03/08/2010, Isla San Francisco
We took off yesterday to walk the ridge crest trail just Southeast of the cove. If you check our longitude and latitude in Google Earth, I'm sure you can see the trail at the top of the range just to our South. It's a very popular trail walked my many thousands of people each year. This cove on Isla San Francisco is one of the most popular in the area as it is well protected and is near to La Paz, one of the main metro areas along the Baja Coast. We expect to be headed there in a week or so after a few more stops along the way. Once I regain access to the internet, I'll be posting lots of pictures for all to see.
As we walked the trail(steep on one side and a shear cliff on the other), more boat came and left the cove as people wanted to make some time in the winds. Most though, didn't even put up their sails. We talked to another cruiser as we came back to Zephyr after our walk to see if he had heard the weather since our connection was so bad. He had, but it was a toss up as to where the wind was actually going to be coming from. The previous night, it had come over the pass and out of the Northeast. Last night, it came out of the West putting us on a lee shore. That's when the stern of your boat faces the shore. If the winds pick up and your anchor drags, you could easily end up with your boat aground(not a good thing). As we were talking to the guy, he brought up one of the boaters that was anchored in the cove. This guy was on one of the charter boats from the Moorings I had talked about yesterday. It appeared to be the same boat we had passed as we came South with our spinnaker out the day before. He claimed that he had face waves of 10 feet on his way North the previous day!! Say what? I'm not sure the last time there has been 10 foot waves in the Sea of Cortez, but not often and not normally this close to land. Maybe out in the middle, 35 miles from shore. Besides, we had been out in the same weather and they might have been 4 feet max. If you are headed into them(as he was), they can seem much bigger. We've yet to see one of the boats from the Moorings with their sails up(we have two in the cove right now). For what they cost, you can't afford to take it the slow way (sailing) out here. You want to see as much as you can and motoring is the fastest way to do it. What a shame!! They are missing some great sailing days.
We came back to Zephyr and spent the afternoon watching other boats come in and jockey for a space in the cove. Each wanted the best space, but that is normally dictated by the wind and weather. This morning, about half the boat left. Some headed North and most headed South back to La Paz. We will be heading for Isla Partida tomorrow for a few days and then into La Paz for provisioning and fixing a few more things that have broken or are being installed. We found that the rigging that goes to the underside of the first set of spreaders is looser than it should be, so we will be tightening them up when we get into town.
Once some of the boats left, two boats that were in the Southeast most part of the cove upped their anchor and came over to the Northwest side for a better space if the winds continue to grow. We couldn't hear the local weather forecast from Geary on the Sunrisa Net, so we decided to up our anchor and join them. We were located about in the middle of the anchorage so, for us, it was a short trip. We're now anchored under the rock cliff we had originally been anchored under during our first time here. It should give us some decent protection from winds from all but the Southwest. Let's hope none comes from that direction in the next 24 hours.
I tightened the belt on the alternator this morning and got it up to 14.1 for a short time when I started the engine. During our move, it crested about 13.7 so that's not too bad. We'll see what she does tomorrow as we leave the cove and head farther South. At least it is generating electricity which is better than not generating any at all. I'm going after the tank in the stern head this afternoon. It appears that the vent on top is clogged and not allowing air out as you pump the toilet after use making it a big balloon full of bad gas. The effect of it is that that gas then pushes the bad smelly stuff back into the toilet instead of keeping it in the tank. YUCK!! With luck, I'll be able to fix it with out having to take the tank all the way out. If it comes to that, I'll do that job in La Paz where at least, I'll have the availability of repair parts if necessary. I'll soon know for sure what the problem is.
That's about it for now. We're a few hundred yards from where we started and all set with the anchor down.
03/08/2010, Isla San Francisco
Wow, what a day for a sail. It started out slow with just a breath of wind. But first, we had to get out of the anchorage. We upped the anchor a 0750 and started out of el Gato. Right away we ran into a problem. The house alternator started acting up again. I had changed the belt yesterday afternoon and when I had started the engine(yesterday) it had read 14.2 volts on the volt meter. This time, it came on at 13.3 to 13.5 volts and wouldn't get above it. I went below and opened the engine room door to a puff of smoke. We had a problem!! I told Tracy to shut down the engine so I could check out the situation. I checked the new belt and found it a bit loose, so I re-tightened it all over again thinking that it may have worked itself loose. Even tight, it would only get up to 13.6 at the highest. Normal is 14.2 volts during the initial charge. Oh well, at least it stopped smoking after I tightened the belt the second time. If you have any thoughts as to why it is doing what it is doing--putting out less volts than it should, please send me an email (WDE4653 @sailmail.com). I'd love to hear your thoughts. I'm a bit stuck but plan on taking my voltmeter to it tomorrow to see what it is actually making at the source.
