Town Time with Elisabeth and John
19 March 2018
So we got Elisabeth and John a hotel room within walking distance from the boat. And then we all became La Paz tourists.
We have had some extraordinary food in the last few days. Pizza and “comida Mexicana” to start. One night we went to Costa Baja Resort for very good sushi rolls (pictured); one with lime and jalapeños, another with ginger and a slightly fruity sauce. We washed that down with a cold Sapporo. We also went to a restaurant known locally for its fish and had a whole variety of tacos filled with lobster, shrimp, marlin, manta ray, and so on. Elisabeth had a soup filled with different seafoods. We sat on the malecón and savored these flavors in the sunshine.
Part of our tourist regimen was to visit the Museo de Ballenas y Ciencias del Mar, where we learned all about marine mammals and other creatures that inhabit the local waters. We were able to touch turtle shells and whale balleens, among other experiences. The place seemed to hold the interest of the two young biologists.
One of the highlights of the weekend was a panga trip out into the sea to swim with whale sharks. The Whale Shark is not a whale, but the largest known extant fish species. It is a filter feeding shark. They are docile and a threatened species. We were not allowed to swim closer than two meters from their sides and not in front of them. The one we swam with was probably about eighteen to twenty feet long and massive. It was very exciting and just a bit intimidating to jump in the sea with it. There were fairly large waves at the time which was a bit disorienting. But we all got to see one underwater.
I put them on the bus to the airport in Cabo this morning. It was sad to see them go but I enjoyed my time with them immensely.
Next up, my niece Jane and her boyfriend Casey are arriving in the area today to kitesurf at La Ventana. And Ian arrives on Wednesday.
17 March 2018
The next day we headed out to Isla Espíritu Santo, about 20 miles north of the marina. It is a national park with a number of beautiful west facing coves that are protected from the prevailing northerlies. We anchored in Ensenada de Gallo and watched seals swimming and feeding while the sun dipped lower in the sky.
As we dined in the cockpit after sunset, we could hear the seals surfacing and breathing next to the boat. We all stood on the deck and watched their phosphorescent streaks as they swam near the boat. Everything that moved under the water was visible due to its phosphorescence, lending an eerie ghostlike quality to the scene. As the boat moved with the swell, the anchor chain disappeared below us like a long, dully glowing, out of focus, string light. And, more rarely, rays could be seen moving slowly by.
While Ensenada de Gallo afforded protection from the prevailing northerlies, it was not a good spot when the wind picked up from the southwest during the night. The motion of the boat awakened me at midnight and I watched it from the cockpit for a while. A bit after one, I decided to move to Ensenada de Gallino and anchor under a north-facing cliff. It was a bit tricky in the dark with no moonlight but we found a spot and dropped anchor in about 25 feet of smoother water.
The next day we snorkeled from the boat swimming to the steep sided shore. Beautiful fish swimming among the rocks and coral, seemed unconcerned by the presence of three large bodies above them. Later we took the dinghy in to shore but the bay shoaled so early that we turned back and then snorkeled again from the boat. The wind started to go round to the north late in the day so we moved back to Ensenada de Gallo and ate dinner with the seals again.
We spent time talking, reading, and making good food to eat. It was about as relaxing as a cruise could get. On our way back to La Paz, we stopped in Bahia Ballandra and took the dinghy ashore. We walked the beach and my two young biologists scoured the rocks and tide pools for marine life, no matter how tiny. I got totally caught up in their curiosity and was soon bent over tiny creatures myself.
La Paz: Invasion of the Young
17 March 2018
At Marina Cortez, I made acquaintance with many other cruisers. I was assigned a slip next to Mike and Melissa on Galapagos from Tacoma of all places. And I began to get ready for the invasion of the young. That could be the title of a sci-fi / horror flick or the name of a band.
My daughter and her boyfriend were to arrive Sunday night. Note the conditional past tense. Their plane was delayed causing them to miss their connection. They spent a night in Houston whilst United Airlines busied themselves losing Elisabeth’s suitcase. Once they got to Cabo the next day, they were told that they would have to wait and the bag would arrive the next day.
Already having lost 2 days of their short vacation with me in México, I elected to rent a car and drive to Cabo and pick them (and the errant suitcase) up. We spent the night at a resort there allowing me to sleep in a real bed for the first time in over two months. I also had not driven a car in that time. We were able to dine out at Los Bariles, the restaurant that Andrew and I had discovered when we were there in January. It was another 5 star meal, impeccably prepared and presented. The kids were impressed and we had a delightful time. We used the pool at the resort before leaving the next day.
The visit to Cabo allowed us to make a provisioning stop at Costco, where the parking lot had an incredible view of the sea and the Arches at the Cape. Afterward we grabbed the bag from United at the airport and headed back to La Paz. We dined on the malecón and then walked among the families enjoying the evening coolness.
On to La Paz
10 March 2018
I tried working on my autopilot again before I left Los Muertos. I followed the instructions for purging the system of air. I think I did not do it long enough because it still did not work as I headed out of the bay. The other possibility is that there is a leak in the system somewhere, but the reservoir of fluid has not dropped. Definitely need to fix this.
