12/20/2009, Marina Costa Baja, La Paz, Mexico
OK, I posted some more pictures in the gallery of Los Frailes and Ensenada de Los Muertos bays.
12/19/2009, La Paz, Mexico
We'll we finally made it to La Paz!!! It took us four months and three days to do it, but we are now at Marina Costa Baja (24 13.006N 110 17.966W) just North of La Paz all tied in.
We launched the dingy while we were in Los Muertos and headed in to the local restaurant for a nice lunch. It had been the Giggling Marlin Restaurant(quite famous along the coast) but was now under a different name. The Marlin had sold out and left. Once back at Zephyr, we stowed Puff on deck and got everything ready for setting off for La Paz. I looked into the problems we had with the bilge pump running continually and found that an old bottle of wine had slid from somewhere forward in the bilge and pushed a hose up so that it held the switch up making the pump run all the time. Now the switch is fixed and I got a nice bottle of red wine out of the job. It's been there so long that there is no label on it so I guess we will have a mystery wine some night with dinner.
We left Los Muertos last night at 2200 after the wind had calmed down some. Two other boats had already left and radioed back that they were making good progress up the channel. Now the reason we had to leave at such a late hour was not just the wind, but also the tide. It was still a flood tide till 0855 this morning so we wanted to take advantage of it to help us ride it in instead of fighting it the next day. Plus, it's a trip of 54 miles and that takes a while at about 5 knots.
Off we went at a good clip with the winds pushing us along for a while and once we rounded the corner and headed up the channel between Isla Cerralvo and Baja, the wind hit us in the face all over again. No where near as bad as it had been the previous day, but it slowed us down for a while. With the incoming tide, we were still making good time so we slowed Zephyr down to just over 4 knots so that we would make it to Canal San Lorenzo which separates the Baja from Isla Spiritu Santo. There, the tide can run up to 3 knots through a sort of narrow channel with reefs and shoals on both sides so you try to hit it at a flood tide if at all possible. Well, as I said, our tide reversed at 0855 and we had to be through there by then or pay the piper with a current hitting us smack on the nose.
Luck was with us and we got there just about 0700(having slowed down a good bit). We coasted through the channel just fine and made our way toward La Paz. I radioed ahead and tried to get a slip at Marina de La Paz but they only had one left and it was on an outside finger of a pier and would be quite rolly. We opted to try for Marina Costa Baja about 4 miles North of La Paz, right at the main entrance to the channel that finally leads to La Paz. La Paz a VERY well protected anchorage but suffers from tidal flow where your boat will be facing one way for several hours and then will reverse as the tide changes. It's called the La Paz Waltz. If you are at anchor, you better be anchored well or you will drag as your boat changes direction over and over. Never a good thing when there are so many boats around as there are in La Paz.
Tomorrow, I get to go up the mast as we found that the wind instrument at the top has broken loose and is flopping around. Luckily, it hasn't broken any of the wind cups. So up I go to find out what has happened.
Meanwhile, we have settled in by taking a short walk around the marina/resort. It is quite a place with lots of things to do and see. After a short nap to try and catch up on the sleep we lost last night, we took the 1620 shuttle(the marina runs a shuttle to town every hour) into town and walked the streets and had a great dinner at one of the local restaurants. I tried a steak, Mexican style. It ended up being steak fajitas. Who knew that is what Mexican style meant. We walked down to Marina de La Paz, where we had intended to stay. It is right in the middle of town and noisy as all get out. Lots of boats coming and going and exposed to all sorts of wind that we don't have up at Marina Costa Baja. We're glad we chose to stay where we are. It's a bit of a trip to town but that's all right.
So over the next few days, we have several tasks to get done before we set off again. One of the first tomorrow is to wash Zephyr down and get all the salt off her hull and deck as well as all the equipment on deck. It can clog every block if left to time.
I'll be posting more pictures over the next day or so of the slog up from Cabo San Lucas. Stay tuned for more
12/12/2009, Ensada de Los Muertos
After days of waiting(along with 12 other boaters), we made the jump to Ensenada Los Muertos. Now yesterday(Wednesday), had been another day of waiting. We needed the wind to finally drop to under 20 and the wind swells to back down some. They had been rolling down the Sea of Cortez at a rate of a 5 foot wave every 5 seconds or less. That, mixed with the wind is not a fun day on a sailboat. The wind howled through the anchorage and blew and blew and blew. With the DuoGen on the stern, it blew so much, I didn't have to fire up the engine to get the amps replaced in the battery.
Today(Thursday) was the day. The winds were forecast to be only 10 to 15 and maybe 20 as a max depending on who you spoke to or read. The best time to leave was in the early morning. Winds and waves would be at their smallest. We got a radio transmission from a boat called "Pam Demonium" that they had left the anchorage about 2330 hours. They got slammed by waves and winds as they rounded the corner of the small bay we were in(Los Frailes). They thought for a while that they would have to turn back as they had a few days ago during a previous attempt. Instead, they along with the folks on Arena(we first met them in San Diego) took off. Arena was actually the first out and there was no stopping them.
