01/12/2010, Isla San Francisco
We headed out about 0830 and headed North from Ensenada Grande for San Evaristo along the Baja coast. The winds were in the low 20s and the chop was kicking up to a good 3 to 4 feet with the occasional wild wave that really lifted us up and let us crash down in the trough between the waves with water flying all over the place. The Sun was long since up and brilliant on the water. Several sailboats and one small cruise ship passed us heading South along the coast. As we headed North, the tide was flowing out of the Sea of Cortez and with the winds against us, we were only making about 4 knots. I looked in our cruise books for Isla San Francisco, a small island along our route about 9 miles short of San Evaristo where we had planned to stop to wait out the up coming blow due on Thursday. It looked quite well protected so we thought we would stop in and check it out. It's quite a popular bay for boats heading North and South along the coast.
We got in about 1230 and found 10 other boats already at anchor having a nice time and saw people strolling along the nice white sandy beach and climbing the hillsides. We talked it over and slowly checked out the anchorage for a good spot. The cruising guides say to park your boat along the North cliffs so the winds that blow will pass right over your boat. We found a nice spot in about 18 feet and decided to drop the hook(24 49.265N 110 34.369W) and stay for a while. At the worst, if we hated it or found it uncomfortable, we could always move to San Evaristo on Wednesday and still beat the storm.
After a nice lunch of a BLT, we launched Puff along with Dragon and took off for shore. A couple of other sailboats arrived throughout the afternoon. We attached out dingy wheels incase it we needed them to get us up on the beach. As it turned out, the beach was deep enough at the waterline that we didn't need them. They actually made it harder to beach Puff. We took them off and pulled Puff up on shore. Our tide listing said that the tide was still going out(till 1800) so we weren't worried about leaving Puff right were she was. We hiked up and over to the other side of the island to explore what is known as Agate Beach due to the Agates found there(duh). It helps, I guess, to know what an agate looks like in order to find them. We did see lots of beautiful shells and coral along with a few birds.
We headed back about an hour later to find Puff just about at waterline. The water wasn't going out, it was coming in. If we had dawdled for another 30 minutes, poor Puff might have washed away from shore(really bad). We shoved her in the foot she was still above the waterline and climbed in. I was at the stern with the engine started while Tracy climbed in over the bow using the new ladder assembly that is made for inflatable boats from Latitiudes & Attitudes magazine. They fit over the inflatable tubes and tie to the lifting ring that is installed in the floor. The ladder extends right down into the water on a slide mechanism that allows the three steps(don't buy the two step model- too short) to extend under the water making it easy to get on board--well, easier. It's still not easy getting aboard a rolling inflatable boat. A slick way to get aboard a normally hard to board boat.
Once back at Zephyr, I put on my snorkel gear and jumped over the side and dove on our anchor to make sure it was set and set well. Yep, while it had dragged a bit until it was set, the anchor was dug in quite well. I'll be checking it again tomorrow to make sure it's still dug in with the blow scheduled for Thursday with winds in the 30 knot range if the forecasters are right. I guess time will tell.
For dinner, we had some of our first Mexican beef. Hamburger patties from City Club(like Costco). Supposedly Sirloin, but you couldn't tell by the look of the meat. They looked more like a beef paste than what we normally think hamburger should look like. A bit pale in color also. Oh well, with proper spices how could you go wrong. I topped mine with jalapenos and cheese along with a nice spicy "rub" that is normally used on steaks, while Tracy's was salted, peppered and coated with garlic powder. Adding some provolone cheese and she was set. While I got mine down, Tracy just couldn't get past the texture of the paste it not only looked like but tasted like. Not sure what we will do with the 14 burgers that are left, but you can be sure they will not go to waste.
Now that the Sun has gone down, the winds we had earlier have stopped and it is now nice and quiet outside. Tracy has already crashed for the night. Tomorrow, off to explore and get a few more tasks done on Zephyr(a work in progress)
01/10/2010, Marina Palmira, La Paz, Mexico
We will be leaving Marina Palmira this morning some time. Yesterday was spent doing some last minute provisioning at Soriana(like Walmart) and City Club(like Costco). We took the shuttle into town and then caught a "colectivo" bus to the stores. It only cost 16 pesos to get clear across town that way. We didn't get that much since we needed to take a taxi back(100 pesos) and there is only so much room aboard.
I did the laundry in the afternoon while Tracy cleaned up and stowed the stuff we bought aboard Zephyr. We filled the water tanks late in the day. Having a charcoal filter attached to the hose made it take a REALLY long time. Several hours to get it all taken care of.
This morning, I finished up the last of the laundry in one final load and took my last shower before we set out. We still have to do a scrub down of Zephyrs decks before we head out. The pelicans have made a mess of our decks and that stuff needs to go before we get out.
Anyhow, we are headed for Loretto farther up the coast but have no time agenda so I'l keep posting using the SSB so you will know what is happening as we move around the Sea of Cortes over the next few weeks. Other boaters that have come in here from the North complained about the cold up there. I'll take 45 degree nights and 75 degree days just fine.
