02/23/2010, San Juanico
We've been relaxing for the last few days. The winds are still with us with gusts into the high 20 knot range(down from the mid 30 knot range). Yesterday, we took advantage of a lull in the wind to head to the South beach of the bay early in the day while it was calmer. Puff and Dragon took us over with no problems.
What an incredible beach!! Beautiful sand and rocks to climb on. Not many shells but magnificent sand. We hiked all along the coast working on our burn(poor Tracy) and headed back to Zephyr after a wonderful morning on our own private stretch of beach. Not a soul nor foot print to tell us anyone had ever been there(yeah, right). Unfortunately, the winds had started up and the waves had come along with the wind to make the trip back lots of "fun". We got splashed and pounded by the waves. Water poured over the Puff's sides and started filling the floor boards. I'm glad we had an inflatable as a hard sided dingy would have had real problems staying afloat. It took a while to get back but we finally made it--soggy and sandy but fine. Zephyr was only about two miles away, but they were a LONG two miles. We rinsed off the salt water(solar shower) and dried off our clothes(salty) and had a late lunch and watched the other boats in the bay bob up and down in the waves and swells.
With the winds continuing from the North, three boats took off during the morning. Two headed South and one North(not the smartest thing to do). Two(heading South) wanted to take advantage of the wind and the third was heading for Pulpito, about 8 miles North of here. We've never stopped there but it is supposed to be a good anchorage though limited in its space. Since another boat left today(again for Pulpito) we are now down to 9 boats from a high of 16 a few days ago. The winds are supposed to swing around from the South tomorrow (like we actually believe them) and more will take off then as most are headed for Bahia Concepcion, 54 miles North of here. At least those that made it to Pulpito will save themselves 8 miles tomorrow though the one that left today ran into 25 knot winds and 5 foot waves on their way over(yuck). If the winds are good (out of the North) on Sunday, we will start our journey South back to Escondido and later La Paz for more parts and food and projects. I still have three hoses to connect for the water maker and we want to make covers for the jerry cans we have on deck for gasoline. The Sun is taking it's toll on the plastic. Plus, the stern head needs to be rebuilt. We bought it about a year ago and it is time for some servicing.
Meanwhile, the winds blow and the Sun is shining and we are just relaxing. I went ashore this morning for a hike along the crest line of the hills South of here. Amazing views of the area I'll get pictures up once we get proper internet connection.
With luck, the fun starts again on Sunday when we take off South again. More to see and more to do.
02/23/2010, San Juanico
We're stuck on board for the next day or so by high winds. It started about midnight with a slow blow from the North and continued to increase in speed through the night. We're into the 30+ knot range now with the forecast for winds to 45 knots--about 55mph by late this afternoon and evening. It's supposed to continue through the night and then shift to the East and Northeast tomorrow morning which may make this anchorage a rollie one while it lasts. We're exposed to the East, so if it swings around, we will feel the difference. By afternoonv tomorrow, back to a Northwest wind and back into the 30 knot range again. The DuoGen is spinning on the stern making lots of amps for the batteries but I still fired up the generator since we have used a good bit of our watt hours over the past two days. In a hour or so I'll shut it down.
Yesterday was full of hiking to the West of the shore. If you Google Earth our position, you will see a small "lake" to the West of the bay. We walked along a path on the North side of the "lake" inland a few miles. We ended up following animal paths instead of human paths since they had stopped as we trekked farther and farther inland. While I wore swim trunks to get ashore, they were certainly not the best thing to wear as we made our way through the brush. Both of us have got lots of scratches on our legs. We finally got to the head of the lake and crossed over and tried to make our way over to the unimproved road(boy is it unimproved)to walk back to the beach. It's the same "road" we walked the day before. Over several hills, scrambling up and down the rocky sides till we finally got to the "road". Along the way, we happened upon some fossils of scallops imbedded in the rocks. What made it even better was that the shells that made the impressions in the rocks were there, right beside the rocks they came from. I can't guess how old they were. These fossils were at least a mile from the shoreline. Signs that the Sea of Cortez was much larger than it is today. From the time we started the hike, we never saw another person. It's the back lands of Mexico out here. You see signs that someone owns the property, but no one lives any where near here. I don't think anyone has used the "road" in the last 15 years, at least. No four wheeler would make it through the culverts along the road.
