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Thursday, December 15, 2005


15 December 2005

We enjoyed our time in Bahia Chamela, and this time spent most nights anchored off of the village of Punta Perula (aka La Fortuna). One windy day put us on a lee shore so we moved out to the islands for a night, and visited our second favorite deserted beach. The water temp is in the high 70's so we're swimming every day again, which is practically a necessity given the much higher humidity. Unfortunately the two things I most wanted to do in Punta Perula didn't work out this visit. The panaderia (normally open only on the weekends) was closed because the baker was in Guadalajara, and our favorite taco place (again open only on Saturday and Sunday nights) didn't open until 8 PM which was just too late for us to bother with by ourselves. The only reason we even discovered it last year is because we got to drinking margaritas on Maggie Drum and went in to town so late that it was about the only thing still open!

The best thing about our visit occurred by pure chance on Sunday night. First we decided not to go in to town for tacos. Then we turned down a dinner invitation from Secret O' Life (that's how tired we were from the long hike we took with them in the afternoon). Long after sunset we were hailed by them on the VHF to turn on our Christmas lights, which we'd forgotten to do, so there was some chit-chat on the radio with them about how everyone's lights looked. If it hadn't been for all of the above we never would have received a hail from Finisterre letting us know that they had arrived in the anchorage after dark (so they didn't know we were there until they heard us on the radio) and were leaving before dawn the next morning! Their dinghy was stowed on deck so we rowed over for a visit and got to see the "new" Finisterre, glowing white in the moonlight. Yes, since they're headed for Central America Mike convinced Kay to give up their hot dark blue hull for the coolness of white. It looks great and they had only good things to say about the work done by Opequimar in Puerto Vallarta. It was a bittersweet visit since we know we won't be seeing them for some time, but I would have been so disappointed to have missed them. Talk about almost passing ships in the night!

From Chamela we sailed to Careyes on Tuesday and spotted five turtles along the way, two of which appeared to be very attached to each other, we hope on purpose. Careyes is a beautiful spot but the sound and sight of surf pounding on the surrounding rocks (which are lit by spotlights at night!) is unnerving to say the least. We anchored in front of the deserted Club Med where there is only a little sand covering the coral. Our stern anchor drug a bit during the night which put us sideways to the large swell. We ferried 50 gallons of water from the hose at the cement pad near the base of the center palm tree on Playa Rosa. This was accomplished by anchoring the dinghy outside the surf at high tide. I jumped in the surf and waded to shore to fetch the hose and wade it back out to John in the dinghy, where he filled our five garrafons. During our second trip we watched the photo shoot in the corner of the beach. Everyone was fully clothed so guess it wasn't a swimsuit shoot!

After clearing the anchorage we set sail at 11 AM from Careyes bound for Tenacatita. Had a lovely slow sail with our big jib until it got really light and John set the spinnaker. Saw whales, rays, bill fish, and dolphins, but no turtles (attached or otherwise). Unfortunately the breeze was too light by the time we rounded the corner into the bay and we had to motor the last 45 minutes to the anchorage. We are set bow and stern anchor close against the western shore (Dragonfly's spot last year) with seven other boats. We'll probably stay here until Overheated arrives from La Paz with our goodies, and then go into Barra de Navida a few days before Christmas.

Linda and John

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Skype survey

We recently downloaded Skype to our computer and opened an account with them. We were hoping to be able to use it to call friends and family whenever we have internet access, rather than using the expensive Ladatel phone cards here (.50/minute to the U.S.). We didn't have too much luck using the wireless internet at Marina Palmira in La Paz, calling from our computer to a landline. Voice transmission was in and out and often the person we called couldn't hear us at all. We know it depends mostly on the amount of bandwidth available, but we're hoping that a computer to computer transmission will work better than calling land (or cell) lines.

So all you friends and family out there - let us know what your experience has been using Skype, and email us your account name so we can try calling you from Barra de Navidad (our next opportunity for internet)!


Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Passage Observations

6 December 2005
Pacific Ocean South of Cabo Corrientes

This is the fourth day of our non-stop passage from Muertos on the Baja peninsula to Punta Perula (Chamela) on the mainland coast of Mexico (south of Puerto Vallarta). We're both a little sleep deprived but still in good spirits. This has been an easier passage than others even with all the sailing we're doing. It's been a bit rolly in the downwind parts (most of it) but it's basically been one tack without too many sail changes, and no winds over 15-18 knots. Although there have been several times (like now) when last year we would have motored through the slow bits, we have finally learned to slow down and take the wind we're given. I think our summer in the Sea of Cortez really helped us over that hump. As long as we have no reason to hurry, what's the rush? A slow spinnaker sail is much more pleasant than listening to the engine for hours.

Late last night we re-entered the area with what I have dubbed "paparazzi fish." This is a phenomenon in the ocean which looks like basketball sized flash bulbs going off underwater. It can last for several minutes and we assume it must be fish disturbing the phosphorescence in the water. During my second night watch last night there were dozens of these surrounding the boat, and then they were joined by the bigger cannonball flashes and glittering white torpedo streaks of dolphins playing with the boat. What was interesting about this (other than the fact that it was incredibly beautiful) was that as the dolphins eventually disappeared so did the smaller flash bulbs. Leaves you wondering where the party went.

As reported earlier by John, he found a flying fish on deck this morning. Later I looked up just in time to admire one flying along above the water's surface when all of a sudden it took a wrong turn and landed clear up on the cabin top. We had already eaten lunch so I threw it back over the side. They are really beautiful little fish, about 4-6 inches and a deep sea blue color.

7 December
At anchor off of Punta Perula

About an hour after writing the above yesterday the wind died and we had to turn on the engine. So we mostly motored after sunset and finally slowly picked our way into the anchorage. If anything bad had happened people probably would have said it was our own fault - heavy overcast blocked all starlight, we were tired, and it was the dead of night. But in our favor we had two navigation tracks on the computer from our previous visits, GPS, radar, depth sounder, calm wind and seas, and slow ahead speed with me up on the bow periodically shining a spot light out ahead. Had the weather deteriorated we would have stood off until sunrise, but as it was we dropped the hook at 0230 this morning and crawled into bed soon after.

The jet lag feeling and another heavy overcast day didn't prevent us from stowing sails, cleaning up the boat, reassembling the dinghy, and jumping in for a swim to another boat to introduce ourselves - all before lunchtime! It's good to be back on the mainland for a change, but it feels very strange to me after being in Baja for so long. Smells different, looks different, is more humid, and even the water feels different (I think it's less salty here). Will be fun to explore it again now that we are "sophomores."

Linda and John


Well we arrived early this morning at about 0300 after a slightly tense entry into the bay. There is 100% cloud cover, no moon and Chamela Bay has no lights to help with the entrance. If we hadn't had our previous tracks to follow (the computer stores every place Nakia goes) we would not have attempted the entry. We just took it slow and let the autopilot steer the boat along our previous route and had no problems what so ever.

We have nothing planned for today, that is we intend to do exactly nothing, except eat a hot meal and take a hot shower.

It's still cloudy with a little rain now and again so it's a good day for being quiet anyway.

John and Linda

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Almost there

We have about 70 miles left to go and should arrive some time before midnight. We're not too worried about entering Chamela at night, it's our policy not to enter a strange harbor at night or in adverse weather, because we've been in Chamela twice and have very good GPS tracks for both times.

The wind died early this morning and after and hour of 'playing' with the sails (shaking out a reef, polling out the Jib, reefing again, pulling in the pole) I gave up and started the motor. We only had to run for 2 hours under power before the wind filled in again and we set sail.

Linda saved a flying fish from our decks yesterday, Nakia probably frightened him and in his hast to evade us he ran head long into the cabin side. She was right there to put him back into the sea before he ran out of air. Unfortunately she wasn't around early this morning when a small squid landed on deck. I found him this morning nearly dried on the side deck (too old to cook for breakfast :-)

We'll make one more update to YOTREPS from Chamela and then that will be our last report to them, hope that's made following our progress easier for everyone.

John and Linda

Monday, December 05, 2005

Better wind, rougher sea

The fun ended yesterday just before sunset. The wind had finally built to 15-18 out of the NE and we were really moving along when the seas began to build too. By midnight we were rolling badly and had to double reef the main to keep it from blanketing the jib. If there's any silver lining in this cloud it's that we were really moving the whole night doing 5-6 knots for over 12 hours straight. If we can keep 5 knots up we should be in Chamela Tuesday afternoon. That would suit me fine as I have trouble sleeping when the sea is this rough, and am a little sleep deprived already.

PB&J for dinner last night, yep it was rough. This morning Neptune delivered a flying fish on deck for breakfast. Looked like it had been there for awhile so we passed.

