Monday, October 21, 2013

Isla San Marcos

July 2013

Even after extending our stay in Bahia Conception after the Fourth of July Party, our northbound progress was still well ahead of schedule.  Other boats attending the Fourth of July party had quickly made their way up to the marina in Santa Rosalia and were taking their time moving on.  We needed somewhere to hang out for a week or so while we waited for space to free up.  Isla San Marcos was pretty much the only choice.

Isla San Marcos - not too shabby as the only choice
We had plenty of company.  Several boats were already anchored in Sweet Pea Cove, the popular anchorage on the northwest corner of Isla San Marcos nearest to the marina.  Rather than squeeze in there, we opted for an anchorage about a mile down the west side of the island that was noted in one of older cruising guides.  When we arrived we found big patch of sand in twenty-seven feet of water at the mouth of an arroyo (canyon) and dropped the hook.  This would be home for the next ten days.

Pangeros water skiing past our boat in the anchorage - this was a first!
Isla San Marcos soon became one of our favorite destinations.  One big attraction was the arroyos.  On the islands we visit in the Sea of Cortez the typical terrain is very rough, often crumbling, and covered with aggressive vegetation sporting sharp spines.  While most overland exploring can be challenging and frequently painful (a cactus spine can go right through the sole of your shoe), arroyos are the exception.  In these canyons, the occasional rain storm produces a torrent of water that washes away the vegetation and leaves a nice gravel path to walk on.  In addition to the easy passage, every turn offers something new to see.

Derrick "rock balancing" during an arroyo hike
One of the finished products
On the southern end of the island there is a gypsum mine and village.  Ships dock near the mine where they are loaded with gypsum.  This activity generates a giant plume of white dust that blows out over the water.  Fortunately, we are far enough away that we get no dust, but we can smell the gypsum when the wind shifts to the south.

Trisha posing on a hill of gypsum rock
A couple of fishing boats from the village drive by regularly.  One day one of the boats stops me as I am returning from a spear fishing outing.  The two fishermen speak no English, but they are obviously quite proud of this red fish they have caught.  I have never seen this sort of red fish before, but they assure me that it is “muy bueno” and would fetch 100 pesos per kilo in town.  I try to turn it down, but they really want me to have this red fish for 50 pesos (they estimate that the fish weighs half a kilo).  So I buy the fish.  When I get back to the boat, Trisha looks it up in our fish book.  Turns out they sold me a pacific snapper, edibility excellent.  And it was.

A delectable fish!
There were thousands of cicadas in the arroyo
Interesting rock formations

We left our mark!

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Summer 2013 In the Northern Sea (Picture Time)

A few pictures of our travels this summer in the Northern Sea.

Interabang at anchor in Puerto Don Juan
Waiting out Tropical Storm Ivo in La Mona (Entre Nous in the foreground)
On the hiking trail from Puerto Don Juan to Ensenada el Quemado
The view of Bahia de los Angeles from above La Gringa
The volcano on Isla Coronado from La Gringa
Ensenada el Pescador
Ensenada el Pescador
Dolphin escort into the anchorage at Isla Estanque
Derrick nursing a baby bird that landed in our cockpit during a rain storm
Isla Estanque on a calm morning
We had six whale sharks swimming around our boat in Bahia de las Animas in October.  
This picture was taken without a zoom lens.
Bonita caught while underway soon to become sashimi dinner

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Rain, rain go away (Trisha's Blog)

We are here in the Northern Sea - currently anchored at Bahia Las Rocas on Isla Coronado in the Bahia de los Angeles area and we have the anchorage all to ourselves. We were in the area to attend the Full Moon party held last Wednesday, August 21st. The party was a big hit and about fifteen boats were in attendance for the floating afternoon party and evening beach potluck.

