Sailing Mexico October - December 2010
14 December 2010 | San Carlos to Baja
We arrived in San Carlos the early morning of October 13th. We had flown into Tucson and spent the prior evening with Kari and Erik Olson. They dropped us at the bus stop and at 1:00 a.m. we boarded our bus to Guaymas. We arrived around 7 a.m. in Guaymas, loaded our luggage into a taxi and headed to San Carlos. The boat was launched and in the water by 1:00 p.m.
We spent a week in San Carlos provisioning the boat and getting everything ready before heading across the Sea of Cortez to Baja. While in San Carlos we met Roger and Billie. They were a very nice couple who lives in San Carlos and we spent some good times with them during our stay in San Carlos. Billie went out one day with us for a short sail while Roger had to leave and went to the States on business.
We left at 3:00 a.m. on Thursday, October 21st to cross over to Baja. We arrived in the south anchorage of Isla San Marcos the next afternoon. We crossed the sea along with another sail boat (Akupara) whom we were anchored next to in San Carlos but hadn't met other than a wave here and there. We actually ended up hanging out with them and another sailboat (SOMF) for about a week and a half.
The next morning we walked to the village on Isla San Marcos. The village has about 600 residents who work mining Gypsum which is used for sheet rock. It was a nice town and the people were very friendly to us. We looked inside the church and hit the grocery store then walked back to the boat. That afternoon Kelly went out to spear us some fish for dinner. He came back all excited. He said that he tried to spear a rooster fish but the spear bounced off of it. Instead he speared a nice hog fish which made for a delicious dinner.
The next morning we sailed up to Santa Rosalia. We got a slip at the Marina Sta Rosalia, a rickety old marina with some interesting cruisers working the office. You pay by the honor system and write everything you take out of the refrigerator on a slip of paper and pay when you are ready to leave. There was internet service inside the building and the people were really friendly.
We walked the town and walked up a hill to see the museum. Unfortunately it was closed but we took pictures. We ate at a few places that were mentioned in the cruisers guide. One hotdog stand called Chuyitas made these deep fried hot dogs that were wrapped in bacon. They put them in a soft hotdog bun and added the following: onions, tomatoes, mustard, mayonnaise, nacho cheese, jalapenos among other mexican styled condiments you wouldn't think to put on a dog. It was so delicious and well worth every calorie. Early next morning we hiked up to the smoke stack above Santa Rosalia. Santa Rosalia is an old copper mining town. The old mining buildings are still along the waterfront and mining equipment is seen all over town. The smoke stack was built up on the hill so the smoke wouldn't cover the town. It had a cement shaft that snaked up the hill from the factory on the waterfront. We hiked up there and at the base of the stack met a guy named Gabriel who was building a house. He spoke very good english and he told us about some old mine shafts that were further up the hill. He gave us directions and flash lights and off we went to explore. We found them and hiked back into one about 1/4 of a mile. It was so hot and humid in the shaft but was very interesting. We returned the flashlights to Gabriel and visited with him a while longer. He was building a house because he was living with several relatives and wanted his own place. It had a spectacular view of the sea, probably the nicest piece of property around. Gabriel is a diver and offered to take us out for a dive. We declined but may take him up on his offer some time in the future.
The next morning we sailed back south to Isla San Marcos and anchored for the night and then on a few nm (nautical miles) south to Punta Chivato. We anchored on the north anchorage at a beach called "dead man's beach". The water was a little rough but we tucked into the corner. We explored the beach and Kelly snorkeled around the rocks at the point. That night the winds picked up and it got a little more rough so at around midnight Kelly woke me up to say we were going to move to the south anchorage. Two hours later we dropped the hook in calm water and went back to bed.
We explored the long beach on Punta Chivato the next day. The beach had so many shells and believe it or not I didn't pick up one. We visited a while with two men that had a beach house there. Paul had kayaked by our boat and talked to us for awhile and invited us to stop by the house. So we did and had a nice visit when him and his friend Rich. They gave Kelly a lure and unfortunately we didn't catch anything on it. We were then we were off to Bahia Concepcion. Kelly was pretty excited that he hoisted the spinnaker as we left anchor at Punta Chivato and took it down as we anchored at Santo Domingo without using the engine.
We spent one night at Santo Domingo which is just on the outside of the entrance to Bahia Concepcion. The next morning we walked along the beach and once back on the boat I slipped down the companionway and hit my head and either cracked or separated some ribs on my back. I would feel them for the remainder of the trip. It was not pleasant.