The wind was freshening so up went the sails--main, genoa and forestaysail and off we went, heading South for either Evaristo(if we ran out of time) or Isla San Francisco. We'd been to both on our trip up so no big surprises were in store for us no matter where we ended up. The wind was up to about 7 knots coming at us from the stern port quarter(that's the rear left side of the boat for you landlubbers). Even with all that canvas up, we were not making much headway. So, since the wind was from behind us, we decided to put up our spinnaker sail. In came the genoa and down came the forestaysail. I raised the spinnaker but didn't put up on the sock it is enclosed in. Down came the mainsail and we were ready to pop the big girl. Up went the sock and boom, out she went in all her glory. She is made up of all the colors of the rainbow in big vertical and horizontal stripes. We took off, climbing to 4.5 to 5 knots. We had been doing just 2 knots with all the previous sails up. We engaged James(our Hydrovane steering system) and let him do most of the work. Tracy was at the wheel(where she belongs) while I was out on deck playing with the sails(up and down and all around). We just kept on heading South with not a boat in sight. We didn't see another boat(2 actually) till a pair of shrimpers came past us early in the afternoon. Since they fish at night, their day was over already. As we reached Isla San Jose, the winds started to grow into the mid teens and our speed started to increase. Into the mid 5 to 6 knot range. On we pressed having a great time. I'd laid in a route for us to follow that would take us the shortest route to get to our new anchorage. We realized that we were going to end up too close to Isla San Jose so we were going to need to reset the spinnaker. We had to gibe the sail. I had to disengage all the lines to the sail at the bow, and physically pull it around the bow and reset all the hardware and lines necessary to let it fly. We've use the sail so much recently, that I've gotten much better at changing the sail orientation. It took just a few minutes to get her set. Meanwhile, we were toodling South under bare pole(no sails at all) and still doing 3.5 knots. The winds were growing now that we were between Isla San Jose and the Baja. This time, when I pulled up the sock, it jammed. The sail was bunched inside the sock and didn't want to come out to play. I hauled the sock back down and after a few tries, I finally got it to go up and allow the sail to pop open again. Unfortunately, as the sock took off for the top of the sail, the ropes that control it went so fast that they burned one of my fingers and even burned a hole in my leather sailing glove. That rope can get hot, let me tell you. Even with the rope burning my hand, I refused to let go as that would have made a big problem later getting the sail back down. The wind was now in the mid 20 knot range with gusts into the mid 30 knots. We were flying, eventually hitting 8.9 knots!! For a boat this size, that is really fast!. Much faster than Zephyr is meant to go. The spinnaker was being pushed to the max, swinging around the bow back and forth as the wind shifted and Zephyr repeatedly changed course with the pull of the sail and Tracy kept us on our course. We blew right past Evaristo in all our glory. Not that many boats will fly a spinnaker, let alone in the winds we were in today. We were lucky we didn't rip the sail wide open with the winds we were in. Another sailboat passed us heading North getting slammed by the waves. She was really getting punched and was going up into the air and slamming down into the water. Not a fun ride. We could tell by looking at the boat that she was a rental from the Moorings company. You rent their sail boats (for LOTS of money) and then sail(or motor) around for a week or so. Many of their charters can easily run $9,000 for a week! Evaristo was full of boats(even a big tourist boat and a mega yacht) waiting for the big blow that was scheduled for tomorrow(it came today instead). We were skirting the western shore of the channel hoping to not run aground as there are lots of rocks just off shore South of Evaristo. I was at the bow getting ready to pop the lines holding the spinnaker when our depth came up to 6 feet. Bang went the line and down came the sock. I let it just stay up in the air like a giant snake blowing around Zephyrs bow. I returned to the cockpit and we rolled out our genoa sail. We turned to port(left) and headed over toward Isla San Francisco, about 4.5 miles away. Even with just the genoa out, we were hitting over 6 knots. The swells and wave were not impressed and slammed into Zephyrs port side time after time. We had sailed down the channel with the waves going with us and now we were cutting across them and they were not happy about it.