We headed back to the beach to take Puff back to Zephyr for a late lunch. Well, not so late as we had started the hike early in the morning. Through the day, six boats left San Juanico for parts unknown. Half North and half South. The North group has to be headed for Bahia Concepcion while the South group has to be going to Escondido. Both well protected anchorages for the storm that was forecast for today. Early in the morning, we upped the anchor and moved to a better protected space that another boat(Hello World) had left. We knew the winds were coming and wanted to be tucked farther back in the cove. So if you check out our position, you will see that we have moved just slightly--maybe 300 yards. During the day, we picked up 5 more boats. All from the South. Phyllis and her husband Gary on Apolima pulled in late in the afternoon. These are two of the folks that we had partied with in Honeymoon Cove several days ago. They had spent the previous night at Ballandra like we had several days ago. A real nice couple. It's nice to see them again. With the anchorage being quite active with boats at anchor, the new boats had to drop their hooks much farther out and are getting blown around quite badly. One boat(Sea Story) that was anchored just to the East of us moved farther West into the anchorage a few minutes ago. I guess they think that they will be more protected in there. Not sure where they were is so bad. While we are rocking somewhat, where they dropped their anchor is a bit more open and may get more than what they had been experienced. We're a lot heavier than most of the boats in the anchorage so we don't rock so bad.
Being boat locked, I started another round of baking French bread. I'm back to the first recipe that I tried. It's available on the internet off the "Hello World" web blog. It's also available if you Google French bread and find a recipe by Linda Larsen as a "Classic Four Ingredient Bread Recipe". Give it at try. If I can do it, anyone can. It should be out of the oven by mid-afternoon.
We brought Puff back on board late yesterday afternoon and stowed her on deck under her tie down straps. Knowing what was coming helps. Monitoring the VHF radio here in San Juanico, the boats trade weather forecast to other boats that don't have SSB radios for downloading the information. Neighbor helping neighbor. That's how it is out here. Gary, off Apolima, rowed over late in the day to talk for a short time. We discussed the weather(as most cruisers do out here). He didn't really trust Don on the Amigo Net nor Geary on Sunrisa Net since neither is a "certified" weather person, but he pulled their dingy out of the water last night and stowed her on deck like we had. He may not "believe" them, but he took the forecast with a grain of salt and put his dingy away. I'm sure he is glad he did it now as it would be a lot harder to do in 30 knot winds.
Meanwhile, it's sunny and bright with just a few clouds East of here and blowing like stink and that's the way we can expect it for the next two days or so. I'll let you know if it changes(not much chance) Stay tuned for more.
02/23/2010, San Juanico
And the winds blew all day. We topped out at about 30 knots here i n the anchorage. It was much worse out in the Sea with lots of white caps rushing down the Sea of Cortez. Geary, one of the weather people we listen to, calls them "Buffaloes" since they look like a herd of them running down the water.
We had 16 boats tucked in here for the night. With the wind letting up today(only forecasted for 15 to 18 knots) five boats have already left heading South. Most with just a headsail up. Not much need for more than that. One big boat--an Island Trader--was getting really trashed out there before he headed South. A big boat above water but not much stability under water I guess. He was taking the winds over the last 30 hours the worst of any boat in the anchorage. It would not have been a pleasant time on board his boat. An easy way to discourage your spouse if they aren't truly into boating. Hold on for dear life.
We stayed on board and I baked a couple of loaves of French bread and the learned how to play cribbage. Tracy had learned years ago from her father and wanted me to learn. I, of course, won the first set. Beginners luck? It's an interesting game with lots of rules and point keeping. It should keep our minds working during lay ups in anchorages.
And that is about all I can say about yesterday. Sit in the cockpit, bake bread, watch the wind blow and check the anchor lines and the equipment on deck and play cribbage. Oh, eat too.
Today, with the wind lessening, we will head back a shore and do some more hiking. We need the exercising.
02/20/2010, San Juanico
We spent yesterday hiking and exploring shore side as more boats came into the anchorage. We ended up last night at 16 boats. It's the busiest place we have been other than a port. Three have already left this morning as a big blow is set to arrive later today or tomorrow morning. Winds back in the 35 knot range. That's well over 40mph. It should be fun.
