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Thursday, June 28, 2007

La Ramada

28 June 2007

Things I'd rather be doing instead of composing this blog: walking on the white sand beach looking at shells; reading my latest good book, "Barometer Rising" by Hugh MacLennan; snorkeling and swimming in the aquamarine swimming pool we call an anchorage, and looking for the school of 15 golden rays residing here; hiking to San Juanico bay over the small hills to the south; listening to the two morning nets to find out where our friends are; or working a crossword puzzle with John. Things I've had to do instead of writing a blog: vacuum the boat (the first time this summer that the heat and humidity were so high I had to wipe up the sweat dripping from my chin and elbows as I went along); clean out the cockpit for company (where does all that sand come from?); get outboard parts out of long term storage for various repairs John had to make; and make the morning coffee and lunches, and wash the breakfast, lunch and dinner dishes. Okay, so there's not all that much to the latter list!

We've bounced from La Ramada to Punta San Antonio (just north of Punta Pulpito) and back south here to La Ramada, one of our favorites. The boats already up in Bahia Concepcion are reporting cabin temps in the mid-90s and water temps from the mid-80s to the low-90s, depending on depth. If that keeps up, we will most likely not go to El Burro Cove for the Fourth unless it's by rental car from Mulege! So we're taking our time and enjoying the places we like best for as long as the weather cooperates.

We've been a bit dismayed by signs of development in both the San Juanico and Punta Pulpito areas. New dirt roads have scarred both landscapes, heavy equipment and a construction trailer have sprung out of nowhere, and Pulpito is sporting an expensive looking and perfectly straight (great surveying job), three strand, barbed wire fence, protecting what looks like a dirt air strip in progress. The latter runs from the beach up an incline to the west which means the prevailing north-south winds blow at right angles to the air strip. That should make for interesting landings - up a hill in a cross wind. I guess the takeoffs would be downhill, except that if you didn't get lift off in time, you'd end up flying off the bluff into the sea. Kewl!

The fancy fence prevented us from hiking to Punta Pulpito, but the cleared area next to it made for a nice path out to the SE edge of Punta San Antonio where we could turn west along the bluffs back to the beach. There were a couple of interesting veins of quartz and some other crystallized rock along the way and, because it was Saturday, there was no one around to chase us off if they would have been so inclined. It was interesting to us that unfenced San Juanico had a few "Propiedad Privada" signs posted on the new dirt roads, while at Punta Pulpito the fence was the message. During the week at San Antonio clouds of floury dirt were created by the industrious work of a dump truck, a bucket loader, and a grader. The workers drove their pickup trucks to and from the work site along the pristine white sand beach of the anchorage. Curious that an airstrip would take priority over a proper road out to the site.

We returned to La Ramada and found that the annual squid mate and die event had arrived. There were at least 100 dead squid (1-2') in the shallow water by the rocky berm. They haven't stunk up the anchorage because they're not up on the beach, and the gulls and rays have had a feast. One night we could even hear what must have been a new batch of squid dying in the shallows of the far corner. As they sucked air they made a racket of gassy sounds which was quite unique and entertaining in spite of the somber finale.

Monday night we watched a bright object move across the sky at a rapid clip before fading into a red dot and disappearing. Tuesday night at about the same time but in a different part of the sky we saw the same, Venus sized object pass by again. Wednesday we put the word out on the net and were informed by another boat that it was the International Space Station. We looked for it again last night at the same time and saw something only half as bright pass overhead west to east. Definitely an event we would have missed had we not been sitting outside enjoying the cool of the evening.

As many of you know I collect shells, and am especially enamored of very small ones. I check them carefully to make sure there's no animal living in them but I've occasionally been surprised by a tickling in my palm when I'm holding shells in a loose fist and a hermit crab decides he wants off this ride. The other day I brought some home in the little container I carry and I forgot to wash them in fresh water until the next morning. I laid them carefully on a galley sponge to dry, and we went for a hike. We walked over to San Juanico and got to watch sting rays munching on dead squid in one foot of water, which was pretty interesting. When we got back to the boat I went down the companionway steps into the galley, squealed, and then burst out laughing as I tried to tell John that one of my shells was walking around on the counter top. John was kind enough to run the little guy back to the shallow part of the beach where I found him.

And now my "homework" is done, and it's finally time for a swim!

Linda and John

Monday, June 11, 2007


While we were in Loreto John was able to post some new pictures to the blog. He added them to their associated text, so you'll have to go back through our most recent entries to see the pics. Unfortunately we didn't have Lisa's pictures of the live argonaut/paper nautilus with us so those will get added to the Paper Nautilus blog entry the next time we have internet access. Stay tuned!



