03/01/2010, Porto Perico, Isla Carmen
We hopped into Puff and took off for Bahia Salinas. It's an old abandoned salt mining town about 2.5 miles from Porto Perico. They had massive flats set up to dry the salt water and make salt to export all over the world. It closed down back in the 1980's and the place has not withstood the test of time. Salt is a very powerful corrosive and it has done its work. Most of the metal things are almost unrecognizable as what they were. Carts and old cars as well as grinders and loaders just sit and rust away. Many of the buildings are still standing but the winds and sand have eaten a lot of the mortar away from the bricks and concrete block leaving a strange hollowed out look to the walls. There is virtually nothing left of the dock and you can see several sunken boats in the harbor and along the beach.
We arrived in mid morning understanding that the place was over seen by a caretaker and that he would let you explore the salt flats and the buildings. Not sure if we ran into the caretaker, but the man we met advised us that the salt flats were to dangerous to explore, but we could tour through all the buildings. Now how a piece of ground that is flat can be to dangerous to tour was a bit beyond us but it is his place and he is responsible for it and all that goes on. So, we turned around(we were on the road(clearly marked with signs) to the salt flats when he caught up with us) and headed back to the village compound. Most useable things were long since removed either by the company or the locals. From the windows to much of the roofs, to the floors and plumbing and electrical wiring is all gone. If this had been in the US, there is no way we would have been allowed to go anywhere near the buildings. To say they are in bad shape is an understatement. In the close to 30 years since they closed, Mother Nature had taken over and won against the work of man. It can't stand up to blowing wind and sand and water.
We walked the miles of beach along the shoreline seeing no one. The place is on the side(East) of Isla Carmen that few boats visit. We figured to be the only boat anywhere near here. We returned to Zephyr and stowed Dragon and hoisted Puff back on board. We plan on taking off tomorrow for Bahia San Marte. about 31 miles South of here. It is supposed to have decent protection from the North winds.
As we sat in the cockpit in the afternoon reading and planning our course for tomorrow, along comes another sail boat. A small boat with three people on board. It is one of the boats that gets rented out with a guide for people to explore the islands and coves. There are no cabins on board and they pull into a cove at night and roll out their sleeping bags and spend the night. Since they are normally on National Park property, they are not allowed to build fires so there isn't much to do once the Sun goes down. Now Porto Perico is a nice cove, but it is still relatively deep right up to the shoreline. No sandy beaches over here. These boats typically sail into the cove, drop their bow anchor and then row the stern of the boat toward shore and put out a second anchor on land to hold the boat in a safe position. Well, out went the bow anchor and the man at the oars rowed and rowed and rowed and couldn't get the stern of the boat to properly face the shore. After a while, and several tries, his wife jumped into the water(up to her arm pits) and pulls the boat ashore. I guess she had had enough and wanted to get ashore. With the water at 69 degrees and the wind blowing at a good 15 knots, I'm sure she was chilled to the bone quickly. Once ashore, they set up a small lean too with a tarp for some coverage and had a wonderful cold dinner(yum). The guys had to wade ashore too so I'm sure they got good and wet also. Not how I would want to spend my vacation.
About 1600, along comes another boat!!! A big catamaran! I thought this was supposed to be a place that few boats visited!! We have more boats in here tonight than there are in San Juanico. All those boats let yesterday. The catamaran(Limerick)sailed up the the Southwest coast of Isla Carmen so they must have come from the Escondido area around the South tip of Carmen and up the coast. Not a fun sail as all the winds(13-20 knots) were out of the North and Northeast and they would have to plow into them all the way up the coast.
Tomorrow, we expect to take off South for Bahia San Marte, a small indentation along the Baja Coast. Nice and protected(at least sort of) from the North winds that are due tomorrow. You can check it out--25 30.254N 111 01.030W at Google Earth. Zoom in and I would expect that someone has posted some pictures of the cove. Check out Puerto Los Gatos(25 18.200N 110 56.732W, we expect to be there in a few days. The sandstone formations are said to be incredible. We'd stopped in there for a lunch on our way North and now want to stay a bit longer(weather permitting) and see it better.
