05/19/2010, San Carlos
Well, we've been back in San Carlos for about a week avoiding the big winds that have been hitting the mainland coast of the Sea Of Cortez for the past week. We had moved from San Pedro to Bahia Algodones last week for a day or so and then the winds were forecast to come out of the South and where we were was no place to be in South winds. So, since we already had paid for the mooring, back we went and tied up and sat them out. It's still blowing about 20 knots outside as I type this.
On Monday, we were joined by Bill & Nancy Berg, a couple I have known since the mid 1970s when I first worked at American Furniture in Albuquerque. They now live in Kino Bay North of San Carlos. Bill had tracked us down in Aurora and we made arrangements to get together for a day sail. We went out to dinner with them on Monday and headed out for a nice sail on Tuesday as the winds were supposed to be lighter. Well, they still piped up into the 20+ knot range so we reduced sails and headed out for a day under canvas. Both Bill & Nancy have sailed for the past 20 years, just not on a boat the size of Zephyr. Sailing is sailing, it's all in the sail controls. With Nancy at the wheel, we had a great time and pulled into Caleta Lalo for a late lunch/early dinner. It was great to see the two of them again. Bill & I have long and colorful history.
I've been packing my bags this afternoon as I leave tomorrow evening for the fun trip home. We got laundry done this morning and now at least, I will have clean clothes to wear for the trip. I've packed light as I will only be there for a few days before I load up the car and head back to pick up Tracy and the kids. Shadow is still just humming along. Thin as a rail but eating every 30 minutes or so. He has just celebrated his 18th birthday and the kids just had their 5th. Don't know where the time has gone.
We've been stowing things and getting ready for the haul out on the 12th. We've stowed lots of lines and sails and have a ways to go before we are done. We expect we will be spending a few days in the work yard before we go into official storage. Once in the main yard, you can't spend any time on your boat so all must be ready when that put it on the trailer and move it. It's hard for us to believe that it's the end of the season with it only being about the first of June.
I'll post some more as I round up things to bring back in the car. Things that won't melt in the harsh Mexico Sun.
05/19/2010, Bahia San Pedro
Yesterday started calm and worked itself up from there. The morning was almost calm and we were subject to the land and sea breezes that develop during the day.
I swam to shore on Monday afternoon. It is really one of the first times I have actually swum in the Sea of Cortez. The water was at just over 70 degrees so it was still quite chilly. I had to keep moving to stave off the chill. Once I made shore, I walked the sandy/rocky beach and warmed back up. Tracy jumped into Puff(always the smart girl--why swim in cold water when you can boat?) and came ashore with a life preserver and line. We tied the line to the life preserver and I snapped it around my body. Tracy powered up Dragon and off we went dragging me behind Puff. I became a roving submarine scanning the sandy floor looking at all the fish and shells. I had used my mask and fins to get ashore so I had them to use as I was getting dragged around our little cove. It was lots of fun to see everything and not having to work at it by swimming.