John and Linda

Sunday, December 04, 2005

Progress, slow but progress

We sailed 19 out of 24 hours yesterday. Unfortunately most of it was to weather. Once the wind came up after leaving Muertos it was from the SE, exactly the direction we wanted to go. So we spent all day and a long way into the night sailing close hauled. It wasn't that bad, except for right at sunset when the wind built to 15 kts. This doesn't sound like much but we have the big jib on and that really is the top of its wind range.

After sunset the wind shifted a little into the south so we were able to make better progress towards our destination. At 0200 the wind finally gave up (after we had four hours of average 2.3 knots) and we started the motor.

The best thing is the seas have been flat and sailing so close to the wind the boat hardly rolls, so sleeping is very comfortable.

Today the wind is light (maybe 5-8 knots) and out of the NE so we are close reaching directly toward our destination. Will hopefully be there on Wednesday.

Chicken Teriyaki for lunch today with lots of broccoli, yes it's that calm.

John and Linda

Saturday, December 03, 2005

Slow Start

Well we got under way for Chamela this morning at 0900 local and the wind promptley built from the SE. Just the direction we want to go. So we're sailing slowly (3-4 knots) hard on the wind trying to make some progress without having to run the motor.

The wind is supposed to fill in from the north soon.

Friday, December 02, 2005

Arrived at Muertos

We arrived at Muertos after a long day of motoring, only sailed 3 hours out of 12. It will be good to get under way after a good nights sleep though, the weather forecast continues to be favorable for our trip south.

Caught a small Dorado outside of La Paz, but couldn't get it in the boat, it shook off the hook. Also two small Sierra, but we're not interested in them any more.

Just keeping you all updated...

John and Linda

Tracking NAKIA on the web

While we're at sea we'll be posting regular position reports to YOTREPS

To see where we are go to http://www.pangolin.co.nz/yotreps/tracker.php?ident=WBD3734

John and Linda

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Pictures, finally.

Hi Everyone,
We're getting ready to leave La Paz tomorrow morning and make our 3 day crossing to Chamela. Since we have such good internet access here in Marina Palmira we've decided to share some of our most recent pictures with you. They are posted most recent first - hope that's not too confusing, but that's how the blog is. (Muchas gracias to SolMate, Milagro, Slip Away, and Ceilidh for use of several of the photos posted here! )

We should arrive in Chamela (south of Puerto Vallarta) on Tuesday or Wednesday, and we'll be sure to keep the blog up to date during our passage.

John and Linda

View from the top of the hill over Marina Palmira. La Paz is out to the left, and the land in the background on the right is 'El Magote,' a peninsula that makes up the northern shore of Bahia de La Paz.

Sailing in the Sea of Cortez is not all light winds and fair weather as the skipper of See Ya, a Newport 30, found out on a dark and windy night just last week. He was entering the La Paz channel at 2 am when he strayed into shallow water and ran aground. High wind and powerful waves soon broke the keel and rudder and drove the boat onto the shore. The next morning several local cruisers worked to salvage anything valuable. The boat, uninsured, is a total loss.

The Sea Ya having her mast removed.

Here's the view from the top of Isla San Francisco. This is looking North. The Baja is on the left. In the foreground is tiny Goat Island where a dozen or so families make their homes. In the background on the right is Isla San Jose.

After sailing from Bahia Salinas we anchored off a special place called Moon Cove. The attraction there is an incredible arroyo made of white sandstone, shell fossils and volcanic rock. We spent a beautiful afternoon hiking in the arroyo and taking picktures. Here's a closeup of a scallop shell embedded in the sandstone.

John stopping for a drink of water near a cactus. The walls in this part of the trail are pure white sand.

Here's Linda showing off her rock climbing skills in one of the water fall coves.

Linda on the rocks again.

Linda and MJ taking a break on the 'Park Bench'.

More rock formation at Moon Cove.

Here are John and Stan showing that they can climb rocks too.

More rock formations at Moon Cove.

Here's John trying to figure out how to get over the hump.

More Sea of Cortez sailing. This time from Bahia Salinas to Moon Cove. This time we're using our big jib instead of the drifter. Linda's at her usual spot on the bow.

We took a walk around the abandoned town of Bahia Salinas on Isla Carmen. This was a salt production plant where they evaporated sea water on the low land and skimmed off the salt. It closed some time ago when another plant on the Baja opened up. All the buildings still exist and it's a fun little ghost town to explore.

The heavy equipment was left pretty much where it stood. Over time the caretaker started planting cactus in the forklifts.

Here's Linda steering one of the fork lifts. It's obvious why she didn't sit in the driver's seat.

We had a beach potluck party to celebrate the demise of hurricane Otis. Jan from Slip Away handed out Tootsie Pops - Linda and I got the 'blue tongue' kind.

Here we all are at the 'big restaurtant'. Burgers and beers for about $5 per person.

A trip into town for tacos. It's a short 5 mile drive on dirt roads from SoBLA to town, but we're all cozy in the back of the truck and Jay is a good, slow driver.

Another light breeze sail in Bahia de Los Angeles. Linda takes it easy in the shade of the drifter.

We took a long walk along the shore at Bahia Pescador. Here Linda shows off her balancing ability using her umbrella to steady herself. (Normally she uses the umbrella for shade.)

Here's one of the rock pillars we found along the shore.

We dressed this cactus up for a pic.

Here's a picture from one of the tougher hikes we did. This is above Puerto Don Juan. ALl of these rocks are 1-2 ft square and offer good footing. You have to be careful though because the gaps between the rocks are big and you can easily twist an ankle if you mis-step.

Here's another pic of the hills above Puerto Don Juan. This is Stan picking his way down.

We had a potluck beach party for Jo's birthday. Here's a picture of the men folk. Left to right: Darrel from Over Heated, Bob from Nuestra Isla, Lance from Milagro, Ed from Easy III, Stan from SolMate, Jay from Ceilidh, and John from Nakia.

Here's a picture of the women of the Sea of Cortez. Left to right: Jennifer from Nuestra Isla, Linda from Nakia, Rita from Over Heated, Jo from Milagro, Janice from Ceilidh, and MJ from SolMate.

I went out fishing one morning to catch 'whatever' and was surprised to hook this nice dorado. The strange part about catching this fish was 1) it was from the dinghy and 2) it was only about 50 ft off the shore!

Sailing in Bahia de Los Angeles was often light and mild. Here NAKIA sails out of the anchorage at sunrise with nothing other than the drifter for a sail. The wind was 1-3 knots and the water was absolutely flat.

We like to do a lot of hiking on the Baja. Here's a picture of our favorite hiking buddies on a hill overlooking Bahia de Los Angeles. Left to right, John, Stan, Linda, and MJ.

This is the view out of the little anchorage of Pata and Bota at sunrise. This spot is just big enough for one or two boats and is very sheltered from the North and South. We liked it a lot.

Here is a picture of NAKIA at sunrise in Pata and Bota.

Monday, November 28, 2005

La Paz

28 November 2005
Marina Palmira

As usual when we get into a marina we are kept busy by a list of boat chores and the social whirlwind of the cruising community. This has been an especially busy marina stay because it's our first since the beginning of September and will be our last possibly until the end of March. So we're taking advantage of unlimited fresh water and electrical power to clean up before heading over to the mainland.

John has finished stripping the caprail, bulwarks, and eyebrow. We talked about varnishing and painting it, but since we have a can of Cetol we'll probably go back to that on the caprail. We'll try leaving the bulwarks bare this time around. We've also cleaned out the chain locker, and will be breaking down and washing the dinghy. It's kind of a belated Spring cleaning time for us right now.

Which hasn't been helped by the north winds blasting through La Paz at the moment. If this isn't an official "screaming norther," I'd hate to see what one of those looks like. The channel outside the marina is white with breaking waves and the Port Captain officially closed the harbor this morning to boats less than 500 tons. A Newport 30 (See Ya, a Ha-Ha boat) tried to come in here last night and ended up on the beach without its keel and rudder. The cruisers rallied to help the owner strip it before the locals could, but since the boat itself is no longer worth the cost of the repairs required, it will most likely be scrapped.

There's supposed to be a break in the weather later this week and we are scheduled to check out of the marina on Friday. We are definitely getting out of here before the next norther comes through. With temps at night dipping into the mid to low 60's it's time for us to head south!

Linda and John

P.S. We were thrilled to see the beautiful Hans Christian 43, Panache (formerly Susie L.), in Marina de La Paz this morning. We've known this boat since joining the Hans Christian Owners Association 14 years ago, and it was nice to meet her new owner, Ken. We hope to catch up with them again on the mainland.

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Smooth Sailing

10 November 2005
Candeleros Chico to Agua Verde

We gave it our best shot and had the spinnaker up as soon as we were out of the anchorage at 0930. But by 1400, when we'd only averaged 1.6 knots of speed during each of the last two hours, we were getting discouraged. Even though the water was like a glassy lake we actually gave it another half an hour before turning on the engine and finishing up the run into the south anchorage of Agua Verde. Made a quick trip into the village with SolMate to see if the fresh shipment of vegetables had arrived yet but they were running late so we'd have to return the next day.

