08/26/2011, Bahia de las Animas
Since my last entry a week ago, we have enjoyed seeing a variety of wildlife. We always see small rays while we are anchored as they seem to take great pleasure in hurling themselves out of the water. I haven't identified them as to which species of ray they are, but they look like tiny Manta Rays. They are fun to watch when they swim around the bays too because they always go by in groups of 2 or more and their wing tips come out of the water as if they are flying along the surface in no particular hurry. The other thing we see a lot of is turtles. They are quite shy and come up for a quick breath and go down again so you have to be really watching for them to get a good look. Then the other day we were motoring along (no wind) and a Booby bird decided to land on our bowsprit. We were able to walk right up to him and touch it before it would leave the boat. It came back about 4 times and the last time it actually managed to tangle itself in Ian's fishing line that he was dragging behind the boat. We managed to get him out before the hook got into it. Just after we finished with that encounter, we spotted a Fin Whale laying just below the surface of the water. You could see it's small fin sticking out and see it blowing as it breathed. They are very long whales and it was much longer than the boat. Our next trip we were in some rough water and we managed to spot a Sperm Whale as it's head came out of the water. That was pretty exciting! They have such a large rectangular shaped head. I would have loved to stop the boat and spend some time watching but it was much to rough to even think of doing that. Here in the eastern bay in Bahia de las Animas, on the beach there are some interesting things to see. At the far end of the beach is a big whale skull and some other bones around. It's not quite 'clean' yet and it smells pretty ripe. When the tide is in it partially covers the skull and you can see oil floating off of it. When I can I will post a photo of Ian standing beside it so you can see how large it is. On the same beach further along, we came across some dolphin bones. We pretty much found the entire spine intact, and the other parts were scattered about. It's sad to see all these dead things on the beach but at the same time you get to see how these animals are built. I just wonder why they are there were they just old and died a natural death, or were they hurt by a boat or some other marine animal? It's really great to have the chance to observe all of these creatures from the comfort of our home. It is our TV. We just have to look outside and the nature channel is always on.
08/17/2011, Bahia San Francisquito
Yesterday the day started out pleasantly enough as we woke up to dolphins feeding around the boat. Around 10am Ian and I decided to go for a walk to a bay across the mile wide spit where we are now anchored. There is a runway there for small planes and an abandoned resort. We walked the beach for a while and chatted with a Mexican family who are camped there. As we started to walk back to our bay, we noticed that there was a large bank of dark clouds out in the Sea but was coming our way. We started to walk faster and faster as the black clouds started to overtake us. We arrived at our beach and jumped into the dingy just as the first gust hit and it hit hard. One of the other cruisers in the bay said that the first few gusts were in the 40 to 45 knot range. In the 2 minutes or less that it took us to motor to our boat, there were whitecaps on the water. We got aboard and as Ian got the dingy hooked onto the davits ready to haul out of the water, I ran forward and started to remove the sunshade cover. When I let go of the front of it, it whipped right out of my hands and was waving wildly in the wind. Between Ian and I we managed to get it under control and stowed away before any damage could be done. We stowed the wind scope and closed the forward hatch as by now the sand from the beach and surrounding hills was in the air and we were getting sandblasted. The first hour was the strongest winds and then they slowly diminished over the next 2 hours. By the time they got down to about 15 knots, our boat was covered in sand - what a mess! We have heard and read about this weather event called a Chabasco, and now we know what it is from experience. I'm glad we got to experience the first one in the day time which is rare, and that we are in a very protected anchorage. Because it is so protected where we are, there is no big waves that can build up so we only had to deal with the wind. We fared better than some of the boats that had left here in the morning as they got hit with it at sea and had a rather wild ride before they got to a safe anchorage. Anyhow the good news is that everyone is okay and made it safely to where they were going with only one boat that we heard of that sustained some damage to the boat. You can be sure that when we see dark clouds on the horizon we will be preparing for them. Today is Ian's birthday and I've just finished baking him some cupcakes. This evening we will share some of them with the other boats that are here in the anchorage with us. We have decided to stay put here for a couple more days as the weather is a bit unsettled at the moment and we feel this is a good, safe place to be right now. So for now it's just another day in the Baja and we will enjoy the swimming and the beach.