Back to yesterday. With it being so calm on Monday night, we had left the tarps up to cover Zephyr. Tuesday was forecast for "land and sea breezes". It means that where we were, when the land heats, it draws air off the water and creates a Southwest breeze toward the shore. As the heat of the Sun gets less during the evening, the air and wind reverse and it goes away from the land making a Northeast wind. No "real" wind was forecast. By 1300, the wind was just beginning to pick up and come out of the West to Northwest with some out of the Southwest just for fun. By 1400, we were up to about 15-18 knots straight into the cove. That put Zephyr on a lee shore--the shoreline was behind us and if the anchor dragged, we could end up on shore--NOT where we wanted to be. So down came the tarps and we stowed stuff on deck and below deck and got ready to sail back to Bahia San Pedro since the winds would push us right along. By 1500, the motor was started, the anchor pulled up and off we went out of the Las Cocinas. The swell of waves was running at just over two feet with the occasional three footer thrown in for fun. Once out of the cove, we rolled out the Genoa and pointed Zephyr Southeast toward Bahia San Pedro. If you have been following our blog for a while, you know what happens next. That's right, the winds started to die!!! We rolled in the Genoa and put up the Main sail and then rolled out the Genoa again. We have to roll in the Genoa so we can bring Zephyrs bow into the wind to raise the mainsail. It's really tough(darn near impossible) to raise the sail any other way than that. Once the mainsail is up, out rolled the Genoa again and off we went down wind blazing along at a whole 2 knots!!! WOW!!! After 30 minutes, we knew we wouldn't get to Bahia San Pedro till long after sunset. So with the wind dying around us, we rolled in the Genoa again, moved the main to midships and started the engine. Off we went at a decent 6 knots toward San Pedro. At least now we would be there by 1800. As we neared San Pedro(right out side the cove) the wind started to pick up(go figure huh?) and by the time we rounded the North point of the cove, we were back in 15 knot winds!! Mother Nature is so the practical joker. We found another sail boat at anchor, near to where we had first anchored when we got here a few days ago. We dropped our anchor near to where we had moved to the first time at 28 03.405N 111 14.763W. With the wind blowing, it pushed Zephyr backwards and quickly set the anchor nice and tight. We were in for the night. One of the guys on the other boat(a Hunter 40 we think) watched us as we went about setting Zephyr up for being at anchor. I put on the anchor snubber(a long line that attaches to the anchor chain and a cleat on deck to take the stress off the windlass) and let out about 20 feet of line. There was no snubber on the Hunter(yeah, we spied on his boat too). They just had the chain to his anchor dangling off the bow of his boat. We put sail ties around the mainsail to keep it nice and tight to the boom so it doesn't blow around on deck. His main rolls into his mast for storage. Nice feature until it jams and you can't get your sail in(in an emergency) or out when you are ready to sail. We do it the old fashioned way. It stows on the boom and is ready for raising when we want it too. It take a bit more work but nothing can go wrong. Once the sail was tied down, we were set for the night.
When we listened to the morning net on our SSB, we had learned that the space station with the shuttle attached was to "fly" down the Sea of Cortez shortly after sundown so we made sure to be on deck to see the show. Sure enough at about 1950, along she came out of the Northwest heading Southeast like a slow arrow. When you are out here, you'll take about anything for entertainment. We even stopped dinner so we could be outside to watch it. There was supposed to be a "flash" for one of the Iridium satellites as it changed it mirrors alignment shortly after the space station went by, but we never saw it. Oh well.
The winds continued till the middle of the night when they finally died down. It came back this morning by 0800 and are still blowing nicely. The DuoGen is spinning nicely on the stern. The other sailboat left at 0600 and headed North around the point right into the wind. Don't have a clue where they are going but they will be fighting the wind the entire way there. There are three panga fishing boats on shore with them going in and out during the day. One stoped by an hour ago and offered to sell us some lobsters. We are trying to get rid of what we have on board in our stores so the last thing we needed was more food. Today, maybe more swimming in the afternoon. We will see what happens as the day progresses.
05/16/2010, Las Cocinas
We moved a bit father North yesterday out of San Pedro cove and 16 miles farther on our journey. I got everything ready for a nice sail as the winds were forecast to be out of the South to Southwest and that was just what we had as we sat in the cove. So off came the sail cover and I put the DuoGen back into "water" mode with the small propeller that drags behind Zephyr as we sail. Halyards were attached to the mainsail and the line were all made ready for use as we hoisted and unrolled the sails. All this work was of course the kiss of death to have any chance of sailing. Up came the anchor and out we went.
As we left the cove, the winds shifted to out of the North and the swells were coming out of the West so we began to first rock bow to stern and then side to side as we headed out. If it wasn't fastened down below, it came flying across the cabin. What winds we had died back to 2 to 3 knots so with the motor running, on we went along the coast. We really had no idea where we would end up for the night as there are several coves along the shoreline. We motored in to Serimuerto as well as Caleta Venecia and found both too rollie as the swells were rolling in making it an uncomfortable anchorage.