11 November 2005
Agua Verde

As soon as we spotted two power boats exiting the north anchorage this morning we made a beeline over there to re-anchor Nakia in anticipation of the predicted north breeze. After a dinghy ride to the beach we walked the dirt roads to the village and stocked up on essentials like avocados, home made flour tortillas, zucchini, bananas, peppers, onions, and country fresh cheese. Agua Verde is known for its goat cheese, but this may have been made from cow's milk. Charlie and Grania from Zester had visited the cheese maker himself and their understanding was that conditions weren't exactly right for making the goat cheese. John doesn't care for the rubbery texture, and it's pretty wet, but I like a little bit now and then.

The wind had already started to come up by the time we got back to the dinghy and it almost looked as though it might rain. John got in the water and managed to get some of the bottom clean before it was time to head over to Zester for dinner. We made it an early evening since both boats planned to head south at day break.

12 November 2005
Ague Verde to Isla San Francisco

Wow! This has to have been one of the best sailing days we've ever had. We motored 15 minutes to get out of the anchorage before sunrise, and then set the main and yankee jib to get offshore around a reef before turning south. We then had a wing and wing downwind sail the entire rest of the day! What a switch from the last time we made this trip and had to motor the whole way. It was a little rolly during the morning, with a few 8' seas behind us, but when we finally reached the San Jose channel at Nopolo it flattened out and we were under just "the twins" (twin head sails: jib and drifter out to either side) until we hit seven knots of speed and took the drifter down.
Total trip time: 11 hours (literally sunrise to sunset).
Total hours sailed: 10.5!
Total distance: 57 nautical miles.
As an extra bonus, after we dropped the hook Stan and MJ from SolMate came over in their dinghy to present us with the award for "most miles sailed that day" - rum drinks with ice! Now that's a perfect day.

13 November 2005
Isla San Francisco

We'll probably stay here until we leave for La Paz on Wednesday. Like Lynn on Homer's Odyssey said during our beach walk this morning, "They must have put a new coat of paint on the bottom of the swimming pool because it looks just as bright as it did when we were here in the Spring." This anchorage is truly a jewel in the southern Sea of Cortez. We'll drink a "Wish You Were Here" toast to all of you when we meet on SolMate for happy hour later this afternoon.

Linda and John

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Gin Clear Water

6 November 2005
Bahia Salinas, Isla Carmen

A very bad swell developed during our overnight at La Lancha. The hobby-horsing was so bad that John and I brought the dinghy up on deck at 2:30 in the morning just in case it got any worse and we had to leave in a hurry. Fortunately it didn't, but we were still underway by 7:00 AM, with SolMate following shortly after.

By 11:00 we were anchored in Bahia Salinas, which had been our original destination before we diverted to La Lancha the day before. At 4:00 PM we went in for a walk around the "ghost town." It would have been nice to have leisurely poked around the abandoned buildings which used to support a large salt evaporation pond operation, but we were attacked by biting bugs as soon as we landed our dinghies on the beach. After asking permission from the lone caretaker we made a hasty tour before John pleaded to return to the boat. Sure enough, the next day his legs were covered in bug bites, and he's been in itching agony ever since. For some reason the bugs don't seem to find me as tasty as John. We have 1% hydrocortisone ointment (advertised as maximum strength), but it doesn't give him much relief. If anyone has any suggestions (besides using bug repellent in the first place!) for treating his bites, we'd love to hear them. Is it true an antihistamine like Benedryl will help?

The next morning we went on a snorkeling expedition. There didn't seem to be much life in the big bay itself, but the water was "gin clear" and we couldn't pass up the excellent visibility. John wants to know where I got the expression "gin clear water," and I don't really know - I suppose it's something I picked up from my parents or grandparents. All I know is (and he agrees) this was the clearest water we'd seen the whole time we've been in Mexico. We picked a patch of rocks inside a point a couple of miles from the boats and lucked out with the best snorkeling of our entire year. Not a lot of big fish but a nice variety of everything else. It was just beautiful and made up for the awful trip to shore the previous day.

8 November 2005
Arroyo Blanco, Isla Carmen

On the advice of some friends we continued SE along the island and managed to cover nine and a half miles (that includes our four tacks) in four hours of sailing. It was slow but very relaxing as we listened to XM Cafe on our satellite radio (the XM station that most reminds me of KFOG back in San Francisco). This spot is not a protected anchorage, but in the calm conditions we set our hook and waited for SolMate to arrive so we could take the short hike up the arroyo. The rock formations were fascinating and we're very glad we made the stop.

9 November 2005
Candeleros Chico, Baja

This morning we snorkeled with the largest school (thousands) of bait fish I've ever seen. I'm sure the almost 60 pelicans I counted on the cliffs above were happy to see us leave. After lunch we sailed past the southern end of Isla Carmen and back over to the Baja. We were enjoying a nice leisurely spinnaker sail until we spotted another sailboat making a beeline for the same one-boat anchorage as us - only they were motoring! We immediately doused the spinnaker and started the engine, but the little trailer sailor beat us in. There was no place else to go before sunset so we picked out a corner and set a stern anchor to keep out of their way. We'll probably head to Agua Verde after another snorkel tomorrow so it doesn't really matter that much. Oh, and we saw two coyotes going about their business on the beach at sunset tonight!

Linda and John

Saturday, November 05, 2005

Moving Along

26-29 October 2005
Santa Rosalia

Had a really busy time in Santa Rosalia - well, I did, while John mostly tried to stay off his feet for his cut to finish healing. I made multiple trips to various mercados. I like Santa Rosalia except for two things. The dirt is worse there than anywhere else we've been so far. I always get back to the boat with gritty eyes and a layer of dust on my skin. It didn't help that they were tearing up the street right out in front of the marina. The other challenge is trying to find everything you might want to buy. There are several small mercados and it seems as though they all carry different items. So it pays to stop in each one and scan the aisles to see if they have what you need. We found #4 coffee filters for another boat just by wandering in a store we hadn't thought to try yet.

John did manage to hobble up to town for two evenings out with the gang - once for Chuyita's hot dogs and Thrifty ice cream, and once for pizza at El Muelle. He took a pass on the other major social event which turned out to be a good thing. We had heard about a Halloween show being given on the 29th. The cruiser who told us about it had only sketchy info from a poster she'd seen (all in Spanish, of course). She said something about dancing, 40 pesos a ticket, and a 9:00 PM start time at the Rotary Club. Naturally we all assumed it was a children's show being put on by women, since the poster said "damas." We all made sure we got our tickets in advance and, after leaving John to hobble back to the boat, I and three couples made our way up a steep hill to the Rotary Club. There weren't any cars in the parking lot when we got there but the Halloween decorations outside told us we were in the right place. As we approached the bottom of the steps up to the porch a woman in costume came out and explained to us that this was a dance for women only - no men allowed! Needless to say the guys were all relieved to be released back to the privacy of their boats, but we gals decided to forge ahead for the sake of a unique cultural opportunity.

The inside of the hall was decorated in traditional Halloween style with jack-o-lanterns and orange and purple (maybe black wasn't available) balloons. Aside from the ladies who were there to set up, we were the only ones there. Naturally we had arrived early in order to get good seats for the "show." There was a bar, a dance floor, and a DJ setup. We ordered drinks and stuck it out for about an hour before two in our group decided to bail. By that time the locals had started to arrive and the music started up but no one was dancing yet. Many women were in some great costumes or at least dressed all in black for the occasion. Two of us stayed for awhile longer to watch the dancing when it finally started (just normal club stuff), before the cigarette smoke and repetitious dance beat finally got to us. While it didn't turn out to be quite the experience we had imagined, it wasn't a total loss since it was a fund raiser for a local charity. Our take on the "ladies only" aspect was that they must relish the opportunity to get out for an evening of drinking, smoking, and dancing without the presence of men to inhibit them!

30 October 2005
Santa Rosalia to Isla San Marcos (19 miles)

We departed the day before a Norther was supposed to start blowing. Figured we'd be better off in a protected anchorage than the confines of the small harbor (with questionable holding). The south end of San Marcos is recommended for these conditions so we headed there with SolMate. Had a long day of trying to sail as much as possible, with lots of motoring thrown in. The anchorage is very pretty with the major drawback being that it is downwind of a gypsum mine. We never saw over 30 knots while we were there but the waves out in the channels were pretty big.