Then we went on in to Bahia Concepcion and spent a week near Santispac. We hung out with Jerry and Lauren on sv SOMF whom we met at Anna's Restaurant and Akupara (Dan & Kate) whom we met earlier. One morning we all hiked the hill overlooking Burro Cove. The remainder of the time in Concepcion we spent watching the World Series, visiting and sharing meals. One day Kelly and I hitched hiked to Mulege. I was in need of a hairdresser and was in luck. I found a salon and this girl colored my hair and trim my bangs for only $12.00! Best deal we found in Mexico. We bought more groceries and went to Scotty's to watch the World Series with our friends from SOMF and Akupara.
After spending an entire week in Concepcion we headed south to San Juanico. Hoping to see our friends from last year, Steve & Cathy (sv Lilly) and Robert and Virginia (sv Harmony). Steve just happened to be doing the radio net the morning we picked up anchor and when Becky checked in we found that they would indeed be in San Juanico when we got there. As we dropped the anchor both couples came over to welcome us. It was a nice reunion. Also in the anchorage was Dave and Karen from sv Paragon. They were also with us last year. We spent evenings playing bocce ball and visiting. Akupara and SOMF were also in anchorage with us. We hiked to the north anchorage and while on our hike Kate spotted some Apache tears so her and I collected a handful. Kelly was thrilled! lol One night we built a fire on the beach and roasted hotdogs. More great times with our new friends. A boat called Wakuna was also in anchorage with us and they had a satellite set up on the beach and provided everyone in the anchorage with internet. Wakuna called every boat as they came into the anchorage and told them they were more than welcome to use the internet. It really was a sweet set up. I went to the beach one afternoon and sat under a tree and surfed the net. Wakuna also had an air compressor and filled our tanks for us. What a nice guy.
Next we headed out to Isla Coronados and spent one day at our favorite white sandy beach. It was very relaxing. We just spent the day reading and walking along the beach. SOMF was a day behind us and Akupara went to Puerto Ballandra before heading to Puerto Escondido where we would all meet up again.
The next morning we were off to Puerto Escondido just south of Loreto. We planned to meet Steve & Cathy from sv Lilly to drive up to the San Jarvier Mission about 20 miles west of Loreto. The next morning we jumped into the rental car with Steve & Cathy and headed up into the mountains. What a beautiful place. The mission is in very good shape for it's age (300 years old). On our way up two of the cars that were going to be in the Baja 1000 the following week came barreling up behind us. They were doing their practice run before the actual race. We decided that we'd meet back up the next week and rent a car and watch the race together.
The next day we hiked up Steinbeck canyon with Jerry & Lauren and Skeeter the dog. The canyon was dry and only had a few pools with water. Very different from our hike last year with Travis Cutter where we dove into pools and slid down natural water slides. We did, however, find the route to the top of the waterfall. After climbing back into caves and scrambling up chimneys and rope ladders we made it to the top. It was a great time.
We were tired of Puerto Escondido and ready to journey south to Agua Verde before we had to be back for the Baja 1000. We hosted a dinner on Escape and found out the while in Punta Ballandra Dan had proposed to Kate and they were now officially engaged. We were all very excited for them. Soon Dan & Kate were headed off to La Paz to meet Dan's boss for a job so we said our goodbye's to them. Jerry & Lauren followed us to Agua Verde.
We had a few days until the Baja 1000 so we spent 3 days anchored off the pristine green waters there. Kelly & I dove several times and the water was very clear with at least 50 ft visibility. Wakuna was there as well and filled our tanks for us again. Barney motored his dingy up to us one day and had to ginormous dog snappers in the bottom of his dingy. Kelly and I went directly out and tried to find our own to spear but no luck. One day we hiked to a cave that had some old indian petroglyphs with Jerry & Lauren and a few others from the anchorage. We had to climb up a fairly steep hill to see them but it was worth the effort. We shared some more great meals with Jerry & Lauren and many laughs.
We said our goodbye's to Jerry & Lauren (sv SOMF) since we couldn't talk Jerry into coming back to Puerto Escondido with us and headed back to Puerto Escondido to watch the Baja 1000 with Lilly. We were very excited we picked up our rental car at noon and headed to Loreto. The first racers weren't due until around midnight so we had some time to kill. We messed around Loreto and had lunch at our taco stand, McLulu's. Steve and Cathy hadn't been there before and they seemed to enjoy it as much as we did. We went ahead and did our grocery shopping because we'd planned to spend the entire night out watching the race and figured we wouldn't be in the mood to shop the next morning. After dropping the groceries off back at the boat and eating dinner at the marina we headed off to watch the race. Mark on sv Orchid and Dean on sv Physic joined us. We found a spot just off the road on the river bed. There were fires all along the riverbed with other Baja 1000 spectators who were waiting for the excitement to begin. We arrived around 9:00 and at around 10:00 the first motorcycle came riding through. We were so excited until he took the wrong line and headed straight towards us. I ran for cover and he came within 20 feet of our campfire. What an exciting way to start the race! About an hour later two more motorcycles came through both a little lost as to where the course went. The next to come were going to be the super trucks we were both excited and a little apprehensive since the motorcycles were coming our direction instead of staying on the course. But then another hour passed and we saw the sky light up and there came the first super truck. Boy was it loud. Luckily it stayed on the course. We stayed up all night watching motorcycles, quads, super trucks and then other vehicles come racing through. We decided we needed to stay until the sun came up so we could watch during the daytime. It was well worth it. Check out a video in the video section. After leaving the race course we dropped the boys off at Puerto Escondido and headed back to Loreto for breakfast and to try and get our dive tanks filled. When we got back to the boat and finally laid down I had been up for 34 hours straight. I was exhausted and fell quickly to sleep.