Once we neared the cove at Isla San Francisco, we started the engine and turned into the wind and started rolling in the genoa. Here is where a problem cropped up. The spinnaker was still up. As we rolled in the genoa, it started to roll in the spinnaker with it. The genoa was not happy and was about to jam. We stopped and reversed what we had done. We rolled out the genoa again. I ran forward and undid the line that holds up the spinnaker and pulled it down to the deck as fast as I could. The winds were still in the high 20 knot range and we were getting pounded. I let the spinnaker just sit on the deck(hoping it didn't fall overboard) and took off for the cockpit. Tracy had brought the bow(pointy end of the boat) into the wind and now we had to get it back so Zephyr could fall off the wind. The genoa was on the wrong side of the boat and the wind wanted to keep it there. Tracy gunned the engine and we SLOWLY changed course and finally the genoa sail was on the right side of the boat. We used our big Milwaukee drill with the winches and in came the genoa. We were set and with out a sail up and could motor the last few yards into the anchorage. There were 10 other boats spread out in the anchorage getting blown by winds over the pass to the other side of the island. The wind was now out of the East instead of the North as it had been all day. We picked a space that was empty and dropped our anchor in about 15 feet of water(24 49.237N 110 34.125W). We were in! It was just after 1600 and we had covered 39.4 miles since 0750 this morning. Nine hours of sailing to cover 39.4 miles. Some of it slow(obviously) and a lot of it faster than we should have. We spent the better part of the next hour cleaning up the mess on Zephyrs deck. Sails, lines and assorted equipment all had to be stowed. We'd used a lot equipment to get to Isla San Francisco and it all had to be put away. Once everything was stowed, we took off for below decks for a much needed and anticipated shower. We worked up a lot of sweat during the day plus we were covered in grit that had blown all over the place by the winds.
The winds have died some but are still making the DuoGen's blade go round and round. Tomorrow, off to the beach for more exploring and hikes.
03/05/2010, Puerto el Gato
Yesterday was spent just passing time aboard Zephyr. It was overcast and windy plus a chill was in the air. Just about everyone stayed aboard their boats. A few ventured ashore to do some exploring but most stayed right where they were. The one lone powerboat(Dark Side) took off about mid morning heading North for Agua Verde. We hit there on our trip North a while ago. As they left, a sailboat(Juce) radioed them to see the conditions and availability of space in the cove as they were headed South. The Dark Side clued them in on what to expect. I radioed them once Dark Side was done and let them know where the space was that had been left by Dark Side. Another sailboat was headed in a ways out for el Gato also. We were going to get even busier. We ended up the night with seven boats in the anchorage. The last one in, dropped his hook on the far Southwest side of the cove far away from everyone.
Early in the afternoon, one of the pangas(local fishing boats) finally stopped by. They were selling fresh caught lobsters. At 250 peso(about $19.50) for two kilos(4.4 pounds) we got a good deal(five lobsters). Later in the day, a second panga came into the bay and stopped by to take orders for delivery on Sunday(today). We ordered two more kilos. The rest of the boats passed on his offer. He was selling them at 100 pesos per kilo. We worked out the deal in broken Spanish(our side) and broken English(his side) and everyone came out happy. It took some big tin snips to cut the shells, but we had a great dinner with the ones we bought from the first panga fishermen.
