Little Green Boat

Spruce visited Japan and Alaska in 2018 after time spent in the South Pacific, NZ, Australia and Asia.

29 November 2019 | San Evaristo - Baja California - Mexico
28 November 2019 | San Evaristo - Baja Peninsula - Mexico
20 November 2019 | La Paz - Baja California Sur - Mexico
20 November 2019
13 November 2019 | Bahia Los Muertos - Baja Peninsula - Mexico
11 November 2019 | Bahia Los Friales - Baja Peninsula - Mexico
07 November 2019 | Bahia Tortuga - Baja Peninsula - Mexico
31 October 2019 | Bahia Tortuga - Baja Peninsula - Mexico
30 October 2019 | Isla San Martin
28 October 2019 | Isla San Martin
27 October 2019 | Ensenada and on Southwards
16 October 2019 | Ensenada - Mexico
16 October 2019
14 October 2019 | On Passage Santa Catalina to Ensenada
07 October 2019 | San Miguel - California
04 October 2019 | On Passage - Morro Bay to San Miguel
29 September 2019 | Sausalito - California - USA
29 September 2019
29 September 2019 | Santa Cruz - California - USA
29 September 2019 | Monterrey - California - USA

Slip Sliding Away

29 November 2019 | San Evaristo - Baja California - Mexico
Sue & Andy
The latest meteorological disturbance passed through with only a minor probability of developing cyclonic characteristics reported... winds of up to gale force affected some regions, our snug anchorage behind the Sierra Giganta, and more locally the cliffs north of San Evaristo, suited us perfectly. A brief period of winds gusting to 27-knots in the wee small hours with mostly much less of a breeze for the couple of days we hunkered down.
What did arrive in our location was a heavy dousing of rainfall that came shortly after the recent tropical storm. A post-latest-depression walk into the local village of San Evaristo was a skid-prone affair in places. The route through this quagmire (photo) was best taken by following the tyre-marks of a truck's passage. Bronwyn (foreground) adhered to this instruction until she thought the smooth surface alongside looked better...big mistake, but then we all learn by experience. Far left is Stephanie practising the flip-flop slide, this technique worked surprisingly well until footwear became detached from foot. Sue watched smugly, standing firmly in the correct track, wearing a pair of substantial walking boots... until a local dog bounded over and threw its muddy self at her. A good splattering of mud was had by all. Even Ada's dainty steps, seen behind Bronwyn, failed to avoid the dog's liberal daubing with mud; probably her high pitched excited squealing merely encouraged it to greater endeavours of close contact.
Following the rainy day before, cooped up on board, the chance for a walk was much appreciated. The village boasted a small beach-cafe that rustled up a freshly made lunch of quesadillas. It was a fine day out. The crews of Arena and Spruce first met in Ensenada some six weeks ago. Yesterday we said our fond farewells, hauled our anchors aboard, and sailed our separate ways. They are heading south a full month ahead of us, perhaps we shall meet again in a few weeks. They will return north before the next hurricane season and we will go on south to exit the hurricane zone in that alternative direction.
For now, we shall continue our cruise in the Sea of Cortes, we hope to travel as far north as Concepcion, or maybe Santa Rosalia, on the Baja Californian shore �... before running south and east with the winter northerlies, and back into the Pacific Ocean on the Mexican mainland side.

Red Magic

28 November 2019 | San Evaristo - Baja Peninsula - Mexico
Sue & Andy
The vistas in the islands to the north of La Paz are quite remarkable. Volcanic and meteorological sculptors have shaped awe inspiring edifices of crag, crater and buttress into a sumptuous palette of rouges; thin waterfront edges are tinged with tantalising fringes of light coloured fine coral sand. Eons of water borne erosion and heat cracking of rock have worked their surreptitious magic to inexorably carve sinuous ravines and canyons through freshly uplifted landscapes. On the Baja Peninsula, farther north towards San Evaristo, beautiful layers of multi-coloured sedimentary rock arise in the form of Las Gigantas. A mountain range that extends north towards Concepcion. In early morning light, intriguing shades of blue, green and reds sit placidly, mostly in horizontal layers. Layers probably deposited on the sea-bed, long before dinosaurs roamed the planet... since uplifted by unimaginable tectonic forces into silent rhythms of majestic multi-coloured wonderment.
Arid climatic conditions usually leave this terrain sparsely blessed with flora. Recently, significant bouts of late season precipitation rolled turbulently northwards from humid equatorial regions. This much needed rainfall has temporarily ended a seemingly interminable drought. Locals have commented the hills have not been so verdant for two decades. Urgent activity abounds. Seeds germinate, plants bud, flowers and colour erupt. Nature rushes to utilise the unexpected bounty of liquid. Butterflies float, insects buzz, birds flit. With pollination completed the process of creating the next generation continues apace. New seed will be randomly scattered; poised, patiently waiting for the next arrival of desperately sought moisture.
Sailing travels have taken us to many diverse regions of our wondrous planet. It is always a delight to encounter something new, different from sights seen before. The Baja coast of Mexico certainly offers that. Away from urban development, into less populated zones north of La Paz, a different perspective can be found of northern Mexico, a region rapidly being developed and changed to suit the tastes of affluent visitors from the north. Our hope is that the unique spirit of this remarkable region will be protected, and retained for many future generations to savour.