On we went toward Rada El Pasito--a wide spot along the coast. To open for our tastes is the wind changed at all. A mile farther up was Ensenada Julio Villa. A nice looking LITTLE cove. It would be great for a 30 footer but not for the 45 feet that Zephyr is. Plus there were some campers along the shoreline. We motored in to see it but never actually entered the cove as we judged it just to small for comfort. Now this little cove is out in the middle of no where so I can't imagine who let alone why any one would carve a road in the dirt to make a path to this place. But there was a nice road carved into the hills and flat lands all the way to this out of the way place. No houses not any water available but a decent road to get there.
We rounded Punta Morena and made our way to Las Cocinas(the kitchens) and found a delightful bay that would protect us from the South winds and swells that were rolling around out in the Sea of Cortez. There is a South cove to anchor in that will protect us from the South and a North cove that could protect us from North winds and swells. An all around decent anchorage for any wind. We dropped anchor at 28 13.09N 111 22.536W just after noon and settled in. We put up some tarps and lowered Puff with Dragon into the water so we could explore the neighborhood later.
After a nice lunch of curried chicken on tortillas, we changed into swim suits and took off for the smaller coves around the South corner of our bay. The rocks are beautifully colored with reds and different shades of other colors and is magnificent in the brilliant sunshine. As the Sun moves across the sky, the rocks take on different hues throughout the day. We saw panga fishermen motoring South throughout the day and only one small boat came in our little space of heaven. The coves we visited were beautifully carved stones with a bit of a small beach(or small stone) at the head. We pulled ashore and hiked a bit around the cove. The only really good beach was at our cove with a nice long stretch of sand that changes to small rocks the farther North you walk. So far, the water has been quite chilly no mater where we have stopped. The water here is just 70 degrees, a bit chilly for swimming. The really warm water comes later in the year.
We watched the Sun set about 1930 into the flat calm water West of us and sat out and watched satellites and planes pass overhead as the last of the glow from the Sun faded. The moon was just a small crescent that set by 2115 and the night took on a beautiful darkness that allowed the stars to shine brilliantly in the night. As the Sun goes down, the temperature drops quickly and the night air takes on a chilly feel to it. You can be sweating one minute in the heat of the Sun and have a chill the next. An amazing environment to spend time in.
We will spend today exploring our little slice of the Sea of Cortez. Tomorrows winds are forecast to be from the North to the East(yeah--right) so we will see what happens then. Yesterday was the "official" start of hurricane season so now we really start watching and listening to the weather.
05/13/2010, Bahia San Pedro
We dropped the line to the mooring buoy about 1020 and headed out and North along the coast. The winds had been blowing into San Carlos Harbor from the Southwest at about 10 knots so we knew we were going to have a great sail up the coast. HA!! Fraid not!! As soon as we left the harbor, either the wind shifted or we went the wrong way as the wind hit us on the bow and never let up the entire 15 miles we went today. Go figure--wind from the wrong direction. How could it be????? With the engine running, we headed along the coast playing with the radar to see what it would show us. With the engine running, we had plenty of power to use it for a change. Along we went, passing other boats--both sail and power as they headed South--most with sails up(darn them). We chose Bahia San Pedro as it's a well protected cove. We're set for all but big winds from the South. Of course, that is what is scheduled for later this evening, but only in the 6 to 8 knot range so no big deal. If it gets higher, we can always re anchor in the Southeast side of the cove and be just fine. We're located at 28 03.436N 111 14.685W for you Google Earth fans out there.
The trip was uneventful and there is just one other boat at anchor with us and just one panga full of fishermen that are camping along the shore. We plan on launching Puff in a few minutes and exploring the shore to see what it has to offer.