Today dawned nice and bright with boat after boat taking off for for either Agua Verde up North of Evaristo down South. We still wanted to see el Gato, so in the end, we were the only boat left in the anchorage. After the last boat left, we decided to up our anchor and move to a more protected space in the cove. Another boat had anchored there the night before. Up came the anchor and over we went. Down went the anchor and it would not bite anywhere we tried and we tried to set it in several places. In the end, we motored back to where we had started and reset the anchor. During the move, Tracy noticed that something was wrong with one of the alternators. The one that keeps the instruments(house bank of batteries) charged wasn't coming up to the normal charge level of 14.2 volts. It's the same one that blew when we were North of Ketchikan, Alaska. Once we were anchored, I poked my head in the engine room and checked to make sure it was running. To find that out, you put a screwdriver against the back of it. It there is a strong magnetic field there then it is working. It was working alright, just not putting out the right amount of volts. Once the engine was stopped, I check the belt and found them not only loose, but in very bad condition(lots of belt chips down under the engine). It probably would have broken in a day or so. We'd installed new ones when we replaced the alternators in Port Townsend back in September of 2008. They've gotten lots of use since then. Up to Alaska and now down to Mexico. As a good cruiser, I keep spares on board and grabbed one. I placed it on my list of things to get(more spares) when we are back in the US this Summer. Since I was in there, I changed out the oil in the diesel injector pump while I was at it. Same door, same place. All in all, about a hours worth of labor.
We took Puff ashore to explore the incredible sandstone bluffs. This cove was found over 20 years ago but kept as a secret by the person that found it so it wouldn't get disturbed by visitors. That lasted a good 13 years until the secret got out. Now it's a special place for boaters to visit. There are no roads to this place.
Just before we went ashore, the panga fisherman(from yesterday) showed up with our lobsters. Two kilos for 200 pesos. A even better buy than the day before. These were so fresh that they were alive when he handed them to us. I later got to cut off their tails. Did you know that lobster scream? I didn't but I do now. It was really creepy listening to them as I killed them. My Mother always dunked hers in boiling water to cook them and they were alive when she did that. Gee, what fun(not) it will be to club fish to death once we catch them.
The winds started the day out of the West and slowly shifted around to the East. The swells have been coming in from the East all day making it a very rocky place. That is one reason all the boats left this morning. Some had had a bad night. We expect to be off tomorrow morning early as a new Norther is due by late Monday or Tuesday morning and we don't want to be here when it arrives. We plan to head for either Evaristo or the cove at the South end of Isla San Francisco. Both give good protection from North winds. Isla San Francisco is about 36 miles farther down the coast so we will be getting an early start tomorrow morning. I'll let you know where we end up.
03/02/2010, Puerto el Gato
We upped the anchor this morning and headed out past anchored shrimp boats. There were three in the cove just South of us. As soon as we left the cove, we hoisted all the sails--main, genoa and forestaysail. The winds were light but at least they were from the North or Northwest so we could make headway down the coast. There was not a lot of wind--maybe 8 knots to start which later dropped to 5 knots or so but on we pressed. We passed the beautiful Gigante Mountain range as we pushed South. An amazing creation of nature that amazes us each time we see it. We left about 0935, so we had all day to cover the 12 miles to el Gato. No reason to rush.
I had a nice lunch of pulled beef in tortillas with salsa while Tracy had smoked oysters on crackers. I figured to pass on the oysters since it has become clear that I am allergic to them. I vividly remember what I went through the last time I had them.--Pass!!! After lunch, I went around the deck tightening the life lines. I had checked them a few days ago and thought they were a bit too loose for comfort. A couple of wrenches and a pair of pliers(why are pliers always in pairs?)and the job was done. Now there is no where near the flex and give that they had. I'm not sure how tight they are supposed to be, but ours are nice and tight.
When we were about a mile North of el Gato, we heard a conversation on our VHF radio(always monitor channel 16) between two boat headed North toward el Gato. The gist of their conversation was that they hoped that there was enough room in the cove for everyone. El Gato isn't that big an anchorage. How many boats were headed here? We looked off our bow and there was yet another boat obviously headed for el Gato also. Well, the rush was on!!! We dropped the forestaysail and rolled in the genoa. Started the engine and took off for the anchorage. As we rounded the North point, there was a power boat in the North part(most protected)of the anchorage. Rats!! At least one boat beat us in. We finally dropped the mainsail just outside the cove and motored in about 20 minutes before the other boat. Down went the anchor(25 18.165N 110 56.765W) about 1420. We had our spot in 12 feet of water. A nice sandy bottom made the anchor bite in real well. A few minutes late, we saw two more sailboats headed North for el Gato. This place was going to be busy for the night.