08/12/2011, Santa Rosalia
Well it's been a while since I last posted a blog. When I left Toronto, I spent a couple of weeks in Winnipeg visiting with family and friends. Got to spend a lot of quality time with my dad and am very happy about that. My friend Maureen was also in Winnipeg and we drove out to her cottage on Lake of the Woods in Ontario for 3 days. Then it was off to Vancouver where I spent a busy 11 days catching up with old friends and doing a lot of shopping for things for the boat that we can't get down here. It was great fun and I really enjoyed every minute of my whole trip.
Ian was a trooper and spent the entire month on the boat working on various boat projects. He managed to accoplish quite a bit of work considering the heat here. It did help that some cruisers who have gone to San Diego for 2 months and left their boat here offered him the use of their air conditioner. It makes it really easy to live here with that. But you get hit with the heat as soon as you walk out the campanion way whew! It's HOT!
Since I've been back, I launched into a sewing project. I'm making cotton slip covers for our settee. It's much more comfortable to sit on cotton when it's this hot out. The velveteen type material on the cushions just makes you feel hotter and we don't want to sweat on them as they would be harder to wash. The cotton just comes off and washes so easy. Once I'm done that (hopefully today) we are going to provision the boat for the rest of the summer and head north on Sunday or Monday depending on the weather.
Unfortunatly our good friends on Kashmira won't be back from Long Beach California for another week or two so we won't be travelling with them. We hope to catch up with them again at some point but don't know when that will be. That is the fun of this you meet great people and go your seperate ways only to run into each other again down the road.
That about catchs me up to date on happenings with us. I've uploaded a few pictures of my trip home.
On vacation aye... I can just see some of you rolling your eyes as after all am I not already on a permanent vacation. Yes and no, what it is for us is a way of life. Because along with all the good stuff like seeing whales, meeting great new friends, going to fabulous beaches with no one else on them, we also have bad stuff like weather to be careful of, heat that can melt the skin off of your bones if your not careful, things that need fixing despite the fact it's over a hundred degrees inside the boat. So from the good and bad of our cruising life I am on vacation.
I had always planned to come home at some point in the first year to visit family and friends. Now seemed as good as any time to do it.
Here is a rundown of the vacation so far. I took the bus from Santa Rosalia to Tijuana - a mere 15 hour bus ride. We had 3 army checkpoints along the way 2 of which you had to get off the bus and go through your luggage with a guard. The third stop an army guy just wandered on the bus with a flashlight. The bus was the dirtiest one I've ever seen the toilet was AWFUL!! My arm rest was missing so it made the seat wider but not as comfortable. (This bus in no way represents the buses in Mexico. Most of the ones I've ridden have been very clean).
I managed to doze off and on throughout the night. Anyhow woke up around 8:30 am as we were arriving in what I thought was Tijuana. Turns out it was Ensenada and the bus stopped there and the driver got off an never said a word. About half an hour later he got back on and told us we had to change to a different bus as that bus only went as far as Ensenada!! I wasn't the only confused looking person aboard. Anyhow on to the other bus and another 2 hours to Tijuana. By the time I got there I was feeling quite tired of bus travel. The driver let us all off where you could either get into the mile long line up for the boarder, or get into a cab/van with 14 others and go into a 'faster' lane to the boarder. I chose the latter and just as I was getting into the van, I realized I didn't have my backpack!! I jumped out and the guy loading my duffel was such a saint. He grabbed my bag and me and we ran across the street and jumped into a cab. We went about 3 blocks to the bus station and the bus was there. My backpack was in the lost and found. I was in tears I was so relieved because my computer was in it. Anyhow then me and my saviour walked back to the place we started from with him carrying my duffel bag - which I'm finding really heavy by the way. So when we get to another van/cab I pulled out a couple of hundred pesos and gave it to him I was so happy to have my pack and computer back. He eyebrows went way up and a big smile on his face.
Once through the boarder my friends Penny and Fred from the boat Tapatai (met in Mexico) were there to pick me up. We went to their beautiful home in Point Loma and they made me feel right at home. We had a great couple of days together. One afternoon we played Mexican Train Dominoes with 8 other cruisers and then went to Sue and Bill's boat Sun Baby who had also just returned from Mexico as well as the other two couples aboard, Darryl and Sarah and Sally and Whity. So it was just like we were all still cruising. For me it was a great transition from cruising to north american culture.
Then my 2 days were up and the next destination was Toronto. Penny and Fred dropped me at the airport and I flew non stop to Toronto which was about a 6 hour flight. I'm visiting my sister Linda here and we have been out exploring various parts of the city. It's a big, noisy place and I don't know if I can get used to this. Maybe I've become more sensitive to noise being out at sea. Anyhow it's good to see her and that's why I came. This afternoon we are off to explore the harbourfront and see what's happening down there. Tomorrow I fly of to Winnipeg to see my dad and sister and brother and friends.