We stayed in Puerto Escondido another day and then our power inverter broke. We use the power inverter to charge our computer and our camera batteries. Kind of a necessity. We were planning on going to our next anchorage which was Puerto Ballandra directly across from Loreto so we decided to stop in Loreto and anchor off the small marina and try and find us an inverter. It took us a long time but in the end just before giving up we found one at a hardware store. Now we were back in business. Oh yes, we were a little hungry so we stopped at McLulu's for more tacos! ;)
Next stop was Puerto Ballandra on Isla Carmen. Lilly was going to meet us there for a few days. A big northern was called for the next 5 days so we stayed in the anchorage for it to blow by. Unfortunately, it is a national park and you can't spear fish so we had to dig into our chicken, steak and pork for meals. Lilly decided to spend the entire time with us at anchor so we were able to spend more quality time with them including Thanksgiving. We actually sailed their boat across to Loreto one day for a propane and grocery run. We found our last tank was not as full as we needed it to be so we decided to take Lilly. Boy was that ever fun. Lilly is a 47.7 Beneteau First which is a racing boat. It is so beautiful and fun to sail.
The winds eased up on Saturday. Lilly headed back to Puerto Escondido because they were heading back home to Spokane for the holidays the next week. We continued heading north to our anchorage on Isla Coronados for the night. I had woke up that morning very sick and didn't feel good the entire day. I ended up sleeping it off pretty much the entire day. Not only did I sleep most of the day I slept that entire night too and woke the next morning feeling pretty good.
We then picked up the anchor and headed north again for San Juanico for the next northern. We stopped at Punta Mangles on the way to San Juanico. The beach was fabulous. I have this habit of going to a beach and finding all the pretty shells I can find. Boy did this beach have them. Kelly just shook his head and said "You are keeping all of those?" I didn't, I just kept some really small ones for Kelly's Mom. She loves shells and these were all the same and a coral color. We stayed only a short time and finished our trip to San Juanico.
The winds picked up again and this time we had around 25 - 30 knots that lasted a couple of days. We went to shore only a few times and then we were wearing sweatshirts most of the time. A lot of movies were watched and books read while at anchor. Another boat at anchor was Kokomo with Denny and Becky on board. We spent time with them and had another hot dog roast on the beach. They are taking the next 5 years to sail around the world. It will be fun to read their blogs and watch their progression.
On Wednesday, the winds were fairly light so Kelly cleaned the bottom of the boat. We heard on the net that the winds would die and the next northern would start the following Monday. We then decided that we would go ahead and continue north the following morning and depending on the weather forecast either keep going north to Santa Rosalia and cross back to San Carlos or cross over earlier. We needed to be back across the sea before the northern blew on Monday.
We ended up spending one night at Isla San Marcos before heading up to Santa Rosalia. We again stayed at Marina Sta Rosalia and walked to town. Of course we had to have another hot dog with the works. Santa Barbara Days were going on. I guess in Mexico for each day of the year it's named for a Saint. This day happened to be Saint Santa Barbara day which is the saint for Santa Rosalia. There were drums and dancers and the saint paraded through town before going to the church for an elaborate service. It was fun to watch.
Kelly woke up early and we took off for our crossing to San Carlos at 5 a.m. I woke up to the boat rocking back and forth. Wondering what was going on and I couldn't sleep anyways I got up to see what was happening. Well there were rollers and soon the winds began to blow and the seas built. We had a fast trip across with winds reaching 25 knots. Kelly found that our average boat speed was 7.1 knots and the highest speed was 8.8 knots. There was a little water over the bow but we finally made it across after 11 hours.
Instead of going right into Bahia San Carlos we went into Bahia Algodnes. The beach is the "Catch 22" beach we love to walk. We anchored two nights and then headed in to get a slip at the marina. Kelly spent the afternoon rinsing the boat and all our dive gear. Becky did laundry. Kelly ran into Dave and Karen from sv Paragon. They invited us to a cruisers party on Friday night at their house. Looking forward to seeing them again.