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Trading Palm Trees for Cactus
05/13/2011, Isla San Francisco

We left La Paz 5 days ago and since then we have seen no palm trees. We are truly in the dessert now. It's just rock and cactus but oh so fascinating to look at. The colours are so contrasting with the reds and browns of the mountains and the greens of the cactus and shrubs that manage to grow on the rocks against the turquoise blues and greens of the sea against the white sand beaches. Although I've recently taken a few watercolour painting classes in La Paz, I don't think I could ever capture these colours on paper or even on my camera. Our trip north into the Sea of Cortez has begun. While Ian and I were planning this whole offshore cruising gig, one of the places we dreamed about seeing was the Sea of Cortez. It holds some kind of magic for us what I don't know yet but we will find out in the next 6 months. It's going to be hot! Hotter than we can even imagine I'm sure, but from the people who have actually done this trip in the summer, we have heard nothing but positive things. Worth the heat and the summer storms. We have met people who come back year after year. We just met a couple who opted to do the summer in the sea instead of their usual winter in the sea. We will go about 4 hundred miles or so north of La Paz to a place called Bay of Los Angels. It has a bay within the bay that is a known hurricane hole should the unthinkable happen and a hurricane make it that far north. It is supposed to be full of wildlife in the sea and crystal clear water. We will be out of internet and cell phone range for a good part of the time that we are cruising in this area. There will be 2 or 3 towns along the way that we may be able to connect. That will be a challenge for me as I love to go online and read emails, blogs and news. But at least we have the ham radio and the modem to do emails and update the blog so I will just have to make do. The other thing is we will not have many grocery stores along the way. I've provisioned the boat with lots of canned goods and some dried stuff to see us through those times between grocery stores. The freezer is full and I know at some point I will have to make bread. And we will also have to do laundry by hand! I've gotten used to the mexican laundry where you drop it off in the morning and pick it up at the end of the day all folded nicely. Today we swam off the boat in water that was 23.5 degrees! It seems to get warmer every day. And talk about clear, I thought that in Ensenada Grande on Isla Partida (just outside of La Paz) that the water was clear, well we are only 20 miles north of that and it's crystal clear. I don't know if it can get any clearer! Tomorrow we will go for a snorkel and check out the clarity. Ian said fishing today he could see his lure flashing in 30 feet of water. I'll let you know how it is.

05/15/2011 | dick towson

Enjoy the time there and we will be watching how it goes for both of you as we are now in cold, rain etc. here in BC.

Wish we were there!!

Anne and Dick
05/17/2011 | Penny
Hi, wonder where you're at now . . Fred is still in Cabo as are several other boats all waiting for a weather window to start the bash. Will keep looking for your posts!
The People You Meet
05/08/2011, La Paz

Well today is a sad day. We said good bye to our good friends Penny and Fred from Tapatai as they are taking their boat back home to San Diego. That is one of the bittersweet things about this lifestyle. You meet lots of people. Some of them you hang with for a while and each go your own way at some point knowing that in a few days, months or whenever you may run into each other again in an anchorage along the way. But there are some people that are finished this part of their adventures and are heading home.
Penny and Fred were one of the first boats we met shortly after arriving in Mexico. We quickly became good friends and hung out together. We had similar routes and stops planned out for the winter so it was easy to run into each other along the way south to Barra-de-Navida. Sometimes it was a few days before we'd see each other, and sometimes a month might go by but we always knew (via email) where they were and they knew where we were and that we would see each other soon.
Well today they untied the dock lines and are officially on their way home. Fred with a few good friends will do what is called the 'Bash' back up the outside of the Baja back to San Diego. Penny will do the sensible thing and fly home which is the best way to go to windward! We want to tell you guys in this blog how much we have enjoyed meeting you and enjoyed your company. Your zest for life and your love and respect for each other are very much a part of why we loved spending time with you.
But it's time to move on and so we too will untie the dock lines this week and head north on the inside of the Baja as we make our way up to the Bay of Los Angels (in Mexico) for the summer. We are ready to go - the fridge is full, the sunshade is finished (finally) and once we top up the fuel tanks tomorrow we are off. We are in no hurry as we have lots of time to get there. We hope to be in Bahi de Conception by early July and in the bay of LA in August.
La Paz is a great place to spend some time. It's a wonderful town that is full of friendly and helpful people. It's one of the cleanest Mexican towns I've seen. There are lots of stores, marine stores, marinas and restaurants and lots and lots of cruisers too! But it is still a city and we crave the solitude of a quiet anchorage where we can just jump into the water for a swim and walk on the beach. From what we hear, solitude is easy to find as you go north. It's still quite remote without much for tourism and there will not be lots of of places for internet or phone access. So our next few blogs will most likely be via the ham radio.
Hasta luego everyone.