The folks on Evergreen(another Liberty 458) pulled into the marina yesterday afternoon to continue getting their boat ready for it's haul out on Saturday. They have already taken off their sails and are prepping the rest for its Summer nap just as we will be doing later this month for our Summer lay up in June. We'd thought to be there on Saturday when they haul out but the Sea of Cortez calls out to us so we will probably just continue North along the coast to see what the mainland has to offer. We just have to be back in San Carlos by he 28th so I can catch the bus North to Tucson for my flight home. I already have a long list of things to buy while there and spent most of yesterday afternoon at the Marina Cantina using their wifi to order in some items that won't be available in Denver. They will be sitting there all ready for me to bring back when I come in early June.
We'd planned on doing our laundry yesterday but when we went ashore to do it, we found Barracuda Bob's closed and when they close, there is no where else to by the laundry tokens necessary to use their machines. Instead, we walked over to the hotel and took advantage of their laundry and had them do it for us. Our 5 kilo bag of laundry cost just 105 pesos or about $8.50US. To have done them in the laundromat would have saved us a whole 5 pesos or about 40 cents. That was a no brainer. They had it all done by 1700 when Tracy stopped in to pick it up. As the wind was blowing at about 30 knots, I'd taken Puff back to Zephyr giving a lift to another cruiser that was just returning to his boat after a trip home. He'd asked the marina to set him up with a panga fisherman to get a sort of "taxi" ride back to his boat. The marina wanted $25.00US to take him the mile back to his boat. I beat their price by doing it for free. Cruisers have to stick together!!!! As I was about to go back in to pick up Tracy and the laundry, who should appear but the same guy I'd helped get to his boat. When I took him out, he had his outboard with him and he attached it to the dingy on his boat and had gone back in for his suitcases. He saw Tracy waiting and gave her a lift back to Zephyr. That was great as I had just put a loaf of Pumpkin Spice bread with walnuts into the oven to bake. I didn't have to leave it unsupervised. It came out an hour later just great.
As I sit her typing this, I have the VHF radio going in front of me. I'm picking up radio calls from Puerto Escondido on the other side of the Sea of Cortez. That's about 80 miles from here. Normally VHF radio only has a range of maybe 20 miles if you're lucky. We must be getting some kind of weird skip in the signal as that is way beyond the range normally received. When we were crossing from La Paz to Maztlan, we'd heard a call to the Pilot in Guaymas that takes boats in and out of that harbor and it several hundred miles away from where we were at the time. The Sea of Cortez can be a strange(and beautiful) place to cruise.
Well, it's time t get back up on deck and get Puff in the water and see what the beach is like. I'll let you know what we find. Oh, by the way, if you ever find yourself cruising down here, we both thought that Caleta Lalo to be the ugliest anchorage we have been in since we sailed into the Sea of Cortez. The shoreline was ugly and the locals parked their cars and trucks so that the sounds of their radios blared across the small cove all though the night. So if you are ever over here, plan of avoiding Lalo at all times. Its not a pretty nor quiet place to visit.
As always, there is more to come.