We hiked up the hills around the bay and saw a lake behind one of the hills. We will be heading over there this morning once I get this post done. In the afternoon, we headed South in the bay and walked another beach that was made of what looked to be river rock, not sand. Lots of small caves to explore and while looking at the hill side, I saw what looked like roots of a tree running down the dirt side of the cliff. Upon closer examination, it turned out to be veins of quartz crystals made when the area was formed a LONG time ago. It was fascinating seeing how it ran up the cliff. We crawled in to the caves and marveled at the quiet. You couldn't hear wind blowing but you could hear the ocean waves crashing on shore.
We putt putted back in Puff to Zephyr and watched as more boats came and dropped their hooks. Some had changed their places during the day jockeying for a better place to be during the up coming blow. We may do the same this morning so we don't rock as bad from the swells that might roll in here during the blow.
We went to work on the batten on the mainsail I told you about yesterday. It had gotten loose from it's fitting on the mast. Well, when we lifted up the mainsail to reinstall it, we found that it was broken, not loose after all. That is one spare part we don't carry. So, I guess we will remove it from the sail until we get to La Paz and see of we can find a replacement. It won't make that much difference as we sail and we don't want what is left of the original to poke a hole in the sail material(expensive to repair). We covered the sail(protects it from the Sun)and will take out the batten the next time we uncover it in a few days before we move on again. Not sure when it got broken as that is not something that normally breaks and it doesn't get checked that often. It could have happened last sail or last month for all we know. Some of our battens are over ten feet long. That is why we don't carry spares--no room.
And that is about the way the day went. Not a lot of excitement but fun exploring.
02/20/2010, San Juanico
After a rolly night of the anchor alarm going off telling me(three times) that the anchor had dragged-it really hadn't, we had just swung at anchor, we upped the anchor and set off for San Juanico this morning. While we had been told that Porto Ballandra was supposed to be a great anchorage, we just didn't find it so. Sort of bland plus the winds and swells just rolled in from the channel making for an uncomfortable place to spend time. With that being said, off we went.
The forecast for the day, both from Geary on the Sunrisa net and the folks at Escondido were for winds in the morning out of the Southwest at 6 to 8 knots swinging around to the East in the afternoon and climbing to 10 to 12 knots. As we left Ballandra, we ran smack into 20 knot winds our of the West and 3-4 foot swells every 3-4 seconds. A powerful and bumpy ride. Once clear of the headlands, up went the main and up went the forestaysail. We even put a reef in the main(made it smaller by not putting it all up). With the waves smashing into the port side( I got a bit damp), on we went. With the reduced sail area, we were still doing 4.5 to 5.5 knots. Not too bad. Once we cleared Isla Coronados, the winds dropped to just about nothing. As the winds died, we rolled out the Genoa and while that helped, with the winds dying, we were slowly dropping to 0 knots. We slowly drifted in circles for a while. Slowly, the winds shifted out of the Northeast and off we went again. It slowly shifted to the East and then dyed all over again.
Time was passing and we really wanted to make it to San Juanico but could stop in Mangles, about 8 miles short. On we pressed, finally putting on the engine. We had it going for about an hour and suddenly, the winds returned. This time, back from the West again. With the forestaysail and main up, we took off at a good clip putting the starboard rail almost in the water. We were clicking off the miles. The winds stayed strong--back in the 30 knot range and from a good direction. Once we drew even with San Juanico, down came the sails and on came the motor and in we went and dropped the anchor(26 21.976N 111 25.909W) at 1630. I had time to bag the forestaysail as we entered the bay. While flaking the main on the boom, I found that one of the battens(long rods of fiberglass that hold the sail out) had come loose from its fitting on the sail slide. Tomorrow, I get to find out what happened and fix it. Shouldn't be hard, but has to be done as it could rip the mainsail(not good!).
We are having winds from the North tonight and we have tucked Zephyr in nicely so that there will be very little swell or wave action through the night. We should get a good night sleep for a change.