So, while I didn't get the watermaker finished(close though), I will get it done while we are out(if I have all the right fittings). I am rethinking the "product" water (that's what they call the new water it makes) inlet to the tanks.
So stay tuned, as always there is more to come in our continuing adventures.
01/08/2010, Marina Palmira, La Paz, Mexico
I spent the last two days still working on the watermaker. Back and forth to town takes time when you have no car and can only go when the shuttle is scheduled and it only takes you in, it doesn't bring you back. So the option is to either get a cab or hike it. There are "Colectivo" buses that basically go up and down the streets like a city bus and collect people and drop them off around town. I haven't a clue as to what their routes are but I used them today and they got me at least part of the way back to the marina. I did get a taxi to take me the rest of the way to save time.
Yesterday was spent trying to make sense of the installation guide. Whoever wrote it didn't have a clue as to how to instruct a person who knows nothing about how to install a water maker on how to install a water maker. It shows a few pictures and a cryptic diagrams with changes depending on what page you are on as to how to lay out the installation. I've sent three emails to them over the last 5 days and finally heard back this afternoon(and only about the third email). So far, I've gotten lucky and have done it correctly. They do supply you with lots of hoses and fittings, but don't tell you what to do with the hoses and fitting. It never says "install the 5/8 inch hose to this fitting", it just shows a picture with dotted lines between the parts of the installation. It can be sort of hit and miss.
I got most of the lines between the parts installed yesterday. I did have to take some of the pieces off the wall and reinstall them as one picture showed them one way and another picture showed them another. Today was spent going back and forth to El Arco(local plumbing and hardware store) clear across town. The shuttle from the marina only takes you about 2/3s of the way in. The rest is hike or take the "collectivo" if one comes along. The first trip was to get more fittings and the second was to get the correct fittings and lots of 3/4 inch hose so I can connect the heads(toilets for you landlubbers) to the fresh water tanks once the water maker is installed. As we are off to the local "City Club"(like Costco) and Soriana(similar to Walmart) tomorrow, I don't think I will finish the installation by Sunday when we are planning to leave for the islands and farther North in the Sea of Cortes. If I have planned and diagrammed it right, I should have all the parts I need to complete it in the next few days once we are out in the islands. We've spent far to much time in the marinas over the last few weeks. It's time for us to move on. There is more to see out there.
So if we do leave here on Sunday, I'll keep posting but there will be no pictures for a while till I can get back on the internet. Sorry about that.
THe "furr people" are doing fine. Blue has managed to stay safely on board for quite some time. She used to be the kitty that jumped ship the fastest once we hit a marina, but she got scared while we were in Costa Baja after getting on the boat in the next slip and couldn't find a safe way back on board our boat when she got caught. Having a net around on the life lines is a two edges sword. It may keep them in, but it makes it difficult to get back on board when they get stupid and jump ship. Snowshoe just goes to the ladder and walks down(as ever, the cultured cat on Zephyr). Shadow is the smart one. He stays primarily below deck and eats and sleeps to his hearts content. Why jump ship when all the food and comfy places to sleep are right here?
Well, that's about it for now. More tomorrow before we set out on Sunday. have a great weekend.
01/08/2010, Ensenada Grande, Isla Partida
Well, we left La Paz Sunday morning about 1030 and headed North toward the islands looking for a place to spend the night. We worked our way up the West coast of Isla Espiritu Santo checking out the coves as we went. We'd thought of stopping at Bahia San Garbriel on the South edge of th island but thought it a bit to vulnerable to the North winds. Yeh, I know. North winds again and we can't sail North in North winds so we were forced to motor all the way. So on we went until we finally stopped at Ensenada El Cardonal on the Southwest side of Isla Partida(just North of Espiritu Santo) for the night. We were boat number three in the anchorage. There's lots of room for more, but now that it is past Christmas and the holidays, there are fewer boats out here. Many have already made the jump across the Sea of Cortez to Puerto Vallarta or Mazatlan where it is warmer. We dropped anchor(24 32.973N 110 23.207W) about 1530 and settled in for a quiet yet blustery night at least until the Sun went down. The wind died just after sundown. We laid out under the stars and wiled away(I snoozed every now and then) the evening. It was a moonless evening and the stars were out in their magnificence.
Today dawned calm and bright and we upped anchor and set off for Ensenada Grande. That's the same place we spent the night with Matt during his stay over Christmas. We wanted to be there early as we wanted to continue to Los Islotes, a small island a few miles North of Ensenada Grande. We launched Puff with Dragon and headed out. We took our masks, snorkels, and fins (plus a VHF radio incase of an emergency) and off we went. Now Los Islotes is a relatively bland place except for one thing. There is a huge colony of sea lions that live there and they swim with everyone that comes by. You can take an excursion boat from La Paz over and spend an hour of so swimming with them. We did it on our own, splashing through 3 foot wave in a small 9 foot dingy with a 8 horse outboard. Hey, life needs some excitement every now and then. When we arrived, there were already three other boats there with a couple of dozen folks in the water having fun. We put on our fins and masks and jumped in. The dingy was already surrounded by sea lions playing in the water.