As we waited for the other boats to join us, along comes a panga(small local fishing boat) trying to sell his fish. He stops at the other sailboat, then goes to the powerboat and then goes to shore. HEY---what about us?? Do we smell or something(well maybe)? About 15 minutes later, out he comes again--back to the other sailboat!!! He never bothered to come by our boat and we would have bought his fish. We've been waiting for some fishermen to come to our boat to sell their fish. Heck, all we ever caught was a shark a long time ago! The other boat traded him ball caps, cokes and money for his fish. Since he has set up a camp on shore, maybe we will visit him tomorrow and see what he has to sell. We'd love some local shrimp or lobster(just no oysters or clams please).
We expect to be here for a few days or so depending on the up coming weather. One of the other boats at anchor was talking about a "Norther" due here on Tuesday. I'm not sure where she got her forecast as neither Don Anderson on the Amigo Net nor Geary on the Sunrisa net give forecasts out past 36 hours. Nothing I have downloaded tells anything about any upcoming storm. That's a few days out, so we will see what the weather gurus say in a few days.
We've already launched Puff and Dragon and will be taking some hikes around shore tomorrow. It is supposed to have some amazing sandstone formations. A separate task over the next day or so is to refine our reefing system on the mainsail. Our mainsail comes with three reefing points--positions for making the sail smaller on the mast. You hook the forward edge of the sail to rings on the boom and then pull the sail up again only a smaller portion goes up instead of the entire sail. When the wind is blowing and you have to do this in really nasty conditions(or at night), it pays to know how much line you have to pull up to make the sail tight along the mast. Tomorrow, we plan to put the sail up in each of its positions and mark the lines that hoist the sail with marker. We will also mark the line that pulls the foot of the sail out and keeps it tight. This way, when we need to reef the sail in really nasty conditions, we will know when the stop pulling on the line. Tracy normally pulls up on the line that hoists the mainsail and stops when I tell her to. With the lines marked with colored line at the appropriate locations, she will know automatically when to stop pulling the line. When we reef, one of my tasks at the mast is to pull in on the lines that holds the foot of the sail tight during the reefing while Tracy pulls up on the main hoist. Well, these lines will also get marked so I will know when to stop pulling on those. I typically use a winch to tighten mine and I'm afraid that if I pull too much, I might rip the sail. There is no way for me to tell from my position at the mast, how much to pull the line without getting up and going to the end of the boom and looking. If I mark the lines, I'll have the knowledge of how much to pull and when to stop. It will make reefing the mainsail much easier and safer.
That's about it for now. I'll let you know now tomorrows project and hikes go.
03/02/2010, Ensenada La Ballena
Boy, it was a tough move this morning from Bahia San Marte to Ensenada La Ballena. All of 2 miles. When we took Puff around a day or so ago, we decided that we thought La Ballena looked prettier so we decided to move. It's still protected from North winds so we knew we would be ok there.
Yesterday, we made plans to have a bonfire on the shore at San Marte. To make sure we had enough wood, we visited other beaches and collected all the wood we could as there didn't appear to be much at San Marte. We filled Puff with all sizes of wood, from big logs to small twigs. Once ashore at San Marte, we piled them beside a fire ring that some one had made a long time ago. Since there was a burn barrel there also, we made plans to take our trash in and burn it. As you cruise, there are some things that you can throw over board and some things that you can't. Any form of plastic is a no no. It has to be burned. Aluminum cans can go over board as long as you punch enough holes in them so they will sink and you dispose of them in very deep water. We try for 1,000 feet deep. Not a hard depth to find in the Sea of Cortez. I took the trash in early in the afternoon and got rid of it. Afterwards, I hike up the hills to the top of the bluffs and took in the views.
Now all the tour books say that San Marte is a seldom visited anchorage as it is so close to Agua Verde. Not while we were there. The night we arrived, we did have the anchorage to ourselves. Yesterday, we were joined by a cruiser that we had seen in Escondido-- AirOps. He pulled in behind us. An hour later, Nordic V showed up from down South. They had motored all the way since what winds that they had had come from the North. They anchored between AirOps and us. We were filling the anchorage. So much for a place to ourselves.