South in the Baja

20 November 2019 | La Paz - Baja California Sur - Mexico
Sue & Andy Warman
The Tropical Depression was duly upgraded to Storm and christened Raymond. European and US weather models were periodically updated and between them they covered the two extremes of the possible storm track predicted by the Hurricane Centre at Miami. One model favoured a stronger impact at the southern Baja Peninsula, the other thought earlier dissipation more likely. As the system approached, high level winds basically distorted the top of the convection column and it lost impetus. In La Paz we were spared high wind speeds, and even the potential for huge volumes of rain lessened. All a bit of damp squib, you may think. But in the aftermath, with the power of hindsight, and the uncertainty of precisely where, how intense and exactly when it will arrive all history, these powerhouses of climatic energy seem far less threatening. Unexpected cyclones can develop early and late in so called seasons, we shall continue to treat such disturbances with the utmost respect.

20 November 2019
Sue & Andy Warman
La Paz is another town created during the 1600s in the time of the former Spanish Empire. Although the first Spanish ship visited the area much earlier in the 1530s. Nowadays the region is fast growing with tourism outpacing the more traditional fishing, agriculture and silver mining. The region north of here contains a number of less developed island groups scattered in the south western corner of the Sea of Cortes. This we hope to make our cruising ground for the next couple months.
This is our first time in this part of the world. There are several marinas and boat services available in La Paz. There is a large community of ex-pat boat dwellers, primarily from the USA. Radio Net traffic seems to suggest there are also many boats who will soon arrive here from summer periods ashore farther north in the Sea of Cortes. It is not quite clear how many might be going on southwards and cruising beyond Mexico to Panama or into the South Pacific. In some respects there are similarities to the cruising scene we encountered in the Caribbean during 2009-2012, with many “snowbirds” remaining in tropical climes throughout the northern winter, but destined to park the boat and go home when the snow has melted, during the tropical cyclone season.
La Paz has provided a short stop to resolve our refrigeration problem, stock up with fresh provisions, replenish LPG for cooking, refuel, sample some Mexican food and to meet a few people. The good ship s/y Second Wind with Nelson, Bruce and Dennis aboard, we saw them at earlier anchorages. They have completed their delivery trip to get Nelson and his boat from Oregon and into the Sea of Cortes for the winter. Several other boats have spent between two and many years in the La Paz region. Other boats coming south from the USA are starting to arrive. Tropical Storm Raymond put a delay into many folks itineraries.
For now, we shall focus on slowing down a little, seeing some new sights and continue to grapple with the Spanish language. This time we are determined to raise our competency beyond that achieved previously in Columbia, Panama and Ecuador.

Dead does not always mean Dead

13 November 2019 | Bahia Los Muertos - Baja Peninsula - Mexico
Sue & Andy
The bay of Los Muertos is named not after The Dead, but something rather like A Deadman, an anchoring point secured in the seabed to which a vessel can be moored. In this particular case the anchor points were railway-wagon axles and the vessels were barges that used to transport silver-ore in the 1920s. The name remained until the tourist industry built a restaurant and small local hotel. Bahia Muertos was transformed into Bahia Suenos, or Bay of Dreams, perhaps it was thought to scan better in the brochure.
Sue is back in dreamland, placed upon a beach laid deep in white broken coral, with a few shells different from those seen before. Our footfall caused the coral to chink musically, although the notes sounded slightly flat with each step. Sue chirped �"This shell is like those in Panama, except for the different colour, and the shape is not quite the same.�"
The backdrop of tall cacti feels quite different to us, more reminiscent of a road trip across Arizona a few years ago. This greener landscape continues, still arid, but it is far more interesting than some of the scenery already mentioned farther north. Frail, colourful flowers bravely resist an intense solar battering. A plethora of varied plants cluster wherever moisture lies below the surface. A smattering of land birds briefly perch, they included a Sharp-Shinned Hawk, and a Northern Mocking Bird. A few others flitted past but remained unidentified. One in splendid silhouette was clearly a type of woodpecker, but he unexpectedly latched onto a tall cactus, head hammering silently home.
Tomorrow we go on towards La Paz. An unwelcome Tropical Depression is lurking far to the south and moving northwards. Different weather models give different predictions. One says it will arrive on Sunday, another predicts dissipation while still 150-miles to the south. We continue to monitor its progress with an active interest...and cheer for the early dissipation outcome.