1 November 2005
Isla San Marcos to Punta Chivato (13 miles)

We will never anchor in that part of San Marcos again unless conditions are absolutely calm, and even then I think I'd pass. We were under a constant barrage of gypsum dust until I actually started to have a little dry cough. Got a coating of dust inside and out the boat and could feel it on our skin. Wiping off tables and counters didn't help since a new layer would form almost immediately. Ugh! Even though the seas were still up from the previous days of northerlies we left SolMate and headed for the protection behind Punta Chivato where we knew another boat had been riding it out. Had a bit of a wild sail in 6-8 foot seas. We've experienced similar or worse conditions but weren't prepared for it this time, so was a little too exciting. Was a relief to duck into Chivato where John took his first swim since cutting his foot.

2 November 2005
Punta Chivato to San Juanico (55 miles)

Another long day of trying to sail but mostly motoring - this one took almost 12 hours, before sunrise to almost sunset. This is one of most beautiful anchorages in Baja, which we didn't get to explore well enough when we came north because we were sitting out a big southerly. Dirt roads to hike on, beaches to walk on, and great snorkeling reefs and rocks. I could have easily stayed a few more days here.

November 5, 2005
San Juanico to La Lancha, Isla Carmen (30 miles)

Another day of light winds although we sailed the last two hours and anchored under sail. Think we may stay two nights here although we're anxious to get to Agua Verde where Milagro (and Rocky!) is after finishing their crossing from San Carlos yesterday.

We have a reservation at Marina Palmira from November 16 to December 2 where we'll do lots of boat chores and meet up with our friends, Ron and Anita, on Liberty Call II. They are doing the Baja Ha-Ha right now and Ron was the first Ha-Ha'er to check into the Sonrisa HAM net!

Linda and John

Monday, October 24, 2005

Bahia de los Angeles, Baja, Mexico

Rev 2

After a trip to the States in August 2005, we crossed over to Bahia de los Angeles (BLA) from San Carlos, Mexico in early September and spent four weeks there. I thought I'd summarize some of the basics for those of you who may want to visit next summer. It goes without saying that this is just a list of those places we frequented and is by no means comprehensive.

Most services are directly off the paved road running through BLA. I think of it as a north-south strip with hotels, mercados, RV parks, and houses to either side, and the beach to the east.

As we were told well in advance of our visit, "You can get just about anything you want in BLA except for cash." There are no banks or ATMs there! Your last opportunity to stock up on cash is in Santa Rosalia, or in San Carlos if you are making the crossing from there. We know of boats who paid exorbitant sums to go to a bank in Guerrero Negro, or had to leave early in the season because they were running short of cash. Do not bring anything larger than 200 peso notes, and it's even better if you can break those into smaller bills before you come. Many businesses will take U.S. dollars, and the exchange rate in 2005 was 10 pesos to one dollar.

There is no bus service. The main highway is 45 miles inland, where you may flag down a north or south bound bus.

Time Zones:
Baja California (north of about Punta Trinidad, which is north of Santa Rosalia) uses Pacific Time. Baja California Sur (south of Punta Trinidad) uses Mountain Time. And to make things really confusing, Sonora is always on Mountain Standard Time (like Arizona, they don't change to Daylight Savings). So in the summer BLA is on PDT, La Paz is on MDT, and San Carlos is on MST (which ends up being the same as PDT).

There is a large gringo population in BLA, with whom you may be able to make arrangements for things to be brought in from the States (or to send flat mail out). The land based community uses VHF channel 68 for hailing, as do the cruisers. There are no TelMex/Ladatel pay phones. Phone calls placed from Mini-Market Lizeth or Mercado Isla are about $1.00/minute to the U.S.

Dinghy Landings:
Easiest and most secure is the beach in front of Guillermo's RV Park/restaurant/mercado at the south side of the concrete launch ramp. Most convenient to the Pemex and purified water sources is the beach in front of overturned white pangas next to abandoned looking RV Park (big empty parking lot) at the north end of the strip. This is also at the foot of a road which leads up to Isla (see Mercados below) on the right.

There are several barrels under a grove of trees behind the buildings at Guillermo's.

Xitlali (aka "the yellow tienda") - Has the most stock and widest variety of dry goods and vegetables. The vegetable truck arrived late each Tuesday and we were often able to get first pick of the vegetables Tuesday night after we went out for tacos. Otherwise we'd go in Wednesday morning for first choice of the fresh things. If what's out doesn't look fresh to you, ask if they have more in the back. Located at the south end of the strip and up (west) a couple of blocks.
Casa Diaz - Not much here but friends told us they had the freshest eggs (don't forget your plastic egg container!). You can actually walk into their refrigerator to see what they have - just don't let the door close on you like I did! Located down the street towards the beach (east) from Xitlali.
Isla - Probably the second best selection of dry goods after Xitlali, they also have purified water with which you can fill your jugs, but no delivery to the beach. The internet is here and there is a small selection of inexpensive ice cream behind the counter. Located just up from the north dinghy landing, it's a two story building on the beach side of the street.
2 Pinos - We were able to bring our five gallon garrafons (10 pesos each) here to fill them with UV purified water and have them delivered to our dinghy on the nearby beach. Located across the street from Isla.

There is no wireless service in BLA. The only internet we used was at Isla and it cost us 15 pesos for half an hour. They had about six terminals and one spot for a laptop connection.

Pemex station is located on right hand side of street at north end of town, and had just opened recently. Closed for siesta from 2-4 PM, and closed for the night at 7:00 PM.

Yolanda will do it from her house for 60 pesos a load (most expensive in all of Mexico for us!). Even if you take it in early in the morning she will tell you to come back "manana en la tarde." Use the north dinghy landing and walk north towards the Pemex. Look for the Propane/Gasoline sign on the left side of the street (before you reach the Pemex) and walk up to the house behind this. The dogs are harmless.

Eating Out:
Hotel Costa del Sol - For 2x1 margaritas (grande con rocas are excellent) and breakfast (chilaquiles with hash browns for 45 pesos - what a deal!). Located north of Hotel Villa Vita; look for stone wall and steps; outdoor patio and indoor seating.
Taqueria La Carreta (aka China's - pronounced "Cheena's") - For tacos (adobada, carne asada, pescado); buy drinks at Mini-Market Lizeth next door which is owned by China's sister (beer needs to be transferred to a cup since China doesn't have a liquor license). Located on west side of street north as you walk north of Isla. Sometimes closes as early as 8:00 PM.
Palapa Reyna - For hamburgers (or tortas) and French fries. Owner speaks English very well. No liquor license, so bring your own from nearby tienda. Located on west side of street north of China's (look for surfboard sign on building).

This is a must see. Located west of the zocolo with a sign on the street pointing the way. Open from 9-12 and mid-afternoons for a couple of hours. I especially enjoyed studying their extensive and well labeled shell collection.

As for all of Mexico boats should be equipped with bug screens, especially for the no-see-ums, although these can vary greatly from place to place and season to season. In Baja there is the additional problem of bees searching for fresh water. They will make round trip visits to your boat for anything from laundry hanging out to dry, to a damp galley sponge - and they will tell their friends about this wonderful new source of water! So be prepared, especially if you are allergic. They are not typically aggressive, but most people we met were stung at least once. As with no-see-ums the bee populations will vary, and fortunately there is usually another anchorage just down the road to move to should they become a nuisance.

Because of some adverse weather we weren't able to venture as far as we'd hoped during our limited time in the BLA area. We spent five nights anchored in Puerto Don Juan with 14 other boats waiting to see what would happen with hurricane Otis (nothing), and several nights in La Gringa waiting out some north winds. We stayed two nights in the one boat anchorage between Pata and Bota islands, where the water was flat even when we saw white caps in both of the outer channels. Anchoring off the village behind the protection of the sand spit was always pleasant, and we also enjoyed our two visits to La Mona in the southern part of the bay ("SoBLA"). Due to north winds building when we tried it, we were never able to stay overnight at Las Rocas or Mitlan anchorages, but they looked like they would be interesting to explore. The anchorages of Quemado, Pescador, and Alacran on the coast south of BLA were favorite stops on our way to and from the bay. We used both the Cunningham and Williams guides extensively throughout our Sea of Cortez visit, with Charlie's Charts and the Rains guides as backups.

It may have been the great group of people we met up with during our stay, but we hated to leave Bahia de los Angeles! I hope you enjoy your time there as much as we did.

Linda and John

Saturday, October 22, 2005

First His Fishing Pole, Now This

October 22, 2005
Bahia San Francisquito

In the process of getting ready to prepare a meal of fish tacos for dinner tonight, our Corning Visions saucepan fell off one of the companionway steps. Attempting to prevent it from hitting the floor at full impact, John tried to catch it with his right foot but it had already shattered. So he now has a nice one inch cut in the ball of his foot right between his big toe and the next (index?) toe. Unfortunately it runs from the edge of the calloused ball of the foot to the tender base of the toes, making it tricky to keep closed. Took him a long time applying pressure to get it to stop bleeding. He has three butterfly bandages Super Glued to it with gauze taped over that, and we've elevated the leg. So now he just needs to keep it immobile for 24-48 hours to give it a chance to close up. Of course one trip to the bathroom and I can see blood under the gauze again already.