We motored ashore to have our bonfire and cook dinner and since the other cruisers were ashore exploring, we invited them to join us. The folks from AirOps declined and returned to their boat. The folks from Nordic V stopped by and we chatted and filled them in on what to expect at Escondido. The ins and outs. They dropped off some fire wood but declined our offer of the bonfire. We'd brought along bratwurst and canned corn to cook and heat on the fire. We keep a small grill on board that we can take ashore to use. I'd setup the fire pit so it fit perfectly. Tracy made sure we had all the proper utensils that I needed to cook with. As we sat there cooking, suddenly we were surprised by a pelican waddling up from the shoreline to join us. He discretely plunked himself down about 6 feet from us and just stared. We have no clue as to what he wanted but he stayed there for well over an hour before getting up and waddling back to the shoreline. I have to admit, we were both very surprised by his actions. Since when do pelicans attend bonfires? We sat on discarded pieces of plywood and part of the deck of some ones boat that had washed ashore. A jug of cheap wine completed the affair. We cooked and drank and talked the night away. There were other people out there but we couldn't see them so they didn't exist as far as we were concerned. As we launched Puff off the beach, Tracy ceremoniously fell into the water. Hey, alcohol will do that to your balance.(Tracy's note--"This is Bill's version") By 0730 this morning, Nordic V was gone. Off to see the sights of Escondido and Loretto. About 1000, AirOps took off for parts South. About 1030, we upped our anchor, but not before going back to shore and getting what logs we didn't burn the night before(wood is scarce out here), and headed out for La Ballena, as I said, about 2 miles South of San Marte.
We motored around the small reef between the two and dropped the anchor and set her well in the sandy bottom. Now, what weather forecasts we had heard, all called for 5-8 knots of wind from the North for today. What we got was 5-8 knots from the Southeast!! We set our anchor so that our bow faced Southeast, just incase the forecast was wrong. For once, it paid off. If there was going to be wind from the Southeast, we wanted to make sure our anchor was set and set deep to keep us off the shore and the reef along the shoreline. We dropped the anchor at 25 28.447N 111 01.104W for those of you Google Earth folks. For once, we had the place to ourselves, at least until about 1700 when a fishing boat joined us. We'd gone ashore earlier and gathered as much firewood as we could for tonight's bonfire. As we went ashore(about 1900, we invited the fisherman to join us. He declined as he wanted to go catch some bait fish for tomorrows fishing. He returned later and dropped his anchor right off shore. We retuned to Zephyr about 2100 to a rocky boat as the shrimp boats pass by.
Apparently, March 1'st must be the start of shrimp fishing season. Since Monday, we have had shrimp boats going up and down the coast at night, dragging their nets trying to catch as many as they can. During the day, they drop their anchors and wait for nightfall. It's like a stinking freeway out there. We had at least 7 boats going up and down the coast. We'd not seen any before Monday night. Now they are out everywhere. Not one fisherman has stopped by to try and sell us any fish. We had expected that they would. I expect we will be buying a fishing rod when we return to La Paz. Dave, if you read this, could you email us with some recommendations as to what to buy--type of rod and reel and weight of line, etc? They aren't cheap and we want to make sure we get a good one. We drag a line behind our boat when we are out sailing, but once the anchor is down, we could try getting fish using a rod. Or, we could take Puff and head for one of the reefs and do it there. I know there are fish out there just waiting to be caught by us.
03/02/2010, Bahia San Marte
We listened to the weather again this morning(typed last night before I crashed) and it sounded alright to take off again.
Up came the anchor at 0835 and out we went. I'd laid in a course the night before so we could take the most direct route South to Bahia San Marte. Out we went quickly passing the protection of the point to the East. Up went the mainsail and out rolled the Genoa and off we went. Of course, once we took off, the winds shifted to be coming more out of the North which would make it a bit more uncomfortable. We would be forced to sail almost directly down wind which is not a lot of fun. So instead, we took a bit of a more sideways course so the wind would hit us a bit more from the starboard stern. It was blowing at a speed of maybe 6 knots. Not much wind. So to try and make a better speed, we rolled in the Genoa and lowered the mainsail and pulled up the spinnaker. She is stowed in a large sock gizmo that gets pulled up and allows the sail to pop free once it is raised to the top of the mast. At 1200 square feet of sail, she flies big and colorful.