05/13/2011 | Penny
Ahhh Ellen, your blog gave me and Fred a good cry. Well, we will look forward to continuing meeting up together and sharing all of the stuff that has happened to each of us. Today is my travel day and it's bittersweet - I hate to leave Fred and Tapatai! Hugs to you and Ian - I wish safe travels to all of good friends out there.
05/13/2011 | pat
Parting ways with special people is so difficult!!! Your paths will cross again....I know it. It was also a pleasure to meet Penny and Fred in La Paz. Happy sailing you two.
04/30/2011, La Paz

We have or I should say had a swarm of bees on the boat this morning. It started on the day we came in to the marina, we couldn't get into our slip because the boat that was supposed to leave couldn't because they had a swarm. So we waited for 4 or 5 hours while they tried to get rid of it which they mostly did. When we pulled into the slip, Ian and Les spent an hour killing bees and we thought that that was the last of it.
Well this morning when we left the boat, we walked by the bowsprit and I spotted this big ball of BEES! I hightailed it back into the boat and grabbed my purse and shut the hatches. I told Ian I was going out for the day and please have the marina do something! I may be brave and adventurous in somethings, but when it comes to flying or crawling things, especially those that can bite or sting, I am a COWARD!
My friend Penny on Tapatai says that we have the worst luck when it comes to marinas what with the Tsunami while we were at dock and now this.
Anyhow the marina called the fire department who came down and between them and the marina staff, they got rid of almost the whole swarm. There were still about 30 or 40 bees still hanging around the bowsprit this afternoon, but now that it's dark, Ian took some soapy water and sprayed them and they fell off into the water so hopefully that is the last of them.
We have heard that you can get bees on your boat up in the sea of Cortez and that they are looking for water. I hope we have had our share and won't get any more for the rest of the summer!

05/02/2011 | penny
Rumor has it that Ellen actually wanted a "day out shopping" and contracted with a certain queen bee to call in the troops so as she would have a good excuse.
Loving the Baja
04/28/2011, La Paz

After a couple of good nights sleep in Bahia de los Muertos, we headed up to Isla Espiritu Santo for a few days. This island is stunning and has so many places to anchor. Our first anchorage was Puerto Ballena on the south end of the island. It is one of the less popular anchorages and we had it to ourselves for the first 24 hours. The reason for this is that in this bay there are some small flies known as Bobo's. They land on you but don't bite. We put up the sunshades and we weren't bothered by them anymore. We enjoyed a beautiful afternoon of swimming and hiking on the beach for shells. After a great day and a great dinner, we were in bed early because we had gotten up at 5 that morning to make the trip from Muertos.
About an hour after going to sleep, we were woken up by a howling wind in the rigging. Looks like it was a Coromuel wind which is a local (to this area) wind that comes up at night. It really blew hard and Ian decided to lay in the cockpit for a couple of hours on anchor watch. He came back to bed around 3:30 as the wind seemed to be dying. About an hour later it started up again but we knew that the anchor was well set so we just went back to sleep.
We spent another day there swimming, fishing and hiking and hanging out and again another night with a Coromuel. By now we are getting used to 20+ knot winds blowing all night.
We moved to another bay on our 3rd day on the island called Ensenada Grande and WOW! It is so beautiful. There are 4 white sand beaches in this anchorage. The colours of the water go from deep blue to the palest of greens as the water shallows out towards the beach. I don't think I'll ever get tired of the colour of the water here.
The four of us (our friends Pat and Les are with us) decided to do a hike up the valley which we were told was an hour each way. We had good intentions of starting early but it was 10 am before we got going. The hike started out flat and gradually got steeper as we went up. We were going up what looked like a creek bed although I don't know when it last saw water. About an hour and a half into the hike, I almost quit and turned around it was so hot. But I mustered on and am glad that I did. It turned into about a 3 hour hike for us and boy was it hot right in the middle of the day. The first thing we did when we got down was strip down into our undies and t-shirts and jump in the water to cool down. Another perfect day and another Coromuel that night!
The next day we headed south to an anchorage called Balandra just around the corner from La Paz. Another beautiful place. We walked from the beach at Balandra to a beach called Tecolote Beach and there enjoyed a meal and a few margaritas at a restaurant - the first money we spent in 5 days! That night we had our worst Coromuel yet. Ian spent a part of the night in the cockpit again as there were lots of boats upwind of us and he wanted to make sure they didn't drag down on us. I hardly slept a wink as the wind was so loud. We don't have a wind speed indicator on our boat, but both Ian and I agree that the wind was around 30 knots with stronger gusts. It was after 4 am before I finally fell asleep and even then I kept waking up as the wind screamed through the rigging. It's beautiful here but I'll be happy to be out of the Coromuel range which is about 70 miles north of here.
We are now in the charming town of La Paz and have decided to stay at a marina for a couple of weeks. We have some maintenance things to do on the boat and it's so much easier when you are at the dock. Our friends Pat and Les left today to return home and we will miss them. We had such a great time again and it was really great to have company for the almost 2 day crossing from Mazatlan. So we will be in La Paz till around the 9th of May before we start heading more northwards.