Oh, and I ended up having to fry the trigger fish John caught this morning. He'd already prepared the batter and I didn't want it to go to waste so I had him talk me through the basics. It turned out fine, but I swear I'd almost be a vegetarian if it wasn't for him since I don't like cooking meat (he usually cooks and I do the cleanup).

If it isn't one thing, it's another, but at least this is the perfect place to sit for a couple of days. Our friends on SolMate are moving on down the road tomorrow, so we'll catch up with them later in Santa Rosalia.

Linda (reluctant nurse) and John (always the patient)

Pole Overboard

I forgot to mention a "man overboard" drill that we had to do during our passage from Puerto Don Juan to Alacran. We were sailing along very nicely and John was bent over in the companionway futzing with the fish finder. The main sheet must have caught his rod and reel and popped it straight up enough so that it then slid right down through an opening in the pushpit (stern pulpit). It wasn't in use at the time, just stowed resting in the pushpit. He saw the pole floating for a few seconds so we immediately got the engine running and did an about face to try to find it, but the reel must have sunk it soon after it hit the surface. It was so sad because he had purchased the rod and reel at a fishing show that just happened to be running in San Diego when we visited there in April. Fortunately neither item was very expensive, but it will cost twice as much to replace the set down here. Oh, well, it's just money. Needless to say, he will be mounting a clip of some sort to secure the pole to the pushpit so this doesn't happen again.

John's out fishing as I write this. He has a backup pole, but he came home from fishing with it the other day and said he remembered why he didn't like it. It's so light that anything he catches feels like a huge fish. Not only is this a lot of work, but he would be in big trouble if he ever caught anything really sizeable on it!

We are still in San Francisquito where, other than the first windy day and night, the weather has been very mild. The water temp however, is down to 73 degrees and it was 68 degrees in the cabin this morning!

Linda and John

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Headed South

October 19, 2005
Bahia San Francisquito (BSF)
28 degrees 26 minutes N, 112 degrees 52 minutes W (about 50 miles south of BLA)

We spent two very restful nights in Puerto Don Juan, and the day before yesterday we decided to take a favorable wind to make our final getaway from BLA (Bahia de Los Angeles). It was a 10 mile run to Ensenada el Alacran where we had stopped before in September (this time all the yurts were full of vacationers!). We knew we'd need to make an o-dark-thirty departure for our run to BSF and, since Alacran has an open entrance with no major obstacles, this was a good anchorage from which to make our jump to BSF. We had a nice walk on the beach, and a swim in the ever colder water (down to 74.7 degrees there).

The reason for our 0400 departure from Alacran this morning was to catch a favorable tide for most of the 40 mile trip. We motor-sailed in light air for four hours before shutting down the engine and sailing the rest of the way. We both had to wear our fleece jackets this morning until the sun came up! The cool breeze has made hiking much nicer, but is not so great for swimming now. SolMate made the trip from BLA with us, and Slip Away, Kay II, and Ceilidh should catch up in a day or two. If not, we all have a date to rendezvous in Santa Rosalia for hot dogs!

Linda and John

Sunday, October 16, 2005

Running From Weather

October 16, 2005
Puerto Don Juan

We've been on the go for four days in a row now, and I'm pretty tired (John's napping) so this will only be long enough to let you know that after getting as far south as Bahia de las Animas yesterday, we returned to Puerto Don Juan this morning. The weather has been very unsettled and we seem to keep choosing anchorages that are only good for that day's weather - then we have to move the next day when the wind changes direction. Since PDJ is calm in all weather, we're looking forward to getting a good night's sleep tonight without the rocking and rolling we've had for the past three nights. It was a shame we had to leave Ensenada el Pescador because that's a really beautiful spot with an interesting looking reef which we didn't have time to snorkel. Maybe on the way back south again. Animas Bay is wide open to just about everything, so we'll probably give it a pass the next time.

In the meantime we've got overcast skies courtesy of the weather system affecting Southern California, but no rain yet. We'll keep our fingers crossed for a good boat wash out of it.

Linda and John

Friday, October 14, 2005

Wind, Reefs, and a Shark

October 14, 2005
Ensenada el Pescador
28 degrees 55 minutes N; 113 degrees 23 minutes W (about 10 miles south of BLA)

Well, maybe someday we'll get to eat dinner in the Las Rocas anchorage of Isla Smith, but not this summer. The first time we tried to go there was on September 22, but it was too windy and we diverted to La Gringa (that was the night of the cool missile launch from Vandenburg AFB). We tried again on September 28 and managed to stay long enough to have breakfast before being blown out, again to La Gringa. Yesterday we left the anchorage off the village of BLA determined to try it again, and this time we stayed long enough to eat our lunch before deciding the northerlies were building up again and it was too bouncy to stay there.

We thought we'd sail around the south end of the island and then up the east side to see if there was any protection there. Sometimes our depth sounder, which is also a fish finder, shows a dark band of fish above the bottom and I'm not always clear on which is the bottom and which are the fish. As we closed on the SW shore I noticed a sharp peak on the depth sounder and asked John if it was just fish. No, it was the bottom and we had to make a hard right to get back out into deeper water. Did I mention that it was very windy, making it difficult to see potential hazards in all the chop and spray? And that if I was up on the bow watching for hazards while John was steering, it was also difficult to be heard above the noise of the wind? Fortunately both of us spotted a particularly light patch of water ahead and to our left as we rounded the south end of the island and we were able to give it some additional distance. Hmmm, I think that was a reef, and yes, there's a big rock in the middle of it (well submerged underwater so all we really saw was a smudge of brown).

By this time we're motoring and I'm out on the end of the bow sprit full time looking for more bad stuff in the water. Unfortunately I wasn't thinking about John's state of mind (totally stressed out over what additional dangers might lurk ahead), so when I saw a six foot hammerhead shark visible under the surface of the water a boat length away, I yelled, "hammerhead, hammerhead, hammerhead" and pointed at it so that maybe John would get to see it too. But in all the wind and engine noise, and thinking that I'm only up there to alert him to dangers in the water, John didn't understand what I was yelling and pointing about and thought we were about to hit something, and was I pointing at a rock we were going to hit or was I showing him where to turn to avoid hitting the hard thing. Needless to say he was not happy to learn that I was only sightseeing.

Soon after this incident it became apparent that the east side of the island was no better than Las Rocas, and we turned south again. After discussing our options (Puerto Don Juan, La Gringa, La Mona, the village) we decided to take a look at a small bight on the south end of Isla La Ventana. We'd taken our dinghy around this island when we anchored between Pata and Bota and John had commented that it could give good protection from the northerlies. Since this is exactly what we needed, and it was the closest option, and we were both thinking we'd had enough for one day, we headed in towards the island.

But first, wouldn't you know it, there was a reef on the southeast side that the guidebook said we needed to avoid. So back up to the bow I went to try to see waves breaking on a submerged reef with wind waves breaking all around us and the afternoon sun in my eyes. We looked and we looked but couldn't find it, and I went back to the cockpit when we thought surely we must have cleared it by now. I think we were fussing with the sails when I happened to look out and see light green smudges under the water a couple of boat lengths away. I yelled "Rocks!" (much more effective than "hammerhead") and we turned the boat away from the reef just in time to avoid hitting it.

By this time both of us were thinking, "Can we please end this adventure now?", and shortly afterwards we dropped the anchor in 50' of water off of a notch in between two hills on the island. The wind still blasted down at us through the valley, but the water was flat and we were happy to be parked for the rest of the day.

This morning John went out and caught a yellow tail for our dinner tonight, and then had another wild ride here to Pescador. The wind came up early again from the north with an opposing tide, and the Sea was like a washing machine. Wouldn't have been so bad except that we were foolishly towing our dinghy which threatened to go under the stern of Nakia before John moved it over the port side so we could jibe in to the anchorage. Hard to believe that we're supposed to get southerlies Sunday, in which case we'll have to move on. And yes, this time we'll put the dinghy up on deck first!

Linda and John

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

No Comment

Just a quick note to let everyone know that we've disabled the comments feature of our blog site. We were beginning to attract spammers, and the hope is that this will make them go away. We'll try turning it back on in another month or so.

Linda and John

Sunday, October 09, 2005


(Note: a lot of this stuff happened before Otis. I'm a little behind on blogging.)

We spent a couple days of days anchored off a vacation village at the southern end of Bahia de Los Angeles known by the local yachties as SoBLA. One of the boats which spends time in this area during the summer has a little place there (a micro trailer with an attached porch and small storage unit). They invited us all ashore for a game of dart. Yes, 'dart', singular. They have a dart board hanging off the porch roof but over the years all but one dart has been lost. So we took turns throwing it at the board until Lance saved us all by announcing that he'd brought his set of darts. Fun as it was, 'dart' was a little boring. Darts was far more entertaining.