Most of you think that we are in the dry, hot desert, right? In the past week, we have had two tropical systems dump rain on us. Last week right after the party, Tropical Storm Ivo traveled up the outside of the Baja and although we did not get "hit" by the storm, we had the remnant clouds and some wind and enjoyed a rain shower that somewhat cleaned the boat. There was just one downpour and after the rain, there was dirt puddled in many places where it ran off but just not enough. We would have liked a bit more rain to clean off the boat. Be careful what you wish for: Today, we are experiencing rain all day from the remnants of Tropical Depression Juliette. It has been a steady stream with downpours every hour or so. This is more rain than we've seen in one day since we left the San Francisco Bay on September 2, 2011. The rain is wonderful, don't get me wrong BUT the solar panels don't produce electricity, the hatches and windows need to be closed and everything on the boat feels damp (and is damp). Our cabin temperature is currently 78 degrees which is cool and comfortable compared to the average 90-94 degrees we would experience on a sunny, calm day.

Yesterday, we went on a wonderful hike and Derrick went spear fishing and came back with three fish and an octopus! This is our first octopus aboard Interabang and we had been coached last year by another cruiser on how to prepare it, if and, when we got one. We will be having octopus (pulpo) for dinner.

We are hoping the tropical storms slow down enough soon so that we can venture north from Bahia de los Angeles and the potential protection of Puerto Don Juan. Puerto Don Juan is a "hurricane hole" and is called that because it would provide protection almost 360 degrees from the waves if a larger storm system, tropical storm or even a hurricane were to reach us way up here. But it's time to move on already.

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Friday, July 26, 2013


Traveling north in the Sea of Cortez, we decided to hustle up to Bahia Conception and attend Geary’s Fourth of July party.  Geary is the local weatherman and quite the celebrity amongst the cruising fleet.  Each and every morning he rises early to put together a comprehensive weather forecast for the west coast of Mexico and then broadcasts it at 7:45 A.M. on the Sonrisa Ham Net.  Each and every morning we tune in to his broadcast on our single side band radio while we drink our coffee.
Trisha, Lisa (Gypsy), Unidentified, Kevan (Entre Nous), Sally (Entre Nous),
Neil (Gypsy) and Crit (Jasdip) enjoying the party
Despite Bahia Conception’s notoriously high temperatures in early July, Geary’s annual party in El Burro Cove continues to be a popular event.  This year about thirty boats showed up.  Geary supplies the hotdogs, the shade and arranges for a beer tent (Pacifico this year rather than Tecate, yeah!).  Attending cruisers contribute a potluck dish.  Dan on Dazzler also contributed a cache of fireworks/flares, and the event wrapped up with a dazzling fireworks display.  A good time was had by all.  The next morning boats began to disappear, anxious to escape the heat.

El Burro Cove from above - Site of the party and Geary's palapa.
Interabang is anchored on the left.
This is how we got the picture of El Burro Cove from above.
On July fifth it continued to be hot in Bahia Conception.  The inside of the boat was only getting down to 90 degrees at night.  With the water temperature also hovering in the 90 degree range, going for a swim made one more salty than cool.  Nevertheless, we were ahead of schedule and decided to hang around for a few days before continuing north.  We moved the boat north ten miles to Bahia Santa Domingo near the mouth of the bay where the sea breeze is stronger and more constant.  We were soon confronted by very aggressive bees and both of us came away with stings.  After a couple days of fighting the bees, the heat didn’t seem so bad.  We ventured twelve miles south back into Bahia Conception and anchored at Playa Santa Barbra.  There, we were pretty much captives on the boat.  It seems that someone has bought the land around the anchorage, built a lovely palapa, erected some first class tents, installed an array of private property signs, and secured the area with a couple of Rottweilers and a caretaker.