Had a quick skype with Ian who is back on board Kasasa in Santa Rosalia. Sounds like things are going well there. It's cooled down to bearable now and he is able to get some work done on the boat as well as explore the town some more.
07/07/2011, Santa Rosalia
I can't believe it is already the 7th of July. Even though we have been gone for over 8 months now it seems to have just flown by. And in a few days I will be winging my way home to Canada for a holiday from my holiday!
We enjoyed a great July 4th in Bahia Concepcion and met lots of new people.
We left early the next morning and headed out of the bay and went about 25 miles and decided to stop for the night at Punta Chivato for the night. Since the winds were from the NE we anchored on the S side of the pointl. Ian and I went in the dingy to the beach and boy did we hit SHELL HEAVEN! We arrived at the beach and I was out of the dingy and had 10 shells in hand when Ian said 'humm do you mind helping me pull the dingy out of the water'. Oh yeah! I got so excited about the shells I completly forgot the routine. Anyhow within 45 minutes I had a bucket full of beautiful shells. And there are thousands more where they came from. I felt like a junkie I just couldn't stop picking them up! So look out friends back home I'm coming with shells for you, unless they confinscate them at the boarder. On our way back to the boat we were treated to a sighting of a Whale Shark. These are one of the biggest fish in the ocean. They are a shark but they are totally docile and only eat plankton which is a microscopic thing. God had some sense of humor when he made these guys as they look shark like, they are really big (up to 45 feet) and they are covered in polka dots! Hard to be afraid of a fish covered in dots!
That night we got some swells coming in the anchorage and for about 3 hours we were going up and down over and over. Not great for sleeping. Luckily they settled down and we got some sleep.
Next morning we left at about 6:45am and sailed for a couple of hours before the winds died and we had to motor. We saw lots of wildlife on our passage to Santa Rosalia. We saw a couple of whales that we identified in our book as Sei Whales. We saw a huge pod of 200 or so dolphins jumping about, and we saw another whale which we couldn't identify. Lots of wildlife out here.
We arrived in Santa Rosalia at about 1:30 in the afternoon and despite having a reservation at the marina, it was full. Lucky for us there was a boat leaving just after we arrived. I guess reservation in Mexican means 'who ever comes first'. It's all good though as we have a good spot and Ian will be here for over a month as I leave in a few days to go to Canada for a month.
I've uploaded some photos to a gallery called San Juanico to Santa Rosalia.
07/01/2011, Bahia Concepcion
Last night for the first time in over 8 months, we saw rain. It was very light and barely wet the boat but it was truly rain. And tonight there is a chance of rain again. We are now in the months of the Chubasco's which is a weather happening here that you want to always be aware of. It begins on the mainland side of the Sea of Cortez and you can see it from this side, it's lightning. On the other side it rains a lot in the summer, but on this side not so much except during one of these summer storms called Chubascos. They are (and this is only what I've been told, we luckily haven't experienced one yet) brief but very intense storms of thunder and lightning and rain with very strong winds. The worst part is that they happen at night so you have to always make sure that your anchor is well set and that anything that can blow off of your boat is well secured. Today was the 4th of July and we celebrated it with about 30 other cruising boats in El Burro Cove in Bahia Concepcion. It was a lot of fun and the food was great. Geary the local weather guru provided the hot dogs and everyone brought a dish for a potluck. There was a concession selling beer, water and sodas and there were some enterprising Mexicans selling the usual beach wear and blankets. It was a beautiful day with some cloud but still very warm. We also were able to celebrate Canada Day on the first as we were invited to a dinner party on another Canadian boat so we are getting all our holidays in. We have really been meeting so many great people here. Some of the folks cruising here have been coming back year after year and it's great for us 'newbies' to chat with them and find out the in's and out's of living in the heat, dealing with the weather and the best places to buy food and fuel. Tomorrow we are planning on leaving to head up to Santa Rosalia. We will probably go half way tomorrow and then arrive there on Wed. or Thurs. There is a lot of history in Santa Rosalia and there is a church there built by the same architect who built the Eiffel Tower. The town was a bustling place in the early part of the 1900's as there was a large copper mine there. It sounds like an interesting place to visit. I will be able to post some photos from there as we should have a good internet connection from there.