After about 8 miles, and consulting with the charts, we decided that in order for us to get on a better course toward our destination, we had to detach the spinnaker from the port side on the bow(pointy end of the boat folks) she was on and moved over to the starboard side. It's called Gibing. All you have to do is detach the rope that holds the sail in the appropriate position(pulls the sail back along the side when up), detach the sail where it attaches to the deck(that pointy place again) and pull it around all the wires that go up the mast, and then across Zephyrs bow. Reattach all the lines on the starboard side(mostly new ones), pull the sock back up and pop, open she comes(at least in a perfect world).
Once we moved the spinnaker to the starboard side, off Zephyr went. Still not too fast-3 to 4 knots but at least in the right direction-South for Bahia San Marte. With James, our Hydrovane engaged and the DuoGen lowered into the water, we could sit back and let Zephyr do her stuff.
It was a slow day with the winds maybe hitting 8 knots which left us sailing at 2 to 3 knots and over 30 miles to the new anchorage. Once in a while, the winds would climb to 10 and our speed would increase, but rarely. At that speed, we wouldn't get to Bahia San Marte till almost 2200. Once we got beside Isla Monserrate, the waves and swells increase with the shallowness of the water and reefs and Zephyr began to rock violently back and forth in the swells. We made the decision then to sock the spinnaker and turn on the engine. It was already 1600 and we had ten more miles to go. It took from 0835 to 1600 to cover all of 21 miles. Like I said, slow going.
I went forward and grabbed the line that pulls down our sock on the spinnaker while Tracy slowly released the line that keeps the spinnaker tight and down the sock came. Meanwhile, Zephyr was getting thrown all over the place by the swells. The bow of the boat was rocking and rolling. As always, I had on my life jacket. I'm not crazy. If I fall overboard, I'll need all the help I can get and being able to stay afloat is one of the most important. With the sock down, and the motor on, we headed South at about 5 to 6 knots. We would be in San Marte by 1800.
There are three sets of reefs off San Marte and we wanted to make sure we avoided them. I'd entered way points into our chart plotter so that we would know where they were. It's one of the biggest reasons to have cruising books aboard is that they give out important information like that. It makes boating much safer-at least as long as the GPS point are accurate. We slowly motored into the small cove and dropped the anchor at 1735(25 30.240N 111 01.040W). We were in a cove all by ourselves. This cove is so close to Agua Verde that most boaters pass it by and go there. It's much larger and a bit more protected, especially from South winds. We'd anchored there on our way North. We'd passed San Marte by like all the rest. Now was our chance to explore it all by ourselves. There are a few caves along the shoreline just South of here we will be exploring with Puff and Dragon later this morning. Meanwhile, the forecast is for light and variable winds from the North for the next few days.
It surprises us how few boats we see as we sail the Sea of Cortez. Yesterday, we saw only two other boats. One a fishing boat and the second one was a tour boat full of sightseer heading for Escondido. No other sail boats. Sure, you see a few in anchorages where we congregate, but out on the water, we see very few. For it being the high season, this place is relatively deserted.
For those of you out there working on your boats, a word of advise. Make sure you have a dodger installed before you ever leave the dock. Plus, make sure it blocks out as much wind and water as possible with a cover that leads back over parts of the cockpit. For those land lubbers out there, a dodger is made of either wood, fiberglass, cloth, or plastic and shields the occupants of the cockpit from water and wind as you are out sailing and in the harbors and coves. It also allows you to sit in the cockpit in rotten weather and enjoy the outside and not be trapped inside the cabin. While in San Juanico, of all the boat in there everyone but one had a nice dodger. We could all sit outside in wind and still enjoy the sunshine. One boat--Sea Story--didn't have one. They had a large bimini to protect them from the Sun, but not the wind out here. When you are at anchor, the wind can ruin a nice day of sunshine fast. Sitting outside in 30 knots with no wind break is not fun. While the rest of us sat and enjoyed the beautiful(yet windy) day, the poor folks on Sea Story were stuck below decks. When they arrived, they were all bundled up in insulated pants and sweaters with hoods. The rest of us were in shorts and tee shirts. Having a dodger can make a big difference in your personal comfort and safety.
Well, we are off to explore the caves about 1.5 miles South of here. I made a loaf of English Muffin bread this morning. Something new. Cut it and toast it and voila, English Muffins, or at least that is what the Fleischmann's recipe book says. I guess we will see tomorrow morning. I'll let you know.