01/18/2010, Caleta Candeleros Chico
Sorry I missed yesterdays post but there just didn't seem to be enough time in the day.
We started Monday taking a side trip in Puff to a small beach East of Agua Verde that is a decent place to anchor in times when Agua Verde is just too full. It's about a two mile trip so it wasn't that far by dingy. As it turns out, there wasn't a sign that anyone had ever been on the beach. There wasn't a single foot print or a collection of shell or stones piled up that we normally find on the beaches we have visited along our trip. This baby was pristine. There were shells all over the place and some of the biggest we have ever seen. Not only in size but in weight and thickness of shell. It was amazing. There were literally piles of these shell all over the place. I'll post some pictures when we have internet access in a few days.
We then putt putted over to see what the cruise books have called the Agua Verde Yacht Club. There was a building on one of the secluded coves that had been abandoned and it had officially(or unofficially) dubbed the Yacht Club. Well, not anymore. Now someone has moved in and it's now a house for a family from what we could tell. Oh well.
Next, over to visit the town of Agua Verde. A very nice and colorful town of numerous fishermen. The houses are all painted bright colors and it was fun just walking through this small village. We visited the small tienda(general store) and picked up some of their homemade Goat Cheese as well as a half dozen fresh(and I do mean fresh) eggs as well as a box of milk. The milk they sell in Mexico doesn't need refrigeration as long as it is in it's original box. It will normally keep for about 6 months. The brand we typically buy is Nutri Leche and comes in a one liter box. It's perfect for cruisers since it takes up very little space and can go anywhere. Plus--it tastes great. I like it better than what we used to get at home. Once we were done there, we ventured over to the local restaurant. It's was more like a persons home that just stuck a sign on the fence that said "Restaurant" and left it at that. The gate was partially open, so I walked in and in I'm sure very bad Spanish--are you open? The husband asked if we wanted something so eat. With our answer of yes, he went and got his wife and she came out of the house to take our order. OK--they had no menus so we had to sort of ask--again, in bad Spanish--"Any cervezas?" Nope--apparently, Agua Verde may be a "dry" town. We didn't see any sign of beer or alcohol anywhere in the village. OK, we went for the old standby--Coca Cola--yep, no problem there--room temperature but they had them. OK, we are getting closer--Tacos? Yes, as long as it is a fish taco you want. When in Rome--it's a fishing town, what did you expect to find--beef? Please keep in mind that the wife spoke no English and I last took Spanish in 9th grade!! We ordered four and settled in for a nice lunch. Over on the corner of the patio--also the restaurant was a bed made up of stretched straps woven together to make a mattress with a cat sleeping away in the shade. In the window behind me was the daughter--about 13 just staring out the window at us as we sat there. I never saw her but Tracy said she was in full makeup. She had a soap opera running on the television behind her. We were apparently more interesting than the TV show. The tacos showed up and were great. We have no idea what kind of fish it was--probably Dorado, but it was great on homemade tortillas with freshly cut up tomatoes, onions and a jalapeno. A spicy blend to be sure. Once we paid the bill, we walked back to Puff and took off for Zephyr.
Once back on Zephyr, we watched as cows and goats wandered and mooed and bleated as they walked along the shore. Add in the occasional crow of one of the local roosters and it seemed we were surrounded by farm animals. Later, we were visited by Susan and Ken from the only other boat in the anchorage. They are waiting for permission to visit the island of Socorro way down South. Apparently not something easy to get as they have been waiting for quite some time. We then settled in for a nice quiet evening planning where we would head out to next. We settled on Caleta Candeleros Chico, a small anchorage about 16 miles farther up the coast. A nice small cove relatively protected.