By now we were getting a little low on provisions and were considering how we might get a ride into Mulegé (moo-la-hay).  Mulegé is the big city in these parts and about a fifteen mile drive north on Highway 1.  After listening to the morning radio networks, we gave Weatherman Geary a call on the VHF to see if he might be making the trip into town any time soon.  Lucky for us Geary was driving that way the next morning and we were welcomed to come along.  We moved the boat to El Burro Cove and anchored in front of Geary’s palapa.  At nine o’clock the next morning we met Geary and his friend Sonya on the beach and climbed into his pick-up truck.  Geary and the women rode in the cab and I rode in the back.  Sitting in the open truck bed with my back against the tailgate, the wind and little bits of sand blasted my face as Geary pushed the truck to 70 MPH on the straight stretches of road.  Understandably, I missed out on the stream of historical tidbits that Geary provided during the drive.  On the upside, the ride in the bed of the truck was like a trip back in time.  The long forgotten sensations took me back to when I was a kid in rural California riding in the back of my father’s truck.  It was a very enjoyable ride.
Trisha and Geary in Mulegé
We soon arrived in historic Mulegé.  This quaint little city got its start with the establishment of Mission Santa Rosalia de Mulegé in 1705 on the banks of Rio Santa Rosalia.  The combination of the river and many nearby springs make this a lush oasis in the middle of the desert.  Water is plentiful and the date palms flourish.  A prison once operated at Mulegé.  With the surrounding desert making escape unlikely, most prisoners were allowed to work in town during the day and return to the prison at night.

View of the river running through Mulegé from the back of a pickup truck
It was a real treat to get to see Mulegé and replenish our supply of groceries and beer.  Trisha and I were grateful for the ride and the tour.  Thanks Geary and Sonya!

Monday, July 8, 2013

Update from the Central Sea of Cortez (Trisha's Blog)

Derrick and I are currently anchored at Playa Santa Barbara in Bahia Conception. Bahia Conception is a huge bay just south of the city of Mulege and is known for being very hot this time of year. We came here to attend Gary the weatherman's annual Fourth of July party. Each morning Gary provides us with a weather forecast on the radio. He is very much loved by the cruising fleet. There were about thirty boats anchored around Gary's home in El Burro Cove. We had a great time meeting people, drinking Pacifico Beer, and eating Gary's hotdogs. The day concluded with an impressive fireworks show thanks to Dan on Dazzler who provided most of the fireworks. Pitt from Karmaseas finished with his " fire twirling, fire eating, fire breathing" show, which is great entertainment - thanks Pitt!

We came to this area a little sooner than we had planned so now must hang around before continuing north. This place is quite hot but the scenery, the fishing, and the clamming are great. Derrick has bagged seventeen fish with the spear gun in our first month out and nearly came home with an octopus yesterday (ink was flying). We've received instructions from Mel on Sonrisa, a Tasmanian chef, on how to prepare octopus so we are hoping another opportunity arises.

You may have seen Hurricane/Tropical Storm Eric in the news. As we are well up the Baja Pennisula, Eric is hundreds of miles to the south. Our location is seeing clouds and some high winds spinning off from Eric, but we are tucked away safe and sound in a very well protected anchorage. We are thankful to Eric for the breeze and hoping for some rain.

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Thursday, June 27, 2013

Our travels from La Paz to Puerto Escondido (Picture Time)

Since we have an internet connection for a short time, I am posting pictures from our travels from since leaving La Paz on June 2nd.

Ridge hike on Isla San Francisco
Beach Cemetery at San Evaristo
Agua Verde oasis
Pelican gathering in Agua Verde
Yes, this bug was already dead when Derrick found it

Sundown party with Jaye on Winsome and Alice and Kim on Philiosophy
 A Sunday visit to the sail boats in Agua Verde is a tradition
So happy to be in Honeymoon Cove on Isla Danzante
Interabang at anchor in Honeymoon Cove
A fabulous hike we discovered by accident on the backside of Isla Danzante
Yellowstone Beach on Isla Monserrate - a new favorite anchorage

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Anchors Aweigh

After several months in La Paz making repairs and upgrades to the boat, we were ready for the 350 mile trip to Bahia de los Angeles for hurricane season.  A few minor items lingered on the project list, but all of the big stuff was completed.  It seemed that our scrambling for boat parts was finally over.  When one morning, out of the blue, Trisha asks “should we get a new anchor?”  It was a very good question.  Anchor technology has come a long way since our trusty Bruce Anchor was designed back in the 1970s.  The Bruce has generally done a good job for us but it has trouble setting in hard bottoms and needs a large amount of scope (length of chain attaching the boat to the anchor) in high winds.  Most importantly, performances studies have shown that the new anchor designs on the market provide far more holding power than the Bruce.  For those nights when high winds scream across the boat, an anchor upgrade would bring a higher margin of safety and peace of mind.  After some internet research and discussions with fellow cruisers, we decided to buy a Rocna Anchor.

