they don't quit until 4 am. We've talked to other boats anchored farther out and according to them it's no different, it's still loud. A big event in a young Mexican girls life is their 15th birthday. It's a very big deal...fancy gowns to wear, parties to give and attend, presents to open. Might be a little like sweet 16 in the US, only bigger. Also, we have seen and been into many Dulceria's. These are party shops. They have everything that you could think of for hosting a party. Including piñatas. Lots of brightly colored and decorated piñatas of all kinds of shapes and sizes. The shops also carry all the candy and small prizes that go into the piñatas. That's it for now...

Still in La Paz
01/28/2011, La Paz, B.C.S.

The days keep flying by...we have been here a week already and it seems like we just got here yesterday. We had our nice trip on the bus to the "countryside" and to Wal Mart. We've been talking with folks that are members of the Club Cruceros here in La Paz. Mostly cruisers and semi and permanent residents. They do all sorts of activities and are a wealth of information. I've been in touch with the folks in San Diego who are shipping our auto pilot down and with Lopez Marine here in town who is going to bring it in with his shipment to clear Customs. Noticed something new the other day...the Mexican campaigns for elections are in full swing and they boom loud messages over speakers while driving around town, but they also did it from a plane! A small plane flew low over the city with a message being blasted over loudspeakers. There is also a big prtest rally taking place today against a gold mine being planned. It is a strip mine and they want to use cyanide to leach the gold out, thus ruining the enviroment. A Canadian company of all things! You'd think they would have better morals than that but greed always wins, I guess. We found several more good street taco stands...I can't get enough of them, they are so good. I tried manta ray the other day, very tasty. The marina here has a service where we can place an order from Costco...it's nice that we don't have to cart several cases of heavy soda and beer so that is supposed to be delivered today. We also visited Ibarra's Pottery, in a very old section of town. This is a family run business, has been for almost 300 years. They do all the pottery right on site so we got to see the process of shaping clay, doing the firing, painting and fired again. They would not allow any photos...they said that some in the past have tried to copy their process. Tomorrow the cruisers are have a Beach Party of all things...might be fun! Oh and by the way, it's cloudy again today, the third day in a row so our solar panels are not giving us much in the way of amps. And it dripped a few rain drops over night! Just a little, enough to put big mud splotches on the deck!

Cruising La Paz
Lorrie, guest speaker
01/26/2011, La Paz, B.C.S.

We are in La Paz again to deal with the return of the autopilot from San Diego through Mexican customs and to get food. (I will just add it took 8 weeks for Rachel to get her Mexican Christmas card) While here, we decided to go to Walmart La Paz for entertainment, to search for Craisins, and so Marc can avoid working on the starter. So we caught a ride on the bus.. literally. You jump into the street in front of the bus and wave your arms. 8 pesos. Then you tell the driver where to let you off and if he remembers this you're good but if not, you get a tour. We got a tour but it was all good. Our driver was about 18 years old and sat on a phone book. Oh-Stopping at Stop signs is optional for drivers here. Why stop when a glance left or right works just fine..
Walmart La paz is pretty much the same as Walmart Bellingham but with no Craisins.
We are finished going north into the Sea of Cortez and I will really miss it. So many places to visit that the time and wind wouldn't allow but I am grateful for the wonderful people and places we did happen upon. In fact we have made contact with a fellow Bellinghamster on Morning Light. He has decided that Chile might be a nice place to live and will probably begin heading south whenever he feels like it. On that note, while in the CCC Grocery Store I happened upon some Canadians looking for cheese. From White Rock. Tourist season.

Anchored at La Paz
01/22/2011, La Paz, B.C.S.

After 5 weeks cruising the southern part of the Sea of Cortez, we have arrived back in La Paz. We will be here for possibly up to two weeks mainly waiting for our repaired auto pilot to catch up to us from San Diego. We will also re-provision, fill up the water tanks and fuel tank and do some other minor maintenance and repair items before beginning our next passage, making the crossing across to the mainland. The weather, here, continues to be the same...we have sunny weather and temps in the mid 70's during the day and low 50's at night. No rain or even clouds! We are affected by high pressure systems over the southwest US that can and do produce some pretty strong northerly winds. The anchorage at La Paz is heavily affected by a tidal stream in an out of the bay and if the wind is blowing, it can set up a fairly nasty chop. So far we have not had anything to exciting. We met up with an old cruising friend, John Lawler, who we first met in Bellingham 28 years ago and John made the trip down the coast in his boat, Morning Light, that same year in 1983 that we did. Unlike us, though, this is now his 4th trip to Mexico and since he is now retired he is thinking of making La Paz his permanent residence. There are some other activities going on in the city that we are going to explore.

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