We upped the anchor and took off at 0800 for the short trip. As the wind was still blowing from the South and we wanted to go Northwest, it was going to make for a nice sail. I took off the mainsail cover so we would be ready. With the engine started, we headed out. The wind immediately shifted to out of the Northwest. Hey--go figure huh? The wind going against us? Again? So we unhappily motored along. A few miles later, Mother Nature took pity on us and she shifted the wind around until we could finally raise the sails and make our way towards our new anchorage. Slowly, the wind moved around until it was behind us. We raised the main and hoisted the forestaysail and all was well on Zephyr. About a mile short of Candelero Chico, we pulled the sails down and slowly motored into the cove. A lovely small cove and we were the only boat here. The cruising books all say it is good for one mid-size boat and we were lucky enough to be the one. This is our first cove that we actually have all to ourselves. It's what I have wanted to have since we started our cruise and so rarely gotten. Again, I will post pictures when we get back on the internet. Once the anchor was down(25 42.413N 111 12.936 W), we had a nice lunch and then stuck Puff in the water and I rowed ashore. It's not that big a place. I was going to do some hiking. Apparently there was a trail going to a beach at another bay a mile or so South or us. I pulled Puff up on the beach and took off. As I walked along the shore, I found several shark bodies along the beach. Boy--do these guys have teeth!!! Row after row of still very sharp teeth. I set them aside to take back so Tracy could see them.
Off on my hike and about a mile later, I came upon the beach down South. Pretty, but I'll take the beach we have right here. I did see a small patch of land all barb wired and fenced for some guy from Arizona. At least that is the area code for the phone number on the sign he has posted on his property. Now there is no water for miles around and no docks or really great beaches that make this place a great place to have a second home, so it seems strange to me that anyone would go to the time and trouble to not only buy this property but then fence it in. I guess it takes all kinds. So Raul O'Farrill, where ever you are, your fence looks great!
Back to Zephyr and I barbecued some of our last steaks from Costco. Oh, they were so nice and thick and tender. WIth a nice bottle of red wind and a nice pasta side dish, it was a really great dinner.
So here I sit catching you up on our last two days. Busy and fun and tomorrow, we may stay one more day. Another big storm--actually three big storms are making their way towards the Baja so we may have to head for Puerto Escondido for several days. It's a really safe harbor with a nice marina where we can rent a mooring ball till the storms pass. We will make that decision tomorrow as the first storm isn't due till Thursday sometime.
01/18/2010, Agua Verde
As the winds died over Saturday night and started the shift to start coming out of the South, we upped the anchor about 0730 on Sunday morning and headed out in just about calm seas. Pam Demonium was about 25 minutes ahead of us for the trip North on our next leg.
With the wind being so light, the motor kept us moving along at a good steady 6.5 to 7 knots, so we were buzzing right along. We thought we would stop at El Gato to look at their beautiful sandstone rock formations and perhaps spend the night--weather permitting. It's a much better anchorage for North winds though not tremendously protected from the wind. There are reefs on both sides of the inlet so we knew we would have to be careful getting in. One of our cruising guides(Gerry's) listed a waypoint to head in from. We put it in our Garmin chartplotter and motored in from that position at a heading of 220 degrees with no problem. The winds were still light but were slowly coming out of the South, so we decided to just make it a short stop and take some pictures from Zephyrs deck instead of launching Puff. With the winds from the South, we now knew we had to get to Agua Verde and it was another 18 miles down the channel.
A quick lunch and we followed our track in on our chartplotter back out, turned left and started the last leg of the day. Tracy remarked that it had been a while since we had seen any marine animals(birds don't count). Within 30 minutes, we were set upon by a large pod(not sure if that is the right term) of dolphins splashing in Zephyr's wake. They only stayed a few minutes as they were heading South to our North. Not 30 minutes later, we saw Blue Whales off our port and starboard side with water blasting from their blow holes. These kids are some of the largest whales in the ocean. They were a good 200 yards away and that was just fine. They were also heading South. Warmer water perhaps? The Sun was still bright and the day was nice and warm. Into the mid 70's with just a bit of wind from the South so all was fine.
We avoided the reefs and rocks at San Marcial and rounded the point and slowly headed into Agua Verde. A trip of about 44 miles and we were there about 1500 even with the short stop at El Gato. We'd made good time.
Agua Verde is split into basically three places to anchor. The West cove is good protection for winds from the North. The center is right off the main beach and has little protection from the North but is alright with winds from the South. And then there is the East cove that is good in South winds. With the winds forecast to be out of the South for the next few days, we planned to be in there. When we rounded the point, there were three other boats already at anchor but still room for at least one more without getting too crowded. We slowly glided through the cove and chose a spot and dropped the anchor(25 30.958N 111 03.799W). We put Zephyr in reverse and set the anchor with 150 feet of chain out in about 20 feet of water. We were ready for what even came our way. Pam Demonium showed up about 40 minutes later and checked out the center anchorage before coming over to join us. One of the three boats that had been in the cove upped his anchor shortly after we arrived and headed to the West cove(heaven only knows why) and Pam Deminium took his spot for the night. We settled in for a nice evening with clear skies for a good night to sit out and see all the stars. Delightful!!