After leaving SoBLA we were fortunate to get to spend a couple of nights in a little hole between two small islands. Pata and Bota (foot and boot) are about 100 yards from one another and the gap forms a 1/4 mile long anchorage aligned almost exactly east and west. This seems really nice until you know that sometimes the wind blows very hard from the west at night. The forecast was good so we decided to risk it. It turned out to be everything we were looking forward to, isolated and a little wild. We had all sorts of wildlife to watch including sea turtles, osprey, sea lions, and several birds we hadn't seen in a long time like a kingfisher. The fishing was excellent - in one morning I caught 5 yellow tail, 4 sierra, a dozen barracuda and a few trigger (I kept two yellow tail). After two nights we figured we had just about used up our luck in this risky spot so we decided to go up to a place called 'Las Rocas' where we planned on meeting up with friends.

The next morning the forecast was for light northerly winds, and while the anchorage at Las Rocas is not the best in north wind it should have been fine. If the forecast was accurate that is. We're getting the idea now that we can't really rely on any forecast in the Sea of Cortez. Anyway we started out in light north winds and by the time we got the anchor down in Las Rocas it was blowing 15-18 out of the NW. THe anchorage wasn't bad, so we settled down to have breakfast. 45 minutes later, the wind was blowing 25 with much higher gusts and it was clear we were going to have to move. Getting up the anchor in gusts over 30 was pretty exciting, but we did it and got out in the channel where the waves were pretty big and nasty. Luckily, we only had to go three miles to get to our backup anchorage (La Gringa), so we only had to put up with the rough water for 45 minutes or so.

We stayed at La Gringa, hanging out with Stan and MJ, until the whole Otis scare started up. You know the saga of that.

John and Linda

Monday, October 03, 2005

Otis Has Left the Building

8:00 AM PDT October 3, 2005
Puerto Don Juan

Unbeknownst to the other we each wrote updates so here are both of them.

Linda writes:
It's looking like Otis is going to be a non-event for us, and now we're hoping to at least get a boat wash out of it. Yesterday was completely clear with a nice breeze of 15-18, and we even had our sun shade up all day. Since we already had everything stripped or lashed down above decks we spent the day reading and visiting with other boats. Three of the divers checked anchors, and everything looked good (though inexplicably one boat dragged later in the day and had to re-anchor). Last night was completely calm and clear. We woke up this morning to about 90% cloud cover and still very calm. Puerto Escondido, El Burro Cove, and Punta Chivata are reporting rain and squalls, so hopefully a little of that will come our way soon.

We're all looking forward to holding our post Otis beach potluck as soon as possible so we can get out of here and get cruising again!

John writes:
Well it's starting to look like we got all prepared for nothing, which is exactly how we want it. As if to underscore the unpredictability of tropical cyclones Otis didn't do anything the forecasters said and is dying a quick painless death and is now headed up the outside of the Baja. At one time packing winds over 125 mph Otis has backed down to 40 mph and is expected to get down to 28 mph by tomorrow morning.

This morning we have a lot of overcast and a little rain, which except for the humidity is welcome. Today's projects include wiping dirt and salt off the boat with rain water, slowly reassembling the boat, and planning the wake/potluck for Otis.

John and Linda

Sunday, October 02, 2005

Ready and waiting?

7:00 AM PDT October 2, 2005
Puerto Don Juan (PDJ)

While John's running the Amigo net this morning I'll take a moment to update our Otis status. Yesterday morning after the radio nets (Sonrisa and Amigo) we moved to PDJ from La Gringa, in NoBLA (northern Bahia de Los Angeles). We had removed the staysail after our crossing from San Carlos since we don't need it for the coastal day trips, and we make a habit of removing our headsail from the furler to prevent UV damage. So the only remaining sail to take off the boom was the main, which we did while motoring to PDJ since it was calm. Most of the boats here have removed their head sails and lashed their mains, but our sail cover is cut so big that it's more effective (and not that difficult) for us to just completely remove it. Yes, this leaves us without backup in case the engine fails, but we wouldn't be able to sail upwind under mail alone anyway. And if the wind is that strong, we should be able to move in any other direction under bare poles. That's the theory and we're hoping we don't have to test it.

There are currently 14 boats in the anchorage with #15 due to arrive later this morning. This is a very low number compared to past years when there have been anywhere from 25-30 boats in this hurricane hole. Hard to imagine trying to fit half again our number in here because it's not that big, and everyone has 225-300' of anchor chain out! But we're pretty well spaced out, and today some of the people who SCUBA dive are going to check the set of our anchors.

This morning is calm and mostly clear with high humidity (our decks were wet this morning). It's sounding as if Otis is diminishing somewhat which is good news to all of us. This morning's report has the wind arriving here tomorrow morning at 35-55 knots. We'll try to make regular updates, but keep in mind that we may be very busy once the storm arrives!

Linda and John

Saturday, October 01, 2005

Waiting for Otis

2 PM PDT October 1, 2005
Puerto Don Juan, Bahia de Los Angeles
28 degrees 56.631' North; 113 degrees 27.132' West

As some of you already know we're preparing for hurricane Otis to make landfall somewhere along the Baja Pacific coast soon. No one really knows where it's going to land or what it will do after that so it's a bit of a waste of time trying to second guess it. We are proceeding under the assumption that it will hit us and hit us hard. Will try to keep everyone updated as best we can!

Linda and John

Thursday, September 29, 2005

Local Attractions

September 22, 2005

We left La Mona early in the morning, sailing off the anchor using only the drifter. We only had about five nm to go to get to our destination, and with all day to get there we didn't mind going slow. Everything was going well, we only had another mile or so to go, when I noticed the unmistakable sound of bees buzzing around the boat. The sound grew stronger and stronger, but I couldn't really locate where the bees were. Finally I looked up at the top of the mast and saw a swarm of 25-50 bees buzzing around up there. The wind was very light so they were easily able to keep up with NAKIA. We watched them for awhile and then decided we had to do something. They were starting to land and looked like they were getting ready to set up housekeeping. We started the engine and motored toward the only wind we could see. Slowly the bees dropped away until all of them were gone. Too bad we weren't able to sail all the way but at least we didn't have a bee hive in our mast.

After dodging the bees we headed into the anchorage in front of the town of Bahia de Los Angeles, population approximately 500. Commonly referred to as 'The Village' it has about five stores, one paved road, and one stop sign. It's the only place within 80 miles to get provisions and while the pickings are usually slim, if you're patient and go to all five stores you can usually find enough fresh veggies to keep you happy. We didn't really need fresh food so we went for the other main attraction. Two for one margaritas, and tacos from the roadside taco stand. Our social director, Jo, decided that to avoid the rush we'd go have 2 for 1 margaritas at one of the motels first. By the time we finished there, and had walked down the road to the taco place, it was 8:10 PM and the proprietress had closed up shop and was backing out in her truck to go home. We walked on a little farther to a place that another couple had recommended for hamburgers and fries, which was still open. Our six orders took awhile to prepare but everything was good and worth the wait so we didn't mind.

The next morning we had a date to meet at 8:00 for two stops, 1) breakfast at the motel with the two for one margaritas and 2) a visit to the local museum. The breakfast was excellent (yes we had breakfast, not margaritas)! Linda says it was one of the best meals we've had anywhere. She had chilaquiles, which are basically pieces of tortilla fried up with onion, mixed with salsa and cheese, and can be topped by two fried eggs. Yummy. The museum was nicely done for a place this size and had a great collection of shells and their identifications. Now we know what we've been picking up off the beaches.

That evening we finally got to try the fabled tacos, but we both thought the adobada (marinated pork) and carne asada were a bit greasy and fatty. Guess we'll have to go back to the motel for more chilaquiles and margaritas instead!

John and Linda

Jacuzzi at La Mona

September 19, 2005

We pulled anchor after four nights in Quemado and set sail (literally) for La Mona, inside Bahia Los Angeles. The sailing in this area is pretty nice. Winds in the morning are generally light, but destinations are usually very close (we sailed 8.7 nm to get from Quemado to La Mona) so we don't mind spending all morning going slowly. The best thing is that once you get in the bay, the water is usually very calm. There's no swell and the chop is low or non-existent. It's like sailing on a lake! Our trip to La Mona was one of the faster ones we've done, taking only two hrs to go 8.7 nm (4.3 kt average) and we did it almost entirely under sail. We only had to start the motor for the last 100 yards or so to get the anchor down.