So we got up on deck and made the last preparations for getting underway. Several other boats were up on deck also getting ready. We upped the anchor about 0030(living the dream remember) and headed out under a moonless sky. It was blowing about 15 to 20 when we left the anchorage. More boats followed us out. There had been 13 boats in the anchorage, some for over a week just waiting. Two by two, out we came into the wind and waves. They hadn't let up. In the end, we think 7 of the 13 boats took off today, maybe more. Off we set, with the wind on our port(left) side at a steep(for a boat) angle. We were getting nailed by winds at about 45 degrees, luckily coming from the Northwest. Off we went--slowly but surely. We don't know why, but with winds like those(20+ knots), we should have been easily hitting 6.5 knots. Instead, we were lucky to do 3.5 knots. We put up different sail combinations_- reefed main with the foretaysail.. Full main with the forestaysail and a small amount of the Genoa sail. Nothing got us up to anywhere near 6 knots.
We sailed across parts of the Sea of Cortez about 18 miles out from the Baja and as much as 35 miles from where we started. Not quite in the right direction, but sort of. Once out 36 miles, we looked to turn West to head up to where we actually wanted to go(still on the Baja side). We had hoped to make it back on a nice 90 degree turn but Mother Nature would have nothing of that, so we ended up turning 120 degrees which put us on the wrong heading for where we needed to go. Much too far South. The winds continued coming from the North with matching waves. Once we figured out that there was just no way to make any kind of speed toward our destination, we threw in the towel and started the engine. As it turns out, so did most of the "fleet" from Los Frailes. By the time we were done, we had gone 76 miles to cover the distance of 42 miles to get to De Las Muertos. A long and punishing day for all of us. We're now anchored at 23 59.215N 109 49.720 W. At least that is what the Garmin says. But looking at the map on the Garmin, it shows us on land. So much for accuracy.
One boat blew out his Genoa sail. He arrived just after us with it in tatters. Another had problems with his transmission and limped in later. Another tore the leech(outside edge) edge of his Genoa slogging through the wind and waves. We have problems with the fresh water pump running continually. We didn't catch it till morning so it took a lot of our amps over night. It wasn't running when we arrived and started sometime during the night. It appears to be just some air in the lines as after running the faucets for a while and getting some air out, it appears to be back to normal. The bilge pumps also decided to act up. They won't shut off(both the auto pump and the emergency pump)unless I turn them off at the main breaker box(not a smart idea when on passage). Looks like I'll be back down in the bilge later this morning.
Some that made it in with us last night have already left for the slog into La Paz to try and make it during the flood tide. Some of us are trying to recover before setting off early tomorrow morning. The tide hits its high by 0930 so we have some miles to cover before we put in at an anchorage to wait it out.
12/12/2009, Bahia Los Frailes
We're still "stuck" in Bahia Los Frailes(pronounced Fry-lays) by the big winds. We were in the 30 knot range through the evening and into the night. We had hoped to head North to Ensenada de Los Muertos(Cove of the Dead) if the wind had calmed down, but it did not. So here we sit and wait. There are a lot worse places to be "stuck". We do have to be in La Paz by next Sunday to get ready for our sons arrival.
Yesterday we were treated to a sight of manta rays jumping out of the water and doing belly flops back down. There were four to five at a time flying and splashing down. It appeared that they were herding a bigger school of fish of some sort around the bay. It went on for a good 20 minutes. It all started just after we returned from snorkeling around the reef close to shore near our bow. We saw an amazing assortment of all types of fish with colors so bright. Tracy saw a moray eel as it came out from the rocks below her. She quickly backed away from him. They have sharp teeth. As we swam along, I saw something shiny on the bottom(about 25 feet down) and headed down to get it. I found a nice fishing lure to add to our collection. The last time I saw something shiny on the bottom, it turned out to be a gold ring while we were sailing in the Virgin Islands a few years ago.
Earlier in the morning, I took Puff and Dragon and made trips to some of the other boats to see where they were headed and see if they were going to La Paz as to where they would be staying. Most appeared to be going to the Marina La Paz versus any of the others. I figure(once we get there)we will anchor and check at each marina to see what each has to offer. While we don't expect to be in a marina for an entire month, it never hurts to shop around.
Our friends on Arena showed up about 1430 after a good sail up the coast from Cabo. They got lucky and had wind from a direction that allowed them to sail where we had to motor North from the South cape. It was good to see them again. We stopped in to chat and meet the company(their kids)they had picked up while in Cabo. Having been here a few days, we clued them into the reef for snorkeling.
So, here we sit, dingy on board and stowed, all ready to go with a forecast for winds in the high 20's to mid 30's waiting for the calm to arrive.
12/12/2009, Bahia Los Frailes
We started today listening to Don Anderson's weather forecast on the SSB Amigo Net that broadcasts about 0700. His forecast is for big winds--20 to 25 knots building to 35 by tomorrow afternoon and all from the North, just the direction we need to go. I think we may be here for a few days.
We started cleaning up different area of the boat today and started with the sump under the shower stall and the filter all that water goes through before being pumped overboard. Can you say GROSS! We straightened out different area to just make Zephyr look a bit tighter as we go through the waves.
