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Sunday, June 19, 2005

Happy Father's Day!

June 19, 2005
San Juanico, Baja California del Sur, 26o 21' N 111o 25' W
About 40 miles south of Mulege

Hope the Dads are enjoying all the things that fathers like best today - family, friends, and BBQs!

Unfortunately this has been one of those weeks where paradise hasn't quite lived up to its name, and we're going a little stir crazy. For me, it started after we left Puerto Escondido. We were shooting for Puerto de la Lancha on Isla Carmen so that John could hook up with Bob on Air Power to do some fishing, but the wind was not in our favor and when we started taking spray over our freshly washed fiberglass we bailed for Puerto Ballandra (also Isla Carmen) instead. This was a pretty, well protected cove with lots of bait fish and at least a dozen larger fish herding them around (you could see them making a wake right at the surface). But the water clarity was poor and we had a few mud wasps trying to build a nest underneath our anchor windlass so we decided we'd leave the next morning.

Got an early start for the motor trip around the corner to anchor with Air Power and Adios in La Lancha, where there is no sandy beach to gaze upon, there were many stinging jellyfish (string of pearls), there are no trespassing signs on shore, and the wind came up every afternoon. We stayed there for two nights and John did a lot of fishing with Bob. They came back the first day with a couple of good sized "bugs" (it isn't legal for us to take lobster so cruisers only take bugs). Maybe it was because it was the first time we've cooked them ourselves, but we weren't all that impressed. Dungeness are still our crustaceans of choice. The next morning they got up early and went out fishing for five hours, returning with a few tasty fine scale trigger fish for our dinner.

On we went to Isla Coronados trying to sail most of the way to conserve fuel. This was a very pretty and protected anchorage with a beautiful white sand beach, shade palapas, an outhouse, and a groomed trail as part of the park system under which these local islands fall. We swam from Nakia to shore and didn't have a problem with jellyfish. We read a sign stating there is a 20 peso/person/day park fee. The over 60 crowd is exempt from the fee, as are "residents," and there was a rumor that an FM-3 visa would qualify for the latter. But this didn't seem to work for another boat in the anchorage so don't count on it. It was nice to get some exercise and get off the boat for a little while, the first time for me since leaving Puerto Escondido.

By the time we swam back to the boat we had over twice as many bees as when we left. We think this may be because SolMate had tried putting water out for them up on the bow of their boat, the theory being that if they have a water source they won't bother the rest of the boat looking for more water. Sounds like a good idea but I think maybe it just ends up drawing more bees to your boat! Most people go the opposite route, trying to eliminate all sources of open fresh water on the boat - dry sponges, dry sinks, etc. Today we heard that some people go so far as to kill them by attracting them with sugar water laced with detergent. This seems kind of cruel but I guess that's just because we have yet to experience our first real bee swarm. I'm sure I'll be changing my tune after that.

On Friday, when we moved from Isla Coronados to San Juanico (back on the Baja), it was just one of those days where everything seemed to go wrong. To get away from the bees (which returned exactly at sunrise; did you know that bees use the sun to navigate?) we left before the wind had filled in and so drifted around in circles for an hour. Finally we had a nice sailing breeze to get to the big open anchorage where there were already five other boats. But as we made our final approach into the anchorage, instead of getting calmer (which is kind of the point of going into an anchorage, I think, to get out of the wind), the wind seemed to pick up intensity. We still needed to get our main sail down and in an attempt to get it down and all rolled up in a hurry the boom came off the boom gallows, the topping lift hadn't been secured, and John went down hard on the side deck, splitting open the bottom crease of his pinkie toe where it attaches to the foot.

We managed to get anchored fine after that, but it's been windy every day, starting a couple of hours earlier in the morning each day and not easing up until after sunset. On top of the wind chop there's a swell running which keeps us rolling even with the rocker stopper out. This morning we moved farther south to try and tuck in closer behind the reef but it doesn't seem to have helped much. So swimming is out, dinghy touring is out (too wet and rough), and outdoor showering is out. I managed to get one swim to shore late on our arrival day and haven't been off the boat since then. Of course everything but fishing is out for John until his toe heals up.

The rest of the time we read, eat, sleep, and sweat too much. We don't want to move north to Bahia Concepcion too soon for the Fourth of July celebration because people up there are already melting from the heat. We've noticed much higher humidity here too - we're sticky all day and the decks are wet well before sunset. So the best thing about the wind here is that it gives us built-in air conditioning while we wait to move into the real heat.

John here:
Bob and I went night fishing night before last, the idea being that red snapper and other large bass types (big grouper included) feed at night. That didn't really turn out to be the case, but we did have a bit of fun on the way out. It was right near sunset and we decided to troll our way out to the rocks where we were going to fish for 'the beeg ones.' About half way there I got a huge strike but no hook up, very encouraging, so we circled our way back around and sure enough I hooked into something that started pulling line out at a very rapid pace. 25 minutes later, Bob netted my 24 inch Jack Crevalle (kre-VAL-ey). Talk about fun! These fish are not good eating but have a reputation as fierce fighters and after examining my lure I believe it. Two out of three barbs on each of the two treble hooks were bent straight! I managed to get him in on a single barb barely hooked into his lip. After a short time in the net to get the hook out back he went to fight another day. I hooked another one later on the way out but was 'in a hurry' to bring it in and must have pulled the hook out.

The night fishing turned out to be a bust, the only thing we caught was a moray eel that Bob hooked. Talk about a handful, it would tie itself into knots and squirm all over the place. It took us almost 20 minutes just to get the hook out. Both of us. Holding on to it with both hands. I hope I never hook another one of those!

There's no such thing as too much fun, so last night right at sunset I trolled by myself through the same area where I hooked the Crevalle last night. I hooked another one that took about 20 minutes to land, it was around 28 inches, then trolled a little longer and hooked another one that took almost 45 minutes to land! It measured over 30 inches, and towed the dinghy over 1/4 mile. (The reason it was taking so long to land these two fish is that my net is too small for them, I have to get them tired enough that I can grab them by the tail to get the hook out.) I'm not sure how long my lure is going to last with these guys crushing it, but I intend to find out.

Linda and John
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