The big attraction at La Mona is the 'Jacuzzi', a small lagoon behind the beach that fills with water during high tides and then empties, creating a whirling stream of water where beach goers can sit and be massaged by the soothing flow. Or so we were told. We got to La Mona a couple of days after the highest tides and, not knowing exactly when to go or how to sit and be massaged, we arrived near the top of the flood. The incoming tide at this point could hardly be referred to as a 'stream' so we splashed about in the water near the beach and planned to come back during the ebb. Then we thought for sure we would be massaged by the soothing flow. We arrived back on the beach having had lunch and headed directly for the Jacuzzi. Imagine our disappointment when we saw only a small stream of water making its way from the lagoon. Surely, THIS isn't the soothing flow, we thought, but we entered the water anyway and attempted to make the best of our situation. Desperately hoping that we didn't look to the other beach goers like two kids sitting in a street gutter after a rain storm.

After returning to NAKIA we decided we needed professional help (no, not that kind of professional help). We enlisted our friends Stan and MJ from SolMate, who are veteran Jacuzzi goers, to come and show us how and when to be massaged by the soothing flow. They arrived the next day and we prepared to have the best beach day possible. We packed a picnic basket, set up our beach umbrellas, put our beach chairs in the sand, put on sunscreen, and waited while the lagoon filled to its maximum height. Then waited more, with the pause at high tide stalling the eventual ebb, only increasing our anticipation. Finally the ebb started and, the critical moment having arrived, we placed our bodies in the stream for maximum relaxation. The ebb built to a mild stream and we had a good time drifting down and sitting in the water. It was fun, to be truthful, but not the soothing flow we'd been expecting. It turns out that two or three days ago, when the tide was at its maximum, we really would have had something to talk about. But the tides were not so high now and as a result we didn't really get the best of the Jacuzzi. Maybe next year.

John and Linda

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

More Fishing

September 16, 2005

The reason we went from Alacran to Quemado was to celebrate Jo's (Milagro) birthday. Lance, Jo's husband, secretly sent out emails and radio messages to other friends so we could have a surprise party on the beach. Of course Jo figured it out when all these boats that she hadn't seen in a long time started arriving in the bay, but we had a good party even though it wasn't much of a surprise. The men gathered up a bunch of wood and we set up a table on the beach for a potluck. Dinner was wonderful, as all potlucks are, and Nakia served brownies for Jo's birthday cake. We didn't have candles so I held a miniature butane lighter for Jo to blow out after we sang Happy Birthday to her. Cruising is all about improvising...

My main entertainment is fishing. Sometimes I get up early in the morning and troll along the shore to catch grouper and trigger fish, other times I wait for dusk and try for yellow tail and rooster fish along the beach. Well, one morning I went out looking for whatever I could catch, working in and out of the shore. I was catching a few fish, but mostly trigger fish which I wasn't interested in keeping and barracuda, which I wish would find some way to get themselves off the hook so I don't have to handle their slimy bodies. I was about ready to give up and go back to NAKIA when I hooked a pretty big fish, it started pulling line off the reel, and then far back behind the boat I saw a fish leap from the water. At first I thought I'd hooked a large yellow tail but it soon became clear that it was a dorado, hooked within 50 ft of shore! I fought it to the dinghy, identified it as a female, about 38-40 inches long. I don't like keeping female dorado, one female fish can make a lot of baby fish, so I decided to release it if I could. I finally got ahold of its tail and got the hook out and then went about the process of reviving it. When you fight large fish to exhaustion it can take a long time for them to recover, usually I hold the fish horizontally in the water and move it's tail back and forth like it's swimming. This is supposed to stimulate water flow over the gills and help it pump blood to weary muscles. The problem was that it wasn't working, this fish was not waking up. Not only that but a sea lion had noticed me and was swimming around under the dinghy just waiting for me to let go! I tried for another few minutes and finally came to the decision that either the sea lion could eat the dorado or I could, and I'd much rather I ate it. So off to NAKIA we went for a date with the fillet knife.

John and Linda

Saturday, September 24, 2005

The latest

Well, it's been awhile since I've updated the blog. I'd like to say it's because we've been too busy, but I know you all would just laugh at the outrageousness of that (how can two people without jobs, kids, or schedule be too busy to do anything). So I'll just say it's because I haven't been in the creative writing mood lately.

After our crossing from San Carlos we met up with Milagro and SolMate at Isla Partida. There's another, better known, Isla Partida just outside of La Paz but this Isla Partida is special in it's own right. It reminded me most of the island of Molikini off shore from Maui. It has the same shape, almost as if it were once a volcano and one side of the crater washed away opening up a 'U' shaped bay. We rafted up to SolMate when we got there to pass off all their treasures from the States as well a few 'bonus prizes' we brought back with us. Milagro came over too, and we had a little party watching Stan put together his new fans. Unfortunately the wind came up out of the north (that's where the 'U' is open) and we had to leave the next morning because of the chop driving into the bay.

Our next stop was Ensenada Alacran where we spent four peaceful nights. Backed by a large white sand beach and a small eco-resort (10 yurts and a hut) Alacran was a great place for fishing, swimming and diving. Of course I'm not qualified to do the latter so I was happy playing support crew for Lance and Stan while they swam around in the briny deep. One of their dives was for large 'free swimming' scallops and they managed to bring back enough so each couple could have 4. Now 4 scallops doesn't sound like a lot, but these are BIG, one scallop gives 3-4 ounces of meat, so four is about all two people can eat. When Lance brought his load up to the dinghy he began examining them closely, explaining that when one is down on the bottom it's hard to tell if the scallop is alive or just an empty shell. He threw out a few empties and gave me four which seemed good. We took them back to the boats to clean them and having done my first three easily I started puzzling over the fourth. The first three opened without much of a fight but the fourth wasn't even starting to open. As an experiment I put my knife in at the hinge of the shell and gave a twist and the shell popped right open. However, the inside of the scallop didn't look like the others, in fact it looked like something else entirely. Gently opening the shell, I peeked inside and found a small octopus staring back at me with several egg sacks attached to the inside of the shell. The octopus was holding the shell closed as hard as it could, presumably four legs on the top half and four on the bottom. I showed my discovery to Linda, and then slipped the expectant mother and her brood back into the water where they can finish their development in peace.

There are places to stay all over in this area, probably 30 anchorages in a 60 square mile area. So the next spot 'down the road' is usually only 5-10 miles away making it easy to sail from one spot to the next. This is just what we did to go from Ensenada Alacran to Bahia El Quemado, a whopping six nautical mile jaunt. Amazingly, we actually passed a third anchorage on our way, El Pescador. Since we weren't going far we decided to sail the whole way, even if it meant having to go very slowly. We set our nylon drifter and sailed at speeds anywhere from 1.0 to 4.5 kts and made it to Bahia El Quemado in two and a half hours sailing 7.0 nautical miles to get there. We used the engine when pulling the anchor, but dropped the anchor under sail. All this slow sailing was very amusing to our buddy boats, Milagro and SolMate. We were the brunt of several comments about being purists. That's okay, I'll get them back when they have to lug diesel fuel from the Pemex to their boats in jerry jugs when they have to refuel.

John and Linda

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Travel Log

I've been thinking about our visit to the USA and thought you guys might be interested in some of the statistics.

We traveled approximately 4000 miles.

We bought 15 tanks of gasoline for two different cars.

On our return trip we carried approximately 1000 lbs of food and equipment in our truck including:

6 gal of motor oil
75 ft of anchor chain
5 ea 70 lb batteries
25 lbs of cous cous
25 lbs of granola
32 cans of Albacore tuna
8 swimming noodles
10 splash bombs
50 lbs of cat litter

We started and finished in San Carlos, Sonora, MX and made stops at the following cities:

Tijuana, BC, MX
San Diego, CA
Long Beach, CA
Redwood City, CA
Weed, CA
Grant's Pass, OR
Milwaukie, OR
Vancouver, WA
Seattle, WA
Winslow, WA
Pendleton, OR
Bend, OR
Fremont, CA
Redwood City, CA (return trip)
Tracy, CA
Oxnard, CA
Tucson, AZ
Nogales, AZ

We slept in one bus, one boat, three campgrounds, one hotel, seven houses, one apartment, and one motel:

Mexican Bus 1 night - August 5
Patti's house 1 night - August 6
Sharon's boat 1 night - August 7
Oregon campground 1 night - August 8
Washington campground 1 night - August 9
Seattle hotel 3 nights - August 10,11,12
Linda B.'s apartment 1 night - August 13
Lucks' beach house 1 night - August 14
Leslie and Tom's house 4 nights - August 15,16,17,18
Oregon campground 1 night - August 19
Frank and Lynn's house 4 nights - August 20,21,22,23
Eliza's house 4 nights - August 24,25,26,27
Patrick and Gina's house 1 night - August 28
Len and Norma's house 2 nights - August 29,30
Tucson motel 1 night - August 31

Thanks to all our family and friends for their kindness and generosity during our mega visit to the wonderful West Coast - we couldn't have done it without you!