Today, off to see the caves at Punta Ballena and play on the beach. It's a couple of miles but I'm sure Puff and Dragon are up to it. Once we come back, it's into "town" to see what they have to see. Supposedly, there is a small tienda(store) and a restaurant. I guess we will see.
Have a great Monday everyone.
01/13/2010, San Evaristo, Baja Calfornia Sur, Mexico
Ever since we started cruising in April of last year, we have carried cruising guides for all the places we have gone. How else do you know what to see and how to best get there. Word of mouth from other cruisers is a big help, but that only goes so far. We currently carry four cruising guides for the Sea of Cortez. We spent a great deal of yesterday reading them trying to figure out where we will go next.
Sea of Cortez Cruising Guide by Gerry Cunningham, copyright 2006
Charlie's Charts Western Coast of Mexico including Baja By Charles and Margo Wood, copyright 2009
Sea of Cortez, A Cruiser's Guidebook by Shawn Breeding and Heather Bansmer, copyright 2009 2nd edition
Mexico Boating Guide, The Captain Rains Guide, copyright 2006, updated November 2008
Each has it's own advantages and disadvantages. Gerry Cunningham's book has the most accurate GPS waypoints so far. As he was sailing in the Sea of Cortez, he posted himself at an anchorage and took settings on his GPS and waited until it has settled down to get the most accurate reading. If he lists a position as "GPSM", he has taken that reading. While his books are by far the most expensive--you do get numerous books, each covering a specific area of Cortez, plus leaflets with GPS coordinates, tide tables, and charts for specific areas.
Charlie's Charts and the Mexico Boating Guide cover the Pacific side as well as the Sea of Cortez while the other two only cover the Sea of Cortez. Gerry's guide book and Shawn Breeding & Heather Bansmer do a great job with the Sea of Cortez. It's a big area to do justice to and it takes lots of pages to do it right. Gerry's goes into the most detail since he has four books in his collection.
Now all this is fine and dandy, but many of the paper charts we carry are no rose as they were done by the U.S.S. Narragansett in 1873 & 1875. Yep, that's right. Many of the paper charts available are 137 years old!!! Some are newer--1927, and 1984. GPS wasn't around back then so they are still not the most accurate. The electronic charts we use--both Garmin and Nobeltec have put us on land in the majority of places we have anchored and the "charts" look like they were drawn by a 3'rd grader. That's using not only the GPS positions supplied by Gerry and Shawn, but our own from the GPS on board. That is one reason why we make it a rule to not go into a strange harbor(unless it is a wide open stretch of land) at night. OK, if there is a full moon, maybe. By far the best locating device on board your boat is your own two eyes. They rarely lie.
Our favorite book for the Sea of Cortez is Sea of Cortez, A Cruiser's Guide by Shawn Breeding and Heather Bansmer. They include aerial photos of the different bays and charts as well as information that more than any of the other books is up to date and accurate. We have found that copyright (as well as update) really matters little if they don't update the right information. Many times, we have found conflicting information between books. Some say that there is no fuel available at a particular harbor, yet the next book list the fuel dock and shows it on a chart. So far, Shawn and Heathers book has been the most accurate.
Now here is the big "BUT"!!! Each has it's own view and information about what they cover and each gives a different perspective to each town and harbor. We consult with each book before we go into each anchorage to see the different point of view. It can make a big difference on how we enter and where we drop the anchor.
The wind has continued to blow and the smallest boat (about 26 feet) just left the anchorage fr parts unknown. The weather forecast is for it to finally drop to a more manageable level b tomorrow and then surprisingly, shift to a South to Southwest wind by the 18th. That kind of wind will allow us to go straight up the Sea of Cortez not having to fight our way against the wind. We might actually get to sail for a change. Stay tuned, we'll keep you up to date as to how we are progressing.
