Sunday, May 20, 2012

Getting ready in La Paz

On April 10, we arrived in our slip in Marina Palmira and began a busy month of travel, boat projects and preparations for our upcoming summer in the Sea of Cortez.

 A big thank you goes to Rob and Debbie for picking us up at that airport and for accumulating our “booty.”  In the months before our trip home we mail ordered all kinds of stuff and had the packages shipped to Rob and Debbie’s house in Oakland.  There were twelve packages waiting for us.  We had to buy another suitcase to get it all back to Mexico. 

While visiting Derrick's parents, Derrick was being watched
closely as he barbecued the tri-tip
Derrick returned to La Paz (and the boat) and Trisha continued on to Buffalo to visit family and friends.  Her visit was timed to be there for Sarah’s First Communion. 

Carol (sister), Trisha, Lysa (friend since 12 yrs old) and Catherine (niece)
During our time in La Paz a statue of Jacques Cousteau was dedicated on the malecon.  Cousteau spent a great deal of time exploring the Sea of Cortez and described it as the “aquarium of the world”.  We thought the statue was really, really great.  It made us smile and think of the explorer we watched on TV so many years ago.

And finally, no visit to La Paz is complete without a visit to La Fuente for a popsicle.

You spot it by the polka dotted tree in front
Coconut cream is my very favorite

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Caleta Partida

Coromuel winds were blowing from the south the morning we left Isla San Francisco on April 9th.  This was great news for Pura Vida as they were going to get a nice push on their way north, at least for a few miles.  Seychelles and Interabang were headed south to La Paz, pretty much into the wind.  During the long motor-sail Trisha studied our cruising guides looking for an anchorage on one of the islands with protection from coromuels.  She didn’t have much luck.  All she found was a brief comment about Caleta Partida, an anchorage in the gap between Isla Partida and Isla Espitiru Santo.  The book said that some boats anchor on the south side of Caleta Partida to get protection from southerlies.  We set a course for Caleta Partida and got on the radio to share our plan with Seychelles.

The two mile trip down the narrow passage between the islands offers some spectacular scenery.  When we got to the anchorage, we headed for a spot near the steep hill on the south side.  The sun was high in the sky so we got a good view of the bottom twenty feet below.  Trisha was on the bow and directed me to a large sandy patch where she dropped the anchor.  Seychelles arrived an hour or so later and anchored nearby.

After having dinner on Interabang, we took the dinghy to Seychelles for desert.  The wind was calm when we arrived and we speculated about the likelihood of a coromuel blowing tonight.  We had a great time with John and Nicki and the desert was fabulous.  When we went to leave we noticed that the wind had picked up significantly and was coming from the south.  All speculation was over, the coromuel had arrived.

When we got back to Interabang, the wind was blowing twelve knots.  We stowed the dinghy and got all of the unnecessary items off deck.  Trisha turned on the anchor alarm.  So much for protection on the south side, the winds increased to 25-30 knots and we spent the next few hours keeping a watch.  It was a long night.

The high winds continued into the morning hours.  We had had enough of the coromuels.  La Paz was just a little more than twenty miles upwind.  We had called the marina the day before to confirm that there would be no problem if we showed up a day early.  We picked up at anchor and headed for the Marina Palmira in La Paz.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Three boats for Isla San Francisco (picture time)

Returning to Isla San Francisco with friends was great fun.  Trisha and I were like little children sharing their playground.  The six of us hiked the ridge trails, searched for shells and agates, and revisited the Osprey nest.  While hiking on the salt flat, we returned to the salt beds we had discovered on our first trip.  This time we were prepared, and went to work harvesting sea salt.    
Hiking the ridge trail

Harvesting sea salt
On the second day, we took the three dinghies around the point to explore a couple of the nearby beaches that were not accessible by land due to the steep cliffs.  As we rounded the point we were focused on the water, keeping a sharp eye out to avoid the many rocks that came near the surface.  Dinghies and propellers don’t like rocks.  On one of the beaches there was an uninhabited fishing camp.  It seemed the fishermen were out fishing.  There were caves on both ends of the beach, all showed signs of having provided shelter for the fishermen with discarded food containers and signs of campfires.  On a wall near one of the caves there was a shrine of sorts with a cross painted on the rock.  

Dangerous manuever
This guy is having too much fun
Trisha had read about a cruising couple that had taken on a hermit crab as a pet.  Somewhere along the way, she made it known to the group that she was interested to doing the same.  As luck would have it, Michael of Pura Vida found a hermit crab on the beach near the fishing camp and gave it to Trisha.  Trisha and the crab made fast friends.  As we all pondered what sorts of things we might feed the crab, it suddenly pinched Trisha’s finger.  Her romanticizing about keeping the pet was just as suddenly over.  The crab splashed in the water.
My new friend!
He pinched me!
One of the highlights of our stay was the dinghy raft up.  We went through the anchorage boat-by-boat inviting one and all to join.  At five o’clock, Michael and Judy of Pura Vida dropped an anchor from their dinghy and about seven other dinghies tied on.  Everyone brought their own drink and appetizers to share.  Each participant took their turn introducing themselves while the food was passed around.  A good time was had by all.    
On April 9, we said a sad farewell to Pura Vida as they resumed their voyage northward and then home to Portland for the summer.  We then joined Seychelles on a two day trip south to La Paz.
Farewell party for Pura Vida
Sailing away with Seychelles

Thursday, May 10, 2012

San Evaristo

It was April 4th and our second night at Isla San Francisco when we had our first coromuel experience.  The La Paz area periodically experiences strong southerly winds called coromuels.  Forty five miles away from La Paz, Isla San Francisco is out of reach of the strong winds, but it gets the full force of the wind waves they generate.  Our great little anchorage was wide open to the south and became quite uncomfortable when the waves began rolling in.