We dove and the sea lions dove with us and played right along side of us. One came right up to my mask and we were face to face and I do mean face to face. He opened his mouth and showed me his teeth and tried to nibble at my mask hoping (I guess) that it was food for him. He came at me several times, each time looking me straight in the eyes. After a while, he took off for someone else to play with. There were fish by the thousands swimming in the rocks. Tour boats visit this island every day so the fish are used to having humans around and showed no fear of us. Tracy was at times totally surrounded by schools of different types of fish. It was an incredible time in the water.
After a hour or so, we climbed back in Puff and headed back to Zephyr. Once tied up, we had a pleasant lunch in the cockpit. Surprisingly, another boat had dropped his anchor just off our starboard side. Now here is this HUGE bay with three different coves that you can anchor in and they chooses to pull in right beside us, about fifty yards away(that's close in anchoring terms folks). Oh well.
Once finished with lunch, we jumped back in Puff and headed for the beach at the head of our little cove. We stopped Dragon about 50 feet off shore as it was shallow enough that the prop was about to hit the sandy bottom and pulled Puff into shore and up onto the beach. We walked and talked and had a great time on the beach exploring and finding new shells and coral to add to our small collection. Being on a boat limits you as to how much you can keep. There is only so much room. About 40 minutes later, the folks from the other boat came ashore and joined us. Nice folks that have sailed all over the Pacific. Based out of San Francisco and off on another voyage.
After a while, we decided to head back to Zephyr. I climbed aboard and we slowly made out way out to deeper water. Lo and behold, Dragon refused to start. Out came the oars and we slowly rowed back. About half way there, the blade on one of the oars came off and slowly floated off behind Puff. I made a mad grab for it and unfortunately, Tracy got shoved into Dragon(our Mercury outboard motor) bruising her ribs where she hit it. I did manage to save the oar blade though. So now Tracy is in a good bit of pain and having hurt my ribs a while back, I know she will be feeling a bit tender there for the next few weeks. Those little stinkers take a good bit of time to heal once they get bumped. We made it safely back to Zephyr and after some tinkering, Dragon sprang to life. I took him out for a short run to make sure he was running fine and then returned to Zephyr. Off came Dragon and up came Puff and both were stowed on deck ready for their next big adventure.
There is a large front heading for the Sea of Cortez that is due here Thursday with winds in the 30 knot range so we are off tomorrow for Punta San Evaristo, a protected bay about 28 miles North of Ensenada Grande. We will probably be hold up there for a few days as the storm passes and then head back down the coast for Isla San Fransicso with it's mangrove trees and coves. We'll let you know how the storm goes in a day or so. We want to make sure were are in a well protected place a day or so before the storm arrives. "Better safe than sorry" works for the two of us.
01/07/2010, Marina Palmira, La Paz, Mexico
And so it continues. The installation of watermaker is now in it's second day and going somewhat smoothly. I had to back out some of the wiring I did as it suddenly dawned on me that I have several hoses to run along with the wires(duh). So I pulled some of the wires out a few bulkheads until I had easier access to the area I was going to need to make more(and larger) holes in. Out came the saw and drills along with big bits and in I went. Several hours later, I had nice access holes drilled and sawed in panels so I could make the hose runs. Some of the areas were a bit tight, but I got them in. Of course, this was the time that Tracy came forward to see what I was doing and to lend a hand(hold back a hose for me) and made the comment "Why didn't you run the hose through here?" As is usual, she was right. If I had done what she suggested in the first place, I could have been done a good hour sooner. Oh well.
So once the holes were cut and drilled, we made the final electrical connections. I'd bought 35 feet of wire. I'd planned on buying 30 feet as it was less than a 23(measured with a tape measure)from electrical panel to where the installation was going to be. At the last moment, I decided to go with 35 just in case. I got lucky as when I was done with the wiring, I had less than 2 feet left!! I guess even a blind squirrel will find a nut occasionally. I added two pictures of the installation so far to the gallery. No hoses attached yet but you can see how we are doing. It's great that the unit is a modular construction so the parts can be installed in different places if need be.
I ran the electrical to a second switch so that I will have better control of the power during servicing(which is done regularly). I didn't want to have to go to the circuit panel and then forward to the watermaker. It will make the job much easier(I hope).
Installing the main pump became a chore as I bought bolts that were too short. It takes 6 to get the job done. I'd guessed at the thickness of the bulkhead(known as a wall to you landlubbers) and come up short. Two inch bolts didn't make it. So off to the Marina Store for more. Next size up--2.5 inch bolts. They worked on three of the holes but not the lower set of three as the bulkhead was thicker(extra wood paneling on the cabin side). Back to the Marina Store for 3 inch bolts and return the 2.5s. This time, I got lucky and in they went. We used large "fender" washers to distribute the load and cinched down the nuts and it was in. This pump weights quite a bit so we had to make sure everything was done perfect. Next the main pump with the charcoal filter and then the final filter on the unit. Everything was now installed--at least mechanically.
All we have left to do is run the hoses and make those connections. I figure to be at the main marine hardware store at least twice today picking up more bits and pieces.