03/11/2010, Ensenada Grande
Yesterday, the wind shifted and came out of the South, right into the bay causing all the boats anchored here to rock and roll a good bit in the swells that came in. By afternoon, it had shifted back around and started coming out of the North again. We're protected from all but South winds and waves in this little bay. Mother Nature just wanted to play with us again.
We woke up to the rhythmic sound of thunk, thunk, thunk, over and over again as something moved inside Zephyr. A sound every now and then is ok, but over and over is not. As Zephyr moved at anchor in the swells, the sound just kept on thunking. If you have followed our blog for a while, you know we have had problems with our steering ever since we started sailing Zephyr. The bracket that controls the rudder post keeps coming loose. We lost steering the first time as we fought 40 knot winds and 20 foot seas on our way North from Newport Oregon in July of 2008. I had to crawl under the mattress in the stern(getting thrown all over the place) and get down into the bilge and tighten the clamps. I had stainless steel shims made to make the fit tighter between the bracket and the rudder post. Unfortunately, as we sail, these little buggers shift and that is what it had done. The thunking we heard was the rudder post moving back and forth inside the bracket(again). Up came the mattress and in I went with two wrenches and apart came the bolts and in went the shims(one had popped out the top of the bracket) and once tightened, the thunking stopped. Once we get back to civilization, I think I will try and find a better solution for this problem. I figured that having applied "Lock-Tite" to the threads of the bolt would have solved the problem. Guess not since the shims moved.
I grabbed my needle and thread and stitched up a seam on one of the pockets on the dodger(covers the cockpit). The thread had come undone and it needed to be redone before it got worse. It's better to tackle these projects as soon as they crop up so they don't get out of hand.
Other than that, we practiced our Spanish(computer program) and sat and read the rest of the day. The winds were picking up and we just decided to stay aboard for a change. Lots more boats came and went as the day progressed with pangas full of tour folks coming to visit the middle cove here. A large power boat dropped their anchor in the middle cove and pulled out their toys. A jet ski and their water skis plus a big dingy with a big motor. Their kids spent the afternoon buzzing around the bay making as much wake as they could. All three kids took turns at the wheel of the dingy zipping between all the other boats at anchor. Heaven forbid they should go out where there are no boats and do it there.
The winds came back over night and we are now set with 20+ knot winds from the North and they're forecast to continue through Tuesday. I've emailed Marina Palmira in La Paz for a reservation to stay there as of this Thursday for a week. We will see how long it takes to get all our jobs done and get ready for the leap to the mainland. Heaven help my credit cards.
03/11/2010, Ensenada Grande
The past two days here at Ensenada Grande have been spent basically exploring and playing games. Oh, and watching boats come and go. We took off in Puff with Dragon on Friday morning exploring the different coves here. The cruise book for the neighborhood each tell a different story of the three coves. Which is good for which weather. The North cove(where we are) is supposed to be better for the North winds as they would zip right over us where we are tucked in while the South cove would get more swells from the North as they came around the North point of the bay. Well, since it was still blowing at 20-25 knots, we thought we should investigate and see if any of them were better in the wind we were having..
We were getting good winds(as far as the DuoGen was concerned) as they flowed over the bluffs to the North that protect this cove and while the swell wasn't bad, it was still a howler in the rigging. The middle cove is open yet a beautiful beach to play on. We found that when we went ashore, the winds were just about gone along the beach. They by passed this cove(at least the beach). During the day, dozens of tourist in big boats and small pangas come and flock to this beach, many returning from a trip to Los Islotes where they can snorkel with sea lions. One of the CruiseWest.com boats(he took off sometime early Friday morning) was already anchored there when we showed up on Thursday afternoon. They'd set up umbrellas, tents and chairs for all their customers. We had been surprised that so many went ashore in the winds we had been experiencing. Now we knew why the beach was so popular. While the others got lots of wind, this one didn't. As we putt putted around to the South cove, we were hit again by the winds from the North blowing over the bluffs and valley. The cove there is quite shallow near the back and I jumped out of Puff a good 150 yards from shore and the water only came up to just above my knees. I pulled Puff to shore and we walked the beach. Behind the beach is a small lagoon full of fish (small) and crabs(small) all set up in their own little eco system. At the back of the cove is a trail heading for the other side of the island. We headed back to Zephyr, picked up our frizbee and headed back to the middle cove and got some exercise. Along the way in, we stopped for a few minutes and chatted with the folks aboard the Mooring boat that had anchored there. They had come in about an hour before. I don't think the daughter(mid 20s) liked the sailing experience. As they sat in the cockpit having lunch, she still had her life jacket on. Once we left the beach, the folks aboard the Mooring boat came ashore. We returned to Zephyr and the winds in the North cove.