Los Cabos & Eastwards

11 November 2019 | Bahia Los Friales - Baja Peninsula - Mexico
Sue & Andy
Our passage from Bahia Santa Maria was accompanied by light winds from astern. It became evident, we would be motor-sailing most of the way so we set our speed target to arrive somewhere on the south coast to avoid starting a second night at sea. A rocky high coastline north of Cabo San Lucas emerged dramatically in an orange pre-dawn glow. Craggy peaks, distorted igneous and sedimentary rock formations distinctly showed their relief, illuminated by early sunlight; almost like in a high altitude photograph. Towards midday we rounded False Cape and Cabo San Lucas. Gosh, what a shock. A mass of recreational fishing boats, each towing multiple lines astern. Presumably all in search of elusive big-fin fish. If this shows the extent of a typical day-fishing range from popular tourist venues perhaps few of the huge fish vaunted in publicity brochures exist any more. The Hemingway myth lives on unabated.
Also remarkable is the quantity of urban tourist development. Miles of shoreline appears similar to the Spanish Costas, or even rather similar to the Californian coast; holiday villas, resorts hotel complexes radiate from Cabo San Lucas, valuable south oriented waterfront property that does not relent until twenty-miles and beyond San Jose. Anchorages are few and exposed to Pacific swell from the south, even though protected from northern quadrant winds. A night comfortably anchored at Punta Palmilla and we moved on eastwards in search of some more natural scenery.
Another thirty miles, another anchorage in sand at Los Frailes (The Friars), named we assume from a Spanish mission of old. This was more to our liking, raw cliffs, rock and beach without an unending backdrop of buildings. This region clearly has more rainfall than we saw at Tortugas. Although arid, there is much more vegetation and a more pleasing vista ashore. Greens and other colours intersperse the bare features. This is still a potentially hostile coastline for a vessel, open to the south and east, only a narrow strip of sand sheltered from northerly winds and seas.
As seen in Australia and other parts of the world, land based snow birds on extended camping trips away from winter are encountered. Dan and Jackie from the northern inland regions of British Columbia have headed into the Baja for a few months each of the past four winters. It may be dusty but it beats shovelling snow and chipping ice at home.
Antics of Pelicans, Crested Kara-Kara and Turkey Buzzards proved interesting to observe. Offshore several pods of dolphins visited, likely Bottle-nose and Fraser's types. A hurried dive by a turtle as we passed counted our first one of those seen for a while. Many sizable Rays leaped skywards in somersault, maybe to dislodge parasites, perhaps disgruntled at our passage.
A first proper snorkel excursion, since on the opposite side of the Pacific Ocean, took us along a rocky shoreline. Similarly to cooler waters on the eastern Atlantic seaboard at these latitudes, coral is very sparse. Tropical fish are suddenly prevalent. Possibly they have grown more numerous gradually, but we have not been braving cold water to confirm. Fishy creatures of the Trunk, Parrot, Cronus, Damsels, Puffers, Tangs and many others made an appearance. Probably due to recent strong winds the levels of sediment severely restrict visibility. Without coral to underpin the food chain we wonder what they are eating. We noted many urchins and wondered if these may be over-represented thus affecting the ecosystem as a whole.
Our objective is to move on north towards La Paz as temporary lulls in otherwise strong northerly winds facilitate easier progress. Bashing to windward through the night is rough and tough but we have done enough of that for now, unless absolutely necessary. The latest boat maintenance list has recharging our refrigeration system top of the list. An evaporator plate freezing only three-quarters across its width, and the fridge compressor running 24/7 indicates a problem to be resolved urgently before we sail farther south.
Vessel Name: Spruce
Vessel Make/Model: Hallberg Rassy 42 - Enderlein Design
Hailing Port: Portsmouth, UK
Crew: Sue & Andy
About: Sue is an artist, plays the flute and guitar. Andy enjoys technical challenges and hoped to learn to speak more Spanish. Unsuccessfully:-( Maybe this year?
Extra: During 2013 and 2014 we sailed across the Pacific to New Zealand and then Australia. 2015-18 brought us from Asia to Washington State via the Noorth pacific Rim. In 2019 we aim to cruise BC and then head south to Mexico.
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Spruce's Photos - Tuamotus 2
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The crew of Flapjack
Andy tows the dive float.
The Grey shark takes an interest in Andy!
Flame Angel fish.
A marbled Grouper.
Four spot butterfly fish