About noon, two folks(Dennis and Pam from Pamdemonium)came by to tell us they were putting together a pot luck party on shore about 1530 and would be calling around to see what everyone was bringing about 1400. Sound like fun and sure beats cleaning. Puff was quickly launched and Dragon added to get us to shore. We put on the wheels to make it easier to get up on the beach and decided to bake some ginger cookies. When the call went out at 1400, we were the only boat to suggest any kind of desert so that worked out fine.
About 1530, all the dingys around the bay--10 of us--headed for shore. In we came and up onto the sand. Our third beaching with no problems. Each time we get better. A quick walk down the shore meeting people from all over the world. A nice couple from Australia just heading down the coast from Vancouver Island. Another man just returning from Tahiti. Others from Marina del Rey and the list goes on. A wide group of people all brought together by being sailors. A fun evening of swapping stories and getting to know each other better. We'd met some before and some are now new friends. This is something that just doesn't happen back at home. Heck, if someone stopped by and ran the door bell, you probably wouldn't even answer the door. A few days ago, Dave from Idaho asked me if it was difficult meeting people out here. Heck no, it's easy!! We all have pretty much the same thing in common with different stories to tell.
About Sun down, the party broke up and we all headed back toward our dingys. We turned ours around(still on wheels) and took her back down to the surf line. The tide had come in and we were right at the surf line as it was. We push Puff out into the water and I started the engine(in neutral of course) and jumped in once we were far enough out as Tracy steadied Puff. I got her out a bit farther and suddenly, it became quite apparent that there was no way for Tracy to get on board. She was hanging on to the ropes along the side and getting dragged along as we slowly putt putted out. With no way to get on board, there wasn't much to do but keep going with her laughing most of the way out. It looked strange but with the Sun down, no one could see her. Before we left Los Angeles, I had purchased a boat ladder for just such a situation, but I'd never installed them. Care to guess what will be installed tomorrow morning? Anyway, we got back with no problems and rinsed off the salt water while on deck(we have one of those solar shower gizmos). We don't want to ever ring salt water below deck as it doesn't dry and makes the cabin floor very slippery.
It's now just after 1900 and we have settled in for a quiet night. The winds(forecast to be at 25 knots right now) had died to next to nothing. The stars are out and with no moon, it's gorgeous. Now we will see what tomorrow brings.
12/12/2009, Bahia Los Frailes
Well, we're getting closer to La Paz. We upped the anchor at 0500 for the 46 miles trip to Los Frailes. One of the few anchorages along the coast from Cab San Lucas to La Paz. The wind forecast was for them to be out of the Northeast at 10 to 15 knots. We found them at closer to 20 so up went the main with one reef and the forestaysail was put up and we rolled out just a bit of the Genoa. James, the Hydrovane took over and off we went. The little bit of the genoa was just to much so we rolled it back in. We were still making 6+ knots and in the direction we wanted to go. A while later, the winds died somewhat so we raised the main the entire way and rolled out the Genoa again and on we went. About noon, the winds died so in or down came the sails and the motor was started. As we rounded the South end of the Baja, the winds came back with a vengence. Up to 25 knots and then up to 35 knots and straight at us out of the North. We were getting plowed with winds far in excess of what had been forecast. The swells came at us at 8 to 10 feet and close together so we were flying up in the air and slamming into the troughs between the waves with water splashing down the deck and crashing onto the dodger. Without it, we would have been soaked. On we pushed making 2 to 3 knots. We finally pulled into Bahia Los Frailes about 1430 and dropped anchor amongst 10 other boats. Some we recognize from Cabo. They had left several days ago and apparently got stuck here due to the big winds. The DuoGen is having a field day whipping out the amps for the batteries.
So in we come to experience the beauty of the area? Heck no, I take off for below decks to change the oil. Having run the engine for a few hours, it was nice and hot and ready to be pumped out and replaced. While I was at it, I changed the oil in the injector pump since it was just about time for it's replacement. By 1700, I was done just as the Sun was about to set. Cruising is working on your boat in different locations We won't discuss Port Townsend or Seattle. Los Angles was the transmission and installing the SSB radio. San Diego was rounding up provisions and getting scuba diving equipment and having it serviced. Ensenada, Mexico--wait in line to check into Mexico. Cabo San Lucas--fix the hydraulic steering(still leaks a few drops every now and then. I'm going to replace the entire fitting assembly once we get to La Paz). But hey, the auto pilot worked just fine so there was really nothing wrong with it, just the hydraulic steering.
Oh, if you are planning to come cruising down South to Mexico and like saltine crackers--bring all you can stuff into your boat as a box of 4 tubes of them run close to $7.00!! Crackers are one of the things we eat while on passage so we need them on board. I paid over $20 for three boxes at the store. Costco doesn't carry them. Mexico crackers are nothing like crackers in the US. For the most part, they are quite tasteless.
Anyhow, the oil is now changed and depending on the weather forecast(if you can believe them) we may be off tomorrow. If it is still honking out there, we may have to wait a day so we don't get too beaten up. I'll let you know where we end up tomorrow. Have a great weekend.