05/19/2011, Los Gatos
At anchor in Los Gatos and how can I describe it. It's mostly surrounded by red rock maybe a sandstone type of rock and it has been sculpted by wind and waves into beautiful shapes and forms. I've taken lots of photos so I will upload when we get internet. As well as the red rock, the anchorage is also surrounded by sand dunes, dessert hills with cactus and scrub, and beyond that, the beautiful Giganta mountain range. Yesterday we spent a good part of the day snorkeling in the rocky reefs around the anchorage and hanging out on a beautiful beach surrounded by these red cliffs. The highlight was spotting an owl up on the cliff and I managed a few good photos of him before he flew away. It was a big owl maybe a great horned owl. It reminded me of my cat Farley as the colouring was similar and seeing the owl up on the cliff maybe 25 feet high, it's horns looked like big cat ears. (I guess I must really be missing my cat!) Anyhow it was thrilling to be able to look at it for so long before he flew off. Then it was back to the boat where we hosted a happy hour on board with the two other boats that were in the anchorage, Kashmira and Ponderosa. Lots of fun and a great day overall. Today, |an and Steve from Kashmira took off on a hike about 9:30am. Around 11 me and Steve's wife Sue went off on our own hike. We were a bit reluctant at first because as we pulled up to the beach, we spotted 2 coyotes walking on the beach. We decided to go anyhow and carry a couple of sticks. We had a great walk along a washed out creek where it looked as though a flood may have come through at some point. Today it was all bone dry. We hiked up into the cactus scrub to where we had a good view of the anchorage and the water. We had noticed some footprints as we were walking and decided that they were Ian's and Steves and about 2 hours later they came walking back towards us. On the way back to the boat, I got all excited about doing some snorkeling after a bite to eat, but by the time we ate Ian needed a nap and it was getting pretty late in the day. So that will hopefully be on tomorrows agenda. For now it's time to barbeque some dinner and then it will be bedtime. Busy day in the life of a cruiser.
05/18/2011, San Evaristo
Well since I last blogged, we have gone about 9 miles north. We are in no hurry and have no schedule to be anywhere so we are just taking our time as we go. We are anchored in a small bay called San Evaristo and there is a small village here that subsists on fishing. There are maybe 30 or 40 houses here and there is even a small school. There is also a small store where we have been able to buy some fresh produce. We happened to go in yesterday just after they got supplies from La Paz and there was a good selection of fruit and vegetables to choose from. It's a very different world from Canada. Not better or worse just different. For example yesterday when we went into the store, they had just butchered a cow outside the store and there were cow parts still laying about. We didn't try buying any meat as we still have lots in the freezer, but you couldn't get it any fresher. We bought some fish from one of the local fishermen the other day, a small red fish that we didn't catch the name of but talk about delicious! For 4 dollars, we bought a kilo which is enough for 3 meals. They seem to catch loads and loads of it out here. I don't know if it gets any bigger but they were all only about 8 to 10 inches long. A couple of days ago, we went across to San Jose Island about 4 miles from here, and anchored outside the lagoon for the day. We dingyed into the lagoon and went for a long walk along a very gravelly beach. It was interesting because the amount of shells and fish bones, bird bones other things that had washed up was amazing. You could hardly go 3 steps without stopping to pick up something of interest. I'm not collecting any shells because I have no place to keep them, but I could easily have collected a bag full. We are thinking that tomorrow we will leave here and head north about 30 miles or so to another anchorage that is supposed to be quite nice. We are just waiting for the NW winds to lighten as it can get rolly there in a moderate to strong NW wind. Not that they have been too strong to date but we seem to get a good 15 to 20 knot blow every day in the afternoon for a few hours. I've been taking lots of photos so I will have a whole slew to upload when we get to Escondito where they have internet. Till then it's just text updates via the ham radio. Oh yes! Speaking of ham radio, last night I spoke with Dinis from the sailboat Vida Nova and they are in the Marqueases in the South Pacific. That's about 3000 miles from here and we could hear each other very clearly!
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.
05/08/2011, 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.
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!
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.