John and Linda

Friday, September 09, 2005

Back in Baja

8:00 AM September 9, 2005
28 degrees 45' N, 113 degrees 02' W
Underway from Bahia San Francisquito to Isla Partida (Norte)

We moved out of Marina Real on September 5 as planned, after unloading and stowing everything from the truck, and buying more provisions to fill the larder. We used to list to starboard but now we really list to port because of the five batteries for SolMate stored on that side. After wrapping up all the final arrangements for storing the truck, and getting everything we needed before we left the big city, we departed the San Carlos area on September 7 for an anchorage 20 miles north (Las Cocinas). This gave us a better start position for the crossing to Baja.

John talked to Don Anderson, S/V Summer Pasage, (aka The Weather Guy) and got an all clear for no chubasco activity forecast for that night, so we were underway at 9:30 PM. It turned out to be a very monotonous motor trip with glassy seas all night and the next day. The only event to break the boredom was another 30" male dorado which John brought aboard at 11:00 on September 8. We didn't get any wind until we approached the anchorage at 1:00 PM, and then there was a good land breeze creating too much chop to swim in the cool water - 80 degrees!

Last night we didn't get much sleep when the boat started to roll sideways to the swell at around 11:30 PM. We got up at 3:00 AM to get underway for Isla Partida, where we're meeting SolMate and Milagro with their goodies from the States. It's been another long motor sail today and we're pretty tired after two nights of not much sleep. We're really looking forward to staying put in one place for several days after we get to Partida!

Linda and John

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Hola from San Carlos

Well, we made it back to Mexico safe and sound and without having to pay any duty at the border. The only hiccup was the hour and a half it took us to get the Temporary Import Permit for the truck. It should have been simple, but we didn't have our passports, or our original birth certificates, and they didn't like the copies we presented. John finally stressed the fact that we already had our FM-3 visas, and he eventually got the TIP.

It was 95 degrees down in the cabin, but except for a fishy smell from the chain locker, all is well with the boat. We put some things away, but are saving most of it for what we hope will be a somewhat cooler morning.

Just a quick one to let everyone know where we are again!

Linda and John

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Mosquitoes and Rain and Bears, oh my!

August 9, 2005
Seaquest Washington State Park, about 150 miles South of Seattle

We didn't have far to go from Portland to Seattle, but didn't want to arrive in Seattle before our motel check-in time, so we decided to find a camp ground somewhere in the middle. There were a couple of possibilities and we stopped at Seaquest first.

Seaquest, contrary to its name, is nowhere near the ocean. It's about 15 miles east of I-5, on the highway to Mount St. Helens. From the entry kiosk it looked like a nice park, so we headed into the camp ground to set up. On the way in we passed a bicyclist heading out of the tent camping area carrying all his camping gear. This should have been our first warning. We pulled into our camp site at around 4:30 PM and I started setting up while Linda wandered off to find the bathroom. When she got back she said there was a group of bicyclists leaving their camp site all complaining about the mosquitoes. Linda asked them, 'What time do the mosquitoes come out?' thinking that they would, as usual, come out at dusk. The cyclist replied, 'They're out now!' Of course I already knew that, because of the swarm buzzing around me as I set up the tent. Linda madly searched the camping gear for some bug repellant and found some years old industrial strength stuff which seemed to dissuade the little beasts even though I'm sure it was well past its expiration date.

Our first disaster averted we sat down (in the tent) to read and while away the evening hours. After a nice hot shower and a bite to eat we bedded down for a cozy nights sleep... which was interrupted at about 1:00 AM by the sound of some slobbery animal nosing around outside the tent. Linda was the first to awake, which was amazing because she can sleep through a gale on NAKIA, and promptly roused me with an urgent whisper, 'John, there's an animal outside the tent!' Being not too very awake, I listened carefully and found that whatever it was was either getting quieter or farther away. I sat for a few seconds and confirmed what I suspected - the animal gave us a slobbery sniff or two, decided we were not good to eat and moved on. I then told Linda to go back to sleep. She never follows my advice on these things so while I reacquainted myself with the inside of my eyelids she sat awake making sure the animal didn't change its mind about its dinner options.

The night went quietly by for another couple of hours until I was awakened by a loud splat somewhere near the tent. I sat up and waited and heard another, then another. It was raining, and I hadn't put the rain cover over the tent the night before. The only thing we had between our nice dry sleeping bags and the rain clouds was a layer of no-see-um netting. So I put my shoes on, not bothering with my pants, and hastily threw the rain cover over the tent while Linda slept soundly in her bag. I guess I should have made some bear noises if I wanted to get her attention.

John and Linda

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Moving North

August 8, 2005
Vally of the Rogue Oregon State Park
About 250 miles South of Portland

We started our long trip North from San Diego on Saturday afternoon. We didn't have far to go the first day, just to Long Beach to spend the night with Linda's friend Patti. We got to see the results of the extensive renovation done on the house; when we were there many years ago it was just getting started.

We left Patti's house early the next morning (Sunday) and enjoyed a very quick trip into the Bay Area, only 6.5 hours drive from Long Beach. We were amazed that we didn't have any heavy traffic in the LA area or in the Bay Area. We spent the night on Mrs. Robinson (that's a boat, not a person) after having dinner with friends at our favorite U.S. taqueria, La Azteca in Redwood City.

Monday morning found us in line at the DMV before it opened. We want to get our truck back on the road and before we would be able to do that we had to get it registered. When we left it at my sister's house we submitted a certificate of non-opperation. This allowed us to keep from registering it, or so we thought. After standing in line at the DMV we were informed that since we only had it in non-op for 11 months, we had to pay regististration on the 11 months. So we didn't save anything. That's the DMV for you.

After the DMV we made a trip to the Post Office to turn in applications for new passports. That only took a short time so we were on the road to OR before 9:30. Once again we didn't have any traffic to speak of and made it all the way to the Rogue River before we stopped for the night. On the way we couldn't resist stopping for hamburgers at the Weed bowling alley, the best burgers, fries and shakes in Northern California. The camp site at Valley of the Rogue was quiet and clean and there were hardly any mosquitoes in the evening, perfect for a couple of out of practice campers.

The next day we got going bright and early to get to the Portland area to pick up the truck from my sister's house. This we did and then headed to the airport to drop off the rental car. This seemingly simple activity was complicated by having to FIND the rental car office. Which, after driving around the airport, we found is not located at the airport and instead is located in a hotel complex some 3 miles east. We almost had to pay for an extra day because of traffic getting to the return counter.

We made it though and then returned to Milwaulkie to go to Bob's Red Mill for food for the boat. We like a lot of stuff at Bob's Red Mill, especially the Cous Cous and Granola. So, we bought 25 lb bags of both. That may seem like a lot of Cous Cous and Granola (no, we don't mix them together) but we're going to be away from this kind of thing for at least another year so we need to get stocked up.

Our final erand in the Portland area was to investigate puting a cover over the bed of the truck. We'd been thinking about this for awhile and when we noticed a place along the highway that sold pickup tops we decided to stop in and take a look. We were met by a very nice salesman who, after listening to what we wanted, told me it would be about $800 USD to put a shell over the bed of my truck. Now, since the truck itself isn't worth more than $2000 USD, I didn't want to put that much into it. After informing the nice salesman, he remembered a used shell they had in the back - price: $250. Much better. Of course we wouldn't have our choice of color or model, but we could at least take a look and see if we could live with it. Well, it turns out that the used shell matches the paint on the truck pretty close, and is 'high rise' just like I wanted in the first place. Also, it came off an older model Toyota pickup truck. Perfect! So after $20 to have it installed, $20 for a new lock and $20 for a tip to the nice salesman we drove out with a $310 top for our truck. Now we can lock things in the bed and not worry about them getting wet or dirty or stolen.

Off we went with our 'new truck' to find a camp site somewhere between Portland and Seattle...

John and Linda

Thursday, August 11, 2005

New Pics!

Hi Everyone,
We haven't posted any pics in a while, mostly because it takes real internet access to do and we haven't had that in months. So here are a few pictures from our recent advenctures.

John and Linda

Back in the USA, here's our campsite in Rogue River on our way north.

The Dorado we caught coming across the Sea of Cortez to San Carlos

Here is a pic of Santa Rosalia in the morning, it looks so peaceful doesn't it?

Here's a picture of Linda and her buddy Rocky at the 'noodle party'. A noodle party is where we all sit around on noodles or other pool toys in the water on hot afternoons.

Here is NAKIA decked out for 4th of July at Burro Bay. Unfortunately you can't see all the flags very well because the sun awning is in the way, but there's no way we were going to take the sun awning down on a 96 degree day!

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Here is NAKIA and SOL MATE at anchor in Medano Blanco. Nice Beach!

These are blossoms on a large cactus. This picture is from La Ramada North of San Juanico.

Two 'bugs' we got at Isla Carmen, very tasty.