04/29/2011 | camelia and Bob
What a great picture. I love the colour of the water and you both look so wonderful. Only four more months till we leave. Take care and be safe.
04/30/2011 | Pamela and Pat
What gorgeous photos of all those idyllic places, Sis and Bro! We are so thrilled to be sharing your journey through your wonderful updates and wish we could be there with you. Love from us both. P&P
05/04/2011 | jean
WoW! What a beautiful spot and photo of you both. Love the water colour - so inviting. Glad you got to enjoy it.
Sapphire Blue and Emerald Green
04/20/2011, En route to Isla Espiritu Santo

In the last blog, we were doing a passage across the Sea of Cortez from Mazatlan to Bahai de los Muertos which was about 190 miles. The trip took us 38 hours and we sailed only about 2 hours the rest of it we were motor sailing because of course the wind was mostly on the nose. We saw lots of sea turtles, rays. some whales and towards the last day lots of dolphins including a great dolphin show right beside the boat with one dolphin jumping out of the water 5 feet away from the boat and jumping about 12 feet high - twice!! We also had
lots of them swimming in the bow wake and got some good video and photos which I will post when I get a good internet connection.
The other thing that was spectacular was the colour of the water. In the middle of the sea it became this amazing blue colour that I think of as sapphire. Stunning.
We arrived in Bahai de los Muertos (Bay of the Dead) at 10:30 pm and by 11 we had the anchor down in calm conditions with a slight SW breeze. At about 3 am we woke up to the winds howling through the achorage at about 20 knots. This was our first Coromuel Wind which is a common night time wind that happens in this area in certain conditions. This one only lasted about an hour and then it settled right back down to nothing.
We woke up in the morning after a great sleep to calm clear Emerald Green water! WOW the colour is so beautiful. I am going to love the baja I know it. And we could see down 25 feet to the bottom. We had a very leisurely morning and then the 4 of us went ashore for a walk on the beach followed by some snorkeling over a beautiful reef. Lots of fish to see down there.
Around 5 pm there was a cruisers get together on the beach with about 15 boats in attendance. Nice to meet everyone and catch up with those we already knew. Arriving there on the beach we had a bit of a surf landing to do and with 4 in the dingy it was a bit different. Pat and Les got out and then I jumped out and tried to turn to help pull the dingy in and instead got pushed over by it and down on my butt into the water! A great way to make an entrance.
Around 7 pm the 4 of us headed over to the restaurant on the beach now called 1535 previously called The Giggling Marlin. We had an awesome dinner. Very good food and lots on the plate - too much in fact. Back on board Kasasa around 9:30 pm and off to bed as we wanted to get an early start in the morning.
Ian and I got up at 6 am and let our guests sleep in as we got the anchor up and the boat underway. We are heading to Isla Espiritu Santo which is an island off of La Paz with lots of good anchorages around it. It's about a 45 mile run from Bahia de los Muertos which will take us 9 or 10 hours. So hopefully by 4pm we will be dropping the anchor and pouring ourselves a margarita as we enjoy another great day!

A Wonderful Surprise
04/17/2011, Enroute to Bahai de los Muertos

We had a wonderful email on Wednesday last week from our friends Pat and Les, the couple who sailed for two weeks with us when we left San Diego. They were tired of winter and needed a break and was our offer of having them return still open. Well of course it was so I emailed back and then a few phone calls later and we were picking them up at the airport on Friday afternoon. They had the option of sailing across to the Baja with us or to meet us over there and they took the sailing across option!! Yippee as it makes for a much more restful and fun passage with more than 2 people aboard and it's a 185 mile passage. So Friday we picked them up and we spent Saturday visiting with friends on another boat called Tanque de Tiburon with Bill and Linda aboard. We finished our provisioning and we were up at 7 am this morning ready to go. It was very foggy out as we left the harbour in Mazatlan but with the radar on no problem getting out. Right now we are about 20 miles out and the seas are calm and flat and we are motoring along. There is supposed to be 10 to 15 from the SW so we will see if that happens. In the meantime we are relaxed and enjoying the ride and seeing lots of small rays and sea turtles. We think we saw a marlin but not exactly sure. Our plan is to anchor out in various bays around the La Paz area for a week or so and then head into La Paz for a few days. Les and Pat will leave us from there and take the bus down to San Jose del Cabo and fly home from there. It's so nice to have them back on the boat again as we had such a great time the last time they were with us. Well I'd better try sending this off via the radio, it's been awhile since I used it I hope I can remember how. 5 Hours Later Couldn't get this email through so I'll try again now. The sun has just set and the full moon has just risen so we will have a well lit night. Still motoring with a bit of wind on the nose.

04/20/2011 | Wendy
It's terrific to have this blog so we can see what you're up to. Please keep enjoying yourselves & may the wind always be in your sails. big hugs

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