That meant hand steering for the day. I left Los Muertos at 0730 and arrived at Marina Cortez in La Paz at 1630. Luckily there was no wind in Cerralvo Channel. At the south end of Cerralvo is a place called La Ventana, renowned for its consistently strong northerly winds. Windsurfers and kitesurfers come from all over the world to play there. When I went by, it was flat calm.
After passing through Canal de San Lorenzo and turning the corner into Bahia de La Paz, the wind came up from the port quarter. I unfurled the jib and was notorsailing at a good clip into La Paz. At Marina Cortez some other cruisers came to take a line as I docked. I soon made friends with a few of them, which led to having dinner together and a lively conversation over pizza and a pleasant tempranillo. Despite my fatigue, I enjoyed the evening. Everyone out here has an interesting story about where they have been and how they started cruising.
Mazatlán to Ensenada de Los Muertos
10 March 2018
I had a few more days of fun in Mazatlán. I went to the old part of the city in the evening to dine and then partied in Plazuela Machado. I ate at a courtyard restaurant with a harpist playing music. In the plaza, multiple restaurants had music and people were dancing. I got absorbed into a group of Canadians who were a lot of fun. All in all it was a lovely evening.
I went to the Soriana Supermercado to get a few provisions. The night before I left I made a big pot of pasta to have reheatable meals on the passage. The next day I went for a walk around the harbor with a group of regular walkers, said goodbye to my friends, checked out of the marina, got my zarpe, and headed out of the harbor.
Immediately upon leaving there was a bit of breeze. I put the sails up. However the breeze was coming from the direction of La Paz. It was going to start out a beat.
Starboard tack had me pointing out past and south of Cabo San Lucas. I tacked on to port a couple of times to try to get some northing and discovered that my tracks showed that I was tacking through about 110 degrees. Either the boat was not pointing very high or I was fighting adverse current. So I stayed on starboard tack for about 100 miles out into the gulf before flopping over again to port tack. I kept hoping that I would get lifted on starboard (meaning the wind would shift right allowing me to point more towards my destination) but it did not happen.
It was a long journey. I sailed into the night all of the next day and night. On the second day in the afternoon the wind freshened to the point that I put the first reef in the mainsail and then the second. I sailed that way for most of the night and in the wee hours of the morning the wind lightened a bit and I went back to using the full mainsail. I was making very slow but steady progress towards Cerralvo Channel that leads into Bahia de La Paz. In the morning the wind died to the point that I elected to motor for a while. This gave me a chance to charge the batteries and run the refrigeration.
I thought that this was the lull in the wind that had been predicted before I left, but in the afternoon it came up briskly and I raised the main with both reefs in and the jib partially rolled up. The good news was that I was now headed for Cerralvo Channel. However, I was dead tired at this point.
I elected to head for Ensenada de Los Muertos (yes, Cove of the Dead). It was a beautiful and peaceful cove behind a point that protected it from the strong northerly winds and waves. As I entered the bight, there were splashes in the water off to starboard. At first I thought I was coming upon another family of dolphins, but as I got closer I realized that these were some type of fish jumping completely out of the water and making a loud smacking sound as they reentered the sea. It turns out that they were rays. I anchored about 6 pm and had dinner and a glass of wine. And then slept the sleep of the dead.
04 March 2018
Getting up to Mazatlán was a good step. Now that I am here, the wind is howling outside the harbor and pretty strong inside too.
The marina is in the Zona Dorado, well north of the old city. I took one of the ubiquitous open taxis to the downtown area. I quizzed my driver about local foods. I was directed to a restaurant where I had enchiladas filled with smoked marlin with a picante salsa. Quite tasty.
I walked through the Mercado. It was like Pike Place on steroids. I made the mistake of hesitating and making eye contact at a booth that sold clothing. It was too late to run. Two women pounced, insisting that I needed this and that. They were incredible saleswomen and knew all the tricks. The fruit and vegetable stands were fascinating and colorful. I scored a couple of mangos. I was occasionally entranced by the displays at the meat, fish, and cheese booths.
A cathedral, the Basilica de la Inmaculada Concepción, was described in the cruising guide as being of Moorish influence. It looked to me like a mixture of many styles. It was beautiful inside, as are many of these catholic churches in México.
The archeological museum was a display of the early prehispanic peoples who inhabited Sinaloa. I found it interesting that, like just about every other culture, they had their own unique creation story. The art museum did not excite me. The art was unimpressive to me, although it is possible that I just did not understand it. I was so much more impressed by the architecture and colors of the buildings in the old section of town.
I hope to go back into the old part of the city in the evening. I am told that it is beautifully lit. Plus there are good restaurants. Aahhh, so much good food, so little time.
Marina El Cid is a resort and privileges to use the pool and resort facilities are included with the moorage. I have been to the pool a couple of times now. There are fewer cruisers here than in La Cruz. The morning cruiser's net goes very quickly. My friends Wayne and Cyndie on Arluk III who I met in La Cruz arrived.
So the big question is, when to jump off for La Paz. It is pretty windy out there on the gulf. It will be 238 nautical miles to La Paz. That is a 2 day trip at least. After much thought, I think that I don't care if it is reasonably windy on this side. I would like it to be diminished when I get across, because I have to go northward through Cerralvo Channel, a notorious wind funnel when the northerlies are blowing. Right now, it looks like Tuesday will be the best day to leave.
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