With Friday being so windy, few boats came into any of the three anchorages as most don't like going out in this weather(chicken). I think only three boats showed up all day. The forecast for Saturday was for more winds out of the North to Northwest, back in the 20-25 knot range. What did we get---maybe 10 knots all day. It was the perfect day for sailing up the coast and many boats did just that. I decided to walk the trail that lead off the back of the South cove that took you to the other side of the island. I made it ashore by 1000. We had pulled Puff aboard the previous night as the winds were howling past her as we had just pulled her up to sit along side Zephyr but out of the water on our hoist. We normally jut hoist her up and let her dangle through the night in a sling made for inflatable boats. This time, the wind was so strong, that we decided to just pull her all the way back on board rather than have her flop around beside Zephyr. We'd already taken Dragon(our outboard) off and stowed it on the railing at the stern. It's much safer and quieter that way(and less strain on the rigging).
I packed some bottles of cold water and some crackers and cookies(along with a VHF radio just in case) and took off for the South cove. The sign at the base of the trail said it was a difficult hike and was 2.5 miles and would take 4.5 hours. Man, what was I getting myself into? Off I went on the trail(what I could find of it) for the first 200 yards. After that, you really had to search for any kind of path. I finally decided to just stay in the arroyo and climb over the rock and boulders that had been deposited there over the last thousands of years. Up I went, rock after rock, boulder after boulder. Every once in a while, I would see some sign in the dirt(what there was of it) that someone had been there before me but who knows how long ago. It rarely rains here and that would be the only thing that would erase the foot prints. As I set out, I saw lots of lizards, most not afraid of me, and lots of small squirrels(about the size of large mice) and one lone rabbit with big ears. Luckily no rattlesnakes. I found stacked rocks along the arroyo marking where someone else had climbed. I added a rock to the top of the stacks every time I found a set. I finally arrived at the top of the canyon about 1130 after an hour and and half climb. I ended up on a 450 foot cliff at the top of a box canyon over looking the eastern shoreline. Waves were crashing onto the rocks below me. It was an incredible view and not a boat to be seen. I plunked myself down and has some water(lemonade flavored) and the small package of cookies(for a completed hike). I could use the fluids and the sugar. I started the decent about 1150 and again, stepped from rock to rock all the way down. I know my legs will be telling me something(OW!) later tonight. When I arrived at the beach, there was a nice canopy all set up on shore with a nice Mexican family having a picnic. A dingy was bringing food and drinks ashore from their large yacht anchored just off the cove. It's rare that you see any one from Mexico traveling their own waters, especially in their own boat. We have found that there are more Canadians than Americans down here. I had a nice chat with a gentleman from Switzerland that was about to start the same climb I had made. They had charted a boat from the Moorings(even had a captain on board to skipper the boat). His wife really didn't like the water and sailing that much, he told me. I stopped at the Moorings boat as I headed out and had a nice chat with the Captain. He takes the folks where ever they want to go. I know the charter is expensive, but adding a Captain to the package and it really goes off the chart, money wise. As I rounded the point off the cove, there was another Moorings boat in the middle anchorage. It was the same boat that had been there the night before that had blown a block as they had come South. I had watched them leave the cove earlier(headed North) in the day as I had headed over to the South cove for my hike. Apparently, they had come back. Another boat had joined us in the North anchorage. We now had 7 boats in the bay.
As the day continued, more boats came in, mostly from the South as they made their way up the Sea of Cortez. The yacht from Mexico left in the late afternoon and a bigger one(lots bigger) came in just as they were leaving. Another boat joined the Moorings boat in the middle cove and several joined the group in the South cove. About 1600, the Mooring boat in the middle cove took off again. As they headed out, they hoisted their sails(amazing) and headed North. A half hour later, they showed up heading South. Leaving that late, God only knows where they were headed to.
It continued to be a lovely day for a sail for the rest of the day with beautiful sunshine and gentle winds. We will see what tomorrow brings
03/11/2010, Ensenada Grande
Yesterday afternoon, I took Puff ashore and went for a walk along the sandy/rocky beach for a while and to get a bit of exercise. A few more boats came to the anchorage with them dropping their hooks all over the place. Some on the Northwest side with us and some on the Southeast side. One even dropped his out in the middle of the bay in relatively deep water(don't have a cue as to why). A tour boat full of Chinese showed up late in the afternoon and several boat loads of them went snorkeling along the South side of the cove. I'd say at least 10 tourists and 3 Mexican guides were on board. I can't imagine where they all slept as the boat wasn't that big and didn't look to have that kind of accommodations. They dropped their anchor right in front of us. As they pulled up their anchor(an Danforth type) this morning, it was hopelessly gammed up upon it self and its chain. There was no way it would have held the boat in any serious wind.