The timing was pretty good.  We had been planning to make our way to San Evaristo because we were low on provisions and the anchorage offers good protection from coromuel winds.  The cruising guide tells of a small fishing village with a store.  We hoped that the store was still in business.  This concern was eased when we were invited to happy hour on Bella Brisa, another boat from Alameda.  They had been in San Evaristo a day earlier and reported that the store was well stocked for the Easter weekend.  We left our now rolling anchorage early the next morning and had a great downwind sail to San Evaristo.
Hiking in San Evaristo
Once tucked in to our new anchorage we went ashore to find the store.  For being so far off the beaten path, the store was amazingly well stocked.  We even bought raw chicken out of a homemade ice chest on the front porch.  When we asked about beer, we were directed to the red house on the beach.  We found the house and were taken into the living room where there were five cases of Tecate Light.  How many?  We bought eight beers for 100 pesos.
Derrick above the salt beds
During our second day at San Evaristo we were happy to have Pura Vida and Seychelles catch up with us.  After leaving Bonanza, both boats had gone into La Paz for provisions.  We celebrated our reunion by having Happy Hour on Interabang.  Pura Vida was starting a long trip north, but we convinced them to back track the nine miles to Isla San Francisco.  The three boats headed back to the crescent shaped beach and we were excited to share our favorite island with our friends.  
Judy and Mike of Pura Vida at Happy Hour
Nicki and John of Seychelles with Derrick

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Isla San Francisco

Interabang had not seen a marina in more than two months and everything on the boat was crusty with salt. The yellow jerry cans on deck were all empty. Their fuel poured into the main tank after the crossing from Mazatlan. Our last provisioning was a week ago and Trisha had to get a little more creative with each meal. The beer supply was nearly depleted. But none of this seemed to matter very much. We were focused on how to celebrate Trisha’s birthday.

The city of San Francisco had been the location of her previous two birthday celebrations, so it seemed fitting that Isla San Francisco be the choice for this year’s fun. Yesterday’s trip to the west side of Isla Partida had been a chore, but we were now just twenty miles from our party destination. We got an early start, beating into a light breeze, and soon found ourselves anchored off the crescent shaped beach on Isla San Francisco.

What a way to spend my birthday!
The anchorage was spectacular. We could see why its picture was used for the cover of our cruising guide. We took the dinghy ashore and found the beach to be thick with pieces of shell and coral.
After a hike across a large salt flat, we came to the beach on the windward side of the island. As promised, we were able to find a few agates among the pebbles on the beach. Walking farther along the beach we could hear a faint squawking sound. We noticed a huge nest on an outcropping in the cliffs about twenty feet up. The source of the noise was a little fuzzy head peeking out of the nest. Several big birds were circling above, obviously unhappy with our intrusion. Michael on Pura Vida later identified them as Osprey.
Hiking across the salt flat
Baby Osprey in his nest
It was getting late in the afternoon so we made our way back to the boat to play a little scrabble in the cockpit. Trisha opened her special bottle of champagne. It was a gift from Sally and David when they visited us in Monterey. David is quite the wine aficionado and Trisha raved about the champagne. The special bottle was for Trisha. I had tequila.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Island Time

With the crossing completed, all of our schedule worries were behind us.  We were a day’s sail from La Paz and our marina reservation was two weeks away.  It was finally island time.  We had intended to visit the islands near La Paz on our first visit back in November but had to cut our stay short when a steady stream of northers started blowing through the area.  Now was our chance to see what we missed. 
Enjoying some "Island Time"
Early Sunday morning, March 31, Interabang, Pura Vida and Seychelles left Los Muertos and caught the flood current north to Playa Bonanza on the eastern side of Isla Espiritu Santo.  That night we all enjoyed dinner aboard Seychelles.

It was a bit windy the following morning, but Trisha and I decided to round the northern end of Isla Partida and head for an anchorage on the west side.  When we were a couple of miles out, we got on the radio and provided the other boats with a weather report.  The wind was twelve knots from the north with three to five foot seas.  Based on our report, the others decided to spend another night at anchor in Bonanza.  We continued north.  The next three hours of motor-sailing were progressively more and more grueling.  The wind continued to build and, at times, the waves were an easily eight feet.  We made it safely, but it was in no way fun.  The only good part of the day was when could finally make the hard left turn and start racing down the west side of the island to shelter.
At anchor - Ensenada Grande, Isla Partida
With the wind behind us, it was a fast three miles to the Ensenada Grande anchorage.  This large anchorage has three separate lobes where boats can anchor.  We dropped the hook beside the wall in the northern lobe.  It was time to have a well-deserved drink and promise ourselves that we will spend more time sailing down wind.  The good news was that the north wind blew hard all night and we were well protected.