Surprisingly, there are 10 of us in the anchorage. Last time, there were only three and the first time w were here, maybe 7 so traffic here has increased. We recognize several boats we have met before. Most from Bahia Concepcion as well as Isla Pardita outside of La Paz. We will see how tomorrow shapes up for the socializing at this anchorage. Most cruisers are a friendly bunch that love to talk and party.
02/19/2010, Porto Ballandra, Isla Carmen
It was a REALLY slow sail today from Honeymoon Cove to Ballandra. We upped the anchor about 0930 and slowly motored out into the channel and hoisted the mainsail and rolled out the genoa. With the engine shut off, we SLOWLY headed North up the channel. The wind forecast had been for 6-8 knots from the South in the morning and 9-13 from the South in the afternoon. We, of course, were running into 6-8 knot winds from the Northeast--not the South as expected. We only had 15 miles to get to Ballandra but at just over 2 knots of speed(not much wind you see), we had a long day ahead of us.
About 1100, we hoisted the forestaysail to get as much momentum as we could out of the canvas that is available on Zephyr. While it didn't help much, any little bit helps. On we went, with no other boats in sight. A little jog here and a little jog there to take as much advantage of the available winds. It was strange not seeing any other boats out here as this is supposed to be the "high" season for this area. We've seen very few boats during our travels up and down the coast. No where near what we had expected. In Summer, it is too hot to sail here comfortably. At 110 degrees, I'm not looking forward to it. Heck, the water is in the 90's then.
On we pushed. Slowly making our way there. A small puff of wind and then calm. Another puff and then calm. Over and over it went. As we went, the wind(what there was of it) slowly shifted to more of and East wind so we could slowly point more toward our destination. We were bound and determined to sail all the way. We could have motored and been there in just over 2 hours, but where was the fun in that. We are a sailboat after all. The folks on Guenivere 1 make it a policy to sail as much as possible and just plan accordingly as to where they might end up at the end of a day. One place where they hope to end up and a place closer where they might end up. We have always set our sights on getting to one particular place and acted accordingly. We will try it their way for a while and will probably get in more sailing that way.
By 1530, we were about half a mile from Ballandra when the wind finally died. We could see lots of wind on the West side of the channel but next to nothing where we were. It was finally time to call it quits and take down the sails and head on in. We dropped the forestaysail and I bagged it on the bow. We typically keep it hanked on to the forestay so it can be put up quickly. We leave the spinnaker on deck also for the same reason. If it is out and handy, it will get used more regularly and they do. It beats hauling out the sails from down below decks where space is at a premium. In came the Genoa. Much easier with the Milwaukee drill to help. It spins that winch really well and rolls in the sail quickly. A great addition to the crew. Down came the main and on came the engine and in we headed. While Tracy steered, I tied the mainsail down to the boom to make sure it didn't get out of control on deck. We were set and tidy for making a good anchor drop.
As we motored into Ballandra, one of the three boats already at anchor, upped his and took off for the North side of the anchorage. Apparently a prime spot that he wanted and didn't want to have us take it. OK, fine, we dropped our anchor(26 01.138N 111 09.834W) and settled in. The swells(rolling waves) started hitting us just before we came into the anchorage. Right out of the West and right into the anchorage. Next came the winds--10 knots. Again, out of the West. As I said in yesterdays post, we plan our anchorages on where the wind is coming from. We had been led to believe that todays wind was going to come out of the South and we had planned accordingly. Well, not today. All the winds we had came out of the North, the Northeast and now out of the West. We were not where we should be for the night. If we had known where the winds would actually come from, we would have sailed to the opposite side of the island and dropped our hook there. It's now almost 2200 hours and it is still rolling into the anchorage. It may turn out to be a relatively unpleasant night. The winds have slowed but the swells have continued. If it is like this tomorrow, we will take off for San Juanico and blow this place off.
The kids and Tracy are a bit piqued due to the swells and rolling water under the hull. Not a pleasant way to spend the evening. We had dinner in the cockpit as it was much better for everyone. Being out at anchor, the kids aren't drooling at least, having gotten accustomed to the rolling of the boat. After awhile at a marina, they have to readjust all over again. We haven't been tied up to a marina since La Paz back in early January.
I guess we will see what the weather is tomorrow and make the call then. I'll let you know where we end up or if we are still here. Stay tuned.