02/28/2010, Porto Perico, Isla Carmen
After 8 wonderful days in San Juanico, we left this morning in wonderful sunshine and good winds and headed South for Isla Carmen and Punta Perico on the southeast side of the island.
For the last few days, we have been sort of stuck in San Juanico as the winds crept up again. This time from the East and the Southeast straight into the anchorage with lots of swells making for a bit of an uncomfortable few hours during the day. The forecast for the day from Don Anderson(regarded as the man to talk to about weather in the Sea of Cortez)said nothing about any wind from the East or the Southeast. His forecast was from the North and West. At least one boat left heading out to take advantage of the unexpected East winds to head North as fast as they could. A smart move as these wind continued all day. About 1700, they shifted around from the West and the South and continued that way through the night. Not a lot of wind but enough to make the anchorage rock a bit.
We'd gotten in Puff and taken a short ride early in the morning to a small cove on the Northeast side of San Juanico to see it. Figuring it to be our last day, we wanted to see what it was like. Several of the houses on the hill have paths leading to the cove. Not much to see. No sandy beach, just lots of rocks. A very small place to even beach a boat. We did so and took a short walk along the shoreline. By the time we left, the winds had started their Easterly blow into the anchorage and we spent the rest of the day aboard Zephyr.
This morning, we listened to Don Anderson on the Amigo Net on our SSB to get his forecast to see if the day would be good to head out. He pretty much glossed over our area. At the end of the broadcast, they give a slot to radio in for a specific forecast for any particular area. I grabbed our microphone and called in. He is in Oxnard, California and he could hear my broadcast better than the man that manages the net much closer. We were broadcasting a strong signal. Don got on the radio and gave us a forecast of morning Northwest winds moderating to Northeasterly winds. Perfect to head South.
We uncovered the mainsail and took out the broken batten from the sail and stowed gear all over the boat and got ready. A quick breakfast in the cockpit and we were almost ready. As we sat there, another boat took off heading South. Another boat had already taken off some time around sun up. As we upped the anchor, another boat was bringing up theirs and followed us out. Apparently, several boats in the anchorage heard our forecast and decided to take advantage of it. About an hour later, a fifth boat followed the rest of us out all heading South. At least 5 boats left this morning and two more were going to leave this evening about 1800 for the crossing to the mainland. All in all, 7 of the 8 boats left in the bay were heading out in one day. That left just one power boater all to himself and he can go anytime. He doesn't have to rely on the wind to get places.
Of the 5 of us that were headed South, 4 were going to Escondido. We planned on seeing Isla Carmen and the few anchorages that we had missed on our trip North. The winds we got as we headed out were from the Southwest till about noon when they shifted to the Northeast and moderated(dropped to zero for a while) to between 5 to 10 knots. We had all the sails up doing their job. We'd started with the big Genoa at the bow and then added the Main shortly. Finally, we put up the Forestaysail. If it could fly, it was flying. No room for the spinnaker. The three boats we could see stayed close to the coast making their way South. We took off away from the rest and headed out away from land toward Isla Carmen.
It was a great sail. The sails needed continual adjustment(fun) as the winds changed direction and speed. Tracy sat on the stern(working on her tan at the same time) and directed our Hydrovane(steers the boat with wind power and not battery power). I sat in the cockpit and adjusted the sails and the wheel slightly to make sure we got the most out of what we had up. From time to time, I would go forward to check the sails to make sure they were set right. You can't see them all from the cockpit. We'd left at 0830 and finally pulled into Punta Perico(25 58.251N 111 04.528W) on Isla Carmen about 1700 after covering 36.5 miles, just about all of it under sail. We maxed our speed to 7.9 knots in the winds as they hit the high teens every once and a while. Most of the day was at about 4.5 knots. James(our Hydrovane) worked hard for us today with some timely adjustments to correct the course as the winds shifted.
Tomorrow, over to Bahia Salinas(next cove West of us) to visit a deserted salt mines. Pictures in some of the cruise books show some amazing salt crystals just laying around. It's been deserted for quite some time. A day or so here and then head South as the winds permits. We plan to use the sails as much as possible. We're tired of motoring when we don't have to. The prevailing winds this time of year are out of th Northwest and we want to use them if at all possible. The sailing today was great and we want to enjoy more days like today. We'll let you know what we find in the salt mines.
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.