Results of comparison testing of different anchors:
The Bruce is the second on the left and the Rocna is on the far right
The first step was selecting the size.  Our Bruce anchor weighs 20 kilograms (44 pounds) and is a bit undersized for our boat.  After studying the sizing chart on the Rocna website, we decided to go with a 33 kilogram Rocna (72 pounds).  This is a big jump in size and weight but the next time we see 60 knots of wind were going to feel real good about the decision.  Next came the purchase, with the help of Rick on Hotel California and Michael on Milagro we got a great price on the Rocna and sold one of our old anchors.  Just one problem, the new anchor was at West Marine in San Diego.  Fortunately, we found a cruiser who was making a round trip drive to San Diego.  For a nominal fee, he picked up our anchor and delivered it to us at the marina in La Paz.  Finally, several modifications had to be made on Interabang’s bow to accommodate the larger anchor.

BEFORE:  Our bow with the Bruce anchor
AFTER:  Our bow with the Rocna anchor
We love our new anchor.  After fifteen drops, we find that it sets the first try every time.  Also, once set, there is no creep in our GPS numbers after a windy night or significant changes in wind direction.  The Rocna is fabulous.

This is how happy Trisha is about the new anchor

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Where is Interabang? (Trisha's blog)

It's been quite awhile since we've blogged. We spent the winter and spring in beautiful La Paz and enjoyed an extended stay in one place (sort of) and becoming part of the boating community there. Most our nights were spent at anchor in the Bay off of the town. It can become very expensive to live in a Marina in Mexico and we are trying to make our kitty last.

We renewed our temporary resident cards and that made it necessary to stay in La Paz during that two month process. In late March, we said "Hasta Luego" to our good friends Kyra and Rick of Nyon who sailed off to the South Pacific. In April was Bayfest - a festival of games, seminars, food and drink that took place in La Paz. Derrick and Scotty of Ula Lena took the championship in beach bocce ball. I also went to Buffalo in April to visit family and friends and had a wonderful time while Derrick stayed on the boat, working to get it ready for another summer in the Sea of Cortez.

We left the La Paz area on June 2nd and have been slowly making our way north up the Baja coast. We've been to Isla San Francisco, San Evaristo, Agua Verde, Bahia Candeleros, Isla Danzante, Isla Monserrate. I will post pictures when we have an internet connection.

We are now in a lovely anchorage called Caleta Candeleros Chico (Little Candlestick Cove) that is only large enough for one boat. The breeze is keeping us cooler than we've been in days, there are no bees (that's a whole different story), Derrick is out with his speargun getting us dinner and I am writing this blog. Life is good.

A very good friend, whom we met at the start of our time in Mexico, wrote me an email yesterday asking where we were and what we were doing. She said she checked our blog and it told her nothing. So this blog is for you, Rosanna (and Rick) of Tension Reliever. We are in the Baja and beginning our second summer in the Sea. We miss you and all of our family and friends and I think of you all often.

Oh, and I'm going to miss my High School Reunion that takes place in about a week. I've made it to all but one of the Reunions that take place every 5 years and I'm sad to be missing this one. So if anyone is reading this before the Reunion (Dan?), please send my regards and know that I really wish I could be there.

I'll try to stay in touch.

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Monday, February 18, 2013

Carnaval La Paz 2012 (Picture Time)

Derrick and Kevan were busy meeting new friends
The kids were having fun

These guys didn't want to be Kevan's friend...
The parade begins!

Derrick made me add this picture