01/13/2010, San Evaristo, Baja Calfornia Sur, Mexico
Yesterday(Thursday) dawned with Zephyr, as well as all the other boats in the anchorage facing Southwest instead of the North we had expected. This put at least one of the boats in our cove within 15 feet of the cliff on the East side. YOW!! That is to close for comfort. As it was, Pam Demonium that had pulled in beside us on Wednesday afternoon was but a short boat length behind us. I arose about 0530 when the wind started to blow and that is what I found as I went up on deck. One boat close to shore and another right off our stern. Needless to say, I sat in the cockpit watching till the Sun rose about 0709. Pam, from Pam Demonium, poked her head up on deck from time to time checking our position to make sure we were not drifting back on them(smart move). About mid-morning, the wind changed and we swung a bit more toward a more northerly direction. Pam called out asking if we would feel more comfortable with them moving a bit farther into the anchorage. Since we had dropped anchor first, "anchor protocol" calls for the last boat in has the burden to move. Tracy called out that "yes, we would feel better". She agreed to move once Dennis was up. Checking where they were and were we were, we decided that it would be easier for us to move just a bit farther West in the cove than for them to move East which would put them in deeper water and with not as good a holding. So, we upped our anchor about 0900 and moved about 25 yards to the West and dropped and set the anchor. Now we had good space between us. Always a good thing when the winds are forecast to blow. We now had 5 in our little cove and 4 in the western cove with the storm due during the morning.
I started on some projects as we sat waiting and watching. The vent tube from the stern head(that's a toilet for you landlubbers) appeared to be blocked. No air could escape(at least no easily) and that caused the tank to bulge and when flushing the next time, what had been flushed came back in as flush water. To say the head stunk was an understatement. I'd worked on the vent tube while we were in Pa Paz, but apparently it hadn't quite gotten cleared. I'd shoved a steel wire up the hole and that had helped. I flushed vinegar up the tube with a big syringe and that had cleared more but there was apparently some blockage left. I leant over the side between the netting and deck(thank God I've lost so much weight) and shoved the syringe back in the hole and pumped it full of vinegar again. The head appears to be working better so we will see if this has fixed the problem.
Puff, our dingy, has never been marked with identification so that was next on the list. I'd bought some vinyl letters while we were in San Diego and since we had Puff on deck in an upright position(stored for the night), it was easy to get the letters(I hadn't lost them yet), hold them against the tube and draw an outline around them and put on our documentation numbers(federal ID numbers issued for Zephyr) plus the number 1 to make it easy to identify Puff. Once the outline was done, I filled in the rest with Magic Marker to make them nice and bold. I'll go back today and add another layer so it last a bit longer. I made sure to do both sides to make it even easier to identify her. Now all we have to do is paint Dragon(her outboard motor)and then she will really stand out as we pass through any anchorage. It's not recommended to put your boat name on your dingy as that advertises to those on shore who in off their boat making it easier to go aboard and rob. I have seen many dingys marked with their boat name surprisingly.
Next, it was out with the glue we had bought in La Paz and time to reattach the handles on Puff that have ripped off over the past few months. It's a multi-step process. First, I had to sand the surface of the tube as well as the handle and apply a thin coating of the glue to each letting them sit for 30 minutes. Then on with a second coat that had to sit for 5 more minutes. Join the two and apply pressure(no instructions for how long) and the job was done. I press them on for a good 10 minutes so we will see how good the glue is. I figure to let it sit for all of today without pulling on the handles. We'd ripped the handle off the stern starboard side as well as one of the two attachments for the forward handle. Let's hope it works. It's tough enough to move poor Puff(she's a heavy girl)even with all her handles attached.
I headed into the engine room to change out the oil in the diesel injector pump. While the main oil in the engine only is required to be changed every 100 to 150 hours, this little stinker has to be changed every 50 hours. As I was just at 52 hours, now was the perfect time to get it done. It's a small gizmo on the side of the engine that measures and injects just the right amount of diesel into the engine cylinders. It only holds about 12 ounces so it's not that big a deal, it just takes a bit of time. Out with the old oil and in with the new and the job was done(at least for the next 50 hours or so).