This morning dawned cold and cloudy with some wind from the North. The forecast was for winds building through the day and hitting into the mid 20 knot range from the North to Northwest. We upped the anchor and headed out for Ensenada Grande, a large bay on Isla Partida . Out we went, raising the sails shortly after leaving. We pulled up the main sail and rolled out the Genoa and headed South. We had to go with the wind off our Starboard stern quarter(right side rear of the boat) since we didn't have our spinnaker up. The forecast was for too much wind. We were zipping right along hitting into the mid 7 knot range and having a great time. About an hour later, two more boats left the anchorage and were following us. They were headed for La Paz for a while. It's quite a bit farther to go than what we needed to do. About 8 miles out, we gibbed(moved the sails to the opposite side taking the stern of the boat through the eye of the wind). In 20 knot wind, not the easiest thing to do. We needed to correct our course so we would hit the cove at the right side. We needed to head Southeast. Tracy spun the wheel while I took care of the lines and over came the boom. Not the most graceful gibe, but we corrected our course and set off again. Cutting across the swells make for an interesting ride. The waves just slam into the side of the boat over and over as you plow through them. It can get quite rocky as we saw another sailboat headed out in the opposite direction. Some times it's fun and sometimes, it can be downright painful. During one slam, one of our folding seats in the cockpit fell over and hit poor Blue. She freaked out and ran out on deck heading for the bow. Not the best place to run to as waves broke against the side. I took off after her and managed to get her back in the cockpit. She took off for below decks as fast as her legs would carry her. She wasn't coming back out until it got better and certainly calmer. These swells will either slam into your side or go right under the hull and pop up on the opposite side with a gush of foam. It makes for an interesting ride. The two boats behind us just kept on going. As we headed toward the bay, we were cutting across the swells that had kept building during the morning. About 1130, a "rogue wave" slammed into our port(left)side and water sprayed into the cockpit all over Tracy. Out came the towels and eventually she was a bit dryer but not much. On we pressed. We rolled in most of the Genoa and were still making over 8 knots. As we rounded up to take in some more sail, we topped out at 9 knots. The winds had crested at 39 knots and we still had our full mainsail up and part of the genoa out. We were lucky enough to be heading up when it hit or we could have been in a world of hurt. That kind of wind will take a boat over. We had much to much sail up but we sure were having fun(insert Stupid here). These waves aren't you average waves. These babies just kept building and be came almost blockish with squared off fronts. You don't roll over them, they just keep hitting you. It took us 22.8 miles to cover the distance of 19 the cruise book state.
Just outside the bay, a large whale(about the size of our boat) surfaced right in front of us. Tracy cried out "WHALE", but I never saw him(curse of the blind I guess). Supposedly, he came up twice and sprayed and then went down. Dropping the sails, we entered the bay shortly after 1200. We chose to anchor in the North cove so as to avoid the up coming wind and swells that have been forecast. Once to the anchorage, I went forward to drop the anchor and chain. Tracy got us all into position and down went the anchor and out came the chain, at least the first 45 feet or so. It suddenly stopped in mid drop! Ok, stomp on the chain to make it come out--nope. Reel in some of the chain and start over--nope. OK, time to rip stuff out of the locker and get down to what was causing the stoppage. Out came line and tarps and carts and fenders just to look into the anchor locker. Hey, you have to store this stuff some where. I stuck in the boat hook and pulled on the chain. OK, try and let it out again--nope. OK, reel in a bunch more so you can get your hands on it. A BIG knot had developed in the chain. There was no way it was going to come out of the small little pipe through the deck. Once I had the chain, it took me a minute or so to get it untied. During that time, we had drifted back out into the bay as what we had out was no where near enough to catch and hold Zephyr. Tracy kept us in place like the fine skipper she is. Up came the anchor and chain and in we went again. There was only one other boat in the cove so no problem. In we went again and this time, the chain came out just fine. In 25 feet of water, I let out over 100 feet of chain to make sure it would bite in the sand. She dug in just fine and we were set(24 33.953N 110 24.436W). We've now covered 3,381 miles since we left Port Townsend on August 15th. Not bad! That puts us over 6,000 since we left for Alaska in early April.
It was blowing in the low 20 knot range right through the anchorage off the tall bluffs at it's point. I set up the DuoGen as soon as we were set so it could grab as much wind as possible and make the amps we need to get us through the day. As I stowed the lines, Tracy made lunch. We stowed the rest once we were done and then watched as pangas(small boats) full of snorkelers came into the bay for lunch on the beach. A big ship from Cruise West.com is anchored in the middle cove and the beach is covered in tents, chairs and umbrellas for their enjoyment. They even have set up a barbecue for them. I'm not sure I would want to eat my lunch ashore unprotected from the wind with sand in my food, but hey, I'm not on their boat. Ours was just fine in the protection of our dodger over the cockpit.
The forecast for tomorrow is for more of the same. Wind in the mid 20 knot range but the swells are supposed to be in the 6 to 9 foot range every 6 seconds or so. Yow, that is going to make for some stiff sailing or motoring for that matter to any one that goes out in it. I think we will stay here for at least the next week or so. Time to enjoy the area. Then over to La Paz to get more provisions and chores done. Once we finish there, it is over to the mainland. Another adventure will be starting soon, but boy, what a fun sail we had today.
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.