05/11/2010, San Carlos
With the wind forecast for the mid 20 knot range and out of the Southwest, we decided to utilize the mooring buoy we paid for and headed back for San Carlos for a day or so. Well, we're on day three now and might be out of here tomorrow. Not sure yet as we have offered to help another boater get his boat ready for haul out on the 15. Its a Liberty 458 called Evergreen. Hull number 3 of the line. She sailed in yesterday morning as we were getting ready to head out. Plans(as always written in sand)changed in a split second as this was the first Liberty we have seen since we left Port Townsend last August and the first we have seen since September of 2008 when one wandered into the Hudson Point Marina when we were on the hard. She's a beauty with a white hull instead of the blue like ours. The folks on board headed below after dropping their anchor so we figured they had just made the crossing from the Baja. When we saw them a few hours later, they were getting into their dingy and heading ashore. We climbed into Puff and headed in a few minutes behind them. As we sat in Baracuda Bob's for lunch, we took a stab at the first guy(Dennis) that entered and asked if he was on Evergreen. We got lucky and he answered "yes" with a quizical look on his face. When we told him that we had the proto type for the Liberty line, the conversation took off from there. Shortly, his wife(Carol) joined us and then his 12 year old son(Josh) came in also. They'd stopped in for a shower. We sat for the next few hours and traded stories of our boats. Apparently, they had seen Zephyr back in 2006 but passed on buying her. They later purchased Evergreen while living in California. They came down to Mexico in last years Baja Ha Ha race held in late October. They've spent a good bit of time since then on the mainland side and had recently gone over to the Baja side for a few weeks until they crossed back yesterday. They hadn't seen us when they came into the harbor. We set up arrangements for having dinner aboard their boat. Its quite similar to our with a few subtle differences. Amazingly, their forward berth area is set up very similar to ours but they only have one bunk on the port side while we have two. They have the wall between the two cabins that the last owners had removed to make that area much bigger. Lots of little differences here and there as there were a few years between the boats. We volunteered to help them anyway we can since they are getting hauled out on the 15th.
Oh, just a note--the big winds from the South that made us come back to San Carlos never materialized. It was just about calm for the entire day. Now yesterday, it blew in the mid 20 knot range most of the afternoon and died off in the early evening. Today is the same with it having a nice little blow outside. I guess it's the reaction of the heat from the land hitting up against the coolness of the water. We had fog yesterday morning when we got up. It didn't last long, but it seemed strange to see fog in Mexico. Especially mainland Mexico. Its now sunny and forecast for temps in the high 80's so as long as the wind blows, it's not too bad. Being in the shade helps so we have put as many tarps as we can over Zephyrs decks. It really makes a difference in keeping the inside cool.
So here we sit and here we will stay till at least tomorrow. If Evergreen doesn't ask for any help by then we will probably head out to Bahia Algodones for Bahia San Pedro and enjoy the quiet of being back on anchor. We just want to make sure we are back here by the 15th to see Evergreen get hauled out.
05/08/2010, Caleta Lalo
It was a short hop today a grand total of 3.2 miles around the South tip of the headlands of San Carlos and into the small cove of Caleta Lalo(27 56.392N 111 05.433W). We decided to leave Martini to see what Lalo was like. Well, it's not that pretty a place with big houses up on the hills surrounding the cove. Lots of couples and their kids came to the beach today to enjoy the weather. It was just overcast enough to keep the heat to a decent level and that was a blessing. From what I observed, no women in Mexico own swim suits. Not a single women we saw was in a suit. All were in shorts and tee shirts as were their husbands. Some of the kid--boys only were in swim suits. The girls were all in shorts and tee shirts like their mothers.
The winds tomorrow are to come from the South and since there are very few places to anchor on the mainland to protect yourself from a South wind, we plan on going back the 4 miles to San Carlos and tying up to the mooring we have rented. Shouldn't be there for more than a day as the winds are expected to moderate by Monday. We'll be off for Bahia Algodones or farther North. I've put numerous way points and anchorages into our chart plotter with gps markings so we will have no problem finding them. Meanwhile, I sit and read while Tracy is stitching.
We made sure to put up tarps to cover the deck as soon as we arrived in Caleta Lalo to keep the Sun off the teak. It get VERY hot in the Sun and really heats up the interior. Our hull is painted a beautiful shade of blue and it is another heat absorber. While it was great for the Pacific Northwest, it's a big minus down here. We've discussed painting our hull white but we love the blue so much we may have to try a drape of some sort to cover the hull while at anchor to keep the heat down. We will have to see what we can find while we are back in Colorado in a month or so.
Well that's about it for now. We've confirmed our haul out with Marina Seca in San Carlos for June 12 at 1100. That's high tide and is the only time we can get near the haul out area. It's a nice harbor, but is shallow in areas. We'll let you know how the winds end up tomorrow.