The winds continued to blow and blow and blow. Our side of the cove was hitting in the low 20's so not too bad. The far side of the cove (about 150 yards away) was getting hit with winds in the high 30 knot range. The two boats that were over there(including the one that came so close to the rock the previous night) talked over the VHF radio and Stella Blue decided to move to the cove on the West side of the bay. Guinevere 1 had actually pulled in last but Stella Blue was going to move. I guess Guinevere 1 decided that that wasn't fair so they upped their anchor and move instead. We had already move once but with the wind blowing the way it was, we felt we were just a bit to close to the rocks along our shoreline. So at 1630, we upped our anchor and move along with Guinevere 1 to the West cove of the bay and dropped our hook just as the Sun was setting. Out at the islands, the sun sets about 1745 but once we were on the the shoreline of the Baja, it sets earlier since there are large mountains just inland of the cove. We were in for a blustery night. It's been blowing in the high 20 knot range off and on through the night with intermittent periods of calm. This morning, we were again facing the Southwest instead of the North until the wind shifted back around.
For those of you wondering why you would call your boat "1" instead of just Guinevere , here is your answer. Guinevere 1 is a Canadian boat and the regulations for Canada are that there can only be one boat for each name. There cannot be two boat named Guinevere registered in Canada. Hence, somewhere out there is Guinevere as well as Guinevere 1. You can have as many Zephyrs as you like in the US.
This morning, it dawned with lots of clouds and the wind still howling in the rigging. The forecast is for it to continue thorough out the day but be all gone by tomorrow. Meanwhile, we sit and get more odd jobs done or read or what ever. We could go ashore but since there isn't much here, there is really no reason to get soaked during the ride.
Until later, have a nice day.
01/13/2010, San Evaristo, Baja Calfornia Sur, Mexico
Well, we changed plans this morning and upped the anchor and headed for San Evaristo. No real reason other than we felt that it might be even better protected than Isla San Francisco. We were right up along the side of a cliff where any winds would go pretty much over Zephyr, but the wrap around of waves could have caused us some problems.
Of the fourteen boats that were there during the night, all but three(including us) were gone by 0800, scattered to the winds. Most were heading back to La Paz to wait out the storm that is coming. Plus, most had already paid for long term usage of a slip at the different marinas there and if you don't use them, well it's just money down the drain. That is one drawback to being in a marina. You've paid good money for a slip and you feel that you have to stay there rather than going out and staying somewhere for an extended period of time. You're sort of trapped by the "marina syndrome".
Anyway, we upped the anchor and headed out North(no wind this time) having breakfast as we motored toward San Evaristo. The weather forecast from Don Anderson(broadcast on SSB on the Amigo Net at 0720)the weather guru says that we should expect a "six engine freight train of weather" on Thursday morning through Friday afternoon all along the coast from San Francisco South to the tip of the Baja with winds down here hitting in the mid 30 knot range with waves to match. YUCK!!
Since it was only 9 miles and with no wind, we made great time and pulled in by 1000 and dropped the anchor(24 54 772 N 110 42.201 W) Another boat that was in Isla San Francisco with us arrived ahead of us and grabbed a spot. There are two little bays at San Evaristo with the North one being a bit more protected. There was already one boat in the North Bay and spaces were getting taken fast. Just after we arrived, Pam Demonium dingied over from the other bay and decided to join us since it appeared more protected. Some of the other boats that had been there the night before had left and they wanted in with us. Over they came and down went their anchor. Shortly after their arrival, another boat from Isla San Francisco also showed up. They had tried to sail up but when what wind there was died, they started their engine and motored in. We're now up to five boats and there isn't much room for more with out it getting really crowded. Another smaller boat showed up about an hour ago and anchored in the other bay along with another boat that had already been there.
I dove on the anchor ad made sure it was well dug in. While out there, I also dove on Pam Demonium's anchor. It's also well set for what is coming. Supposedly, the storm is supposed to be gone by late Friday so we will see how it goes. We want to go back to Isla San Francisco for a bit longer stay and do some hiking. For now, here we sit and here we stay, well protected and secure.
If you are coming South any time soon, it would be best to bring two Mexican flags that you are required to fly as the "courtesy" flag of your host nation. With the winds that we have experienced, one won't last long down here. So invest on a second one for when the first is shredded. It doesn't take long in good winds. Ours is being restitched as I type this by our resident stitcher. Our flag for the Seven Seas Cruising Association is also in a sorry state of tatters.
Well ,that 's about it for now. We'll let you know how the storm goes tomorrow.
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)