9 June 2007

Yesterday was another slow sailing day with our best average hour being 3.7 kt and our slowest, 1.0 kt. We did a fly-by of the boats anchored at Juncalito and had some of our best sailing in the cove there. The wind got lighter and lighter as we passed the Nopolo resort area but we were still creeping along. John lost track of the time, and even though we finished the run motoring, it was too late to buy a fishing license by the time he got to the office - they must have closed up mid-afternoon.

We came in yesterday so we could get up early and go to the "farmer's market" people had been telling us about all week. Well, it turned out to be more or less the local tiangue, with more produce than usual, especially for its small size. We loaded up on: broccoli (3), cabbage (1), cauliflower (1), green peppers (2), limes (12), cucumber (2), avocados (4), tomatoes (8), jalapenos (4), poblano chiles (2), another type of small, yellow chile (6), carrots (6), onions (6), asparagus (2 bunches), zucchini (6), bananas (6), eggs (2 doz), and goat cheese. In order to make this last until around the end of the month when we might get to Mulege to restock most of it has to go in the fridge. We left out one avocado, the tomatoes, cabbage, onions, bananas, and eggs, and managed to fit everything else in the fridge along with four cans of beer, four liters of water/juice, yogurt, and the salad dressing, margarine, mayo, lunch meat, and cheeses we already had stored there. Our fridge is nine cubic feet. This means that most of the food has to be taken out in order to get at anything not stored right on top of what is essentially a misshapen hole with a lid on it. Coming home from the "grocery store" isn't a simple thing to do when home is a boat!

Cool Nature Stuff: We got to see an osprey dive from it's perch on top of a cactus straight down into the water (just like a tern!) and pop back out with a fish in its talons because we happened to be sitting out in the cockpit before sunset enjoying a beautiful evening. I'm pretty good at spotting osprey, and John picked up the binoculars and commented on how it was sure moving it's head around looking at something, like it was getting ready to fish. But the way it completely disappeared under the surface of the water took us totally by surprise! And during our slow sail to Loreto we were accompanied by a huge school of some small sardine-like fish. They were right at the surface with mouths wide open, making that fish fountain splashing sound whenever parts of the school broke the surface in unison. They kept up with us for a few minutes until we got a bit of breeze and Nakia left them in her wake.

Boat projects: John had been assured by another boater that pouring muriatic acid into the head periodically would clear out the calcified stuff that builds up when urine meets salt water. So one night he was a little overzealous in trying to clean our Lavac head by flushing two liters of industrial strength muriatic acid (complete with skull and crossbones on the bottle) through it. But he lives under a lucky star, and the manual bilge pump (which is black) for this boat is the exact same pump (white) that the head uses, which is where the parts broke (including one side of the housing). He cannibalized parts and now we have two "mixed race" pumps! Also, lately our Garmin 65 GPS has begun turning itself on, usually during the night (beep, beep, beep), and even tried turning itself off once when we were underway. The PWR/STAT button must be sticking somehow but there doesn't appear to be any way to access it for John to take a look. And a quick check of the web found that Garmin doesn't even make this model anymore, so not only can't we get a plain old GPS, but we have to get a chart plotter just to replace it!

Decks and bright work: What? Are you kidding! John's still burned out from all the work last winter, and is taking a much needed hiatus from the big stuff.

Fishing: The sailing has been too slow for any big ones like dorado (not that we've heard of anyone else catching those) and he hasn't been out trolling much lately, so we're eating rice and beans these days - kidding!

Linda and John

Agua Verde and Puerto Escondido

31 May to 7 June 2007

We made our annual stop in Agua Verde for provisions on May 31. We thought we were all set for a nice SE light air sail from San Marcial/San Marte (depending on whether you're using the Williams or Cunningham guide books) but an hour later we were watching a line of white caps building to the north of us. Rather than face tacking into the anchorage in the chop we reluctantly fired up the engine and motored into it for an hour.

The next morning we picked up Jerry, a single hander on the BCC Destarte, for a walk through the village to the tienda. Big changes are afoot in Agua Verde. There are several new cinder block homes being built, and the tienda is now in a similar new building just below Maria's house where the old tienda used to be. According to the woman running the tienda, it's all thanks to government efforts to provide housing which will stand up to the summer rains and hurricanes. The new homes had a layer of Styrofoam insulation under the tin roofs (a luxury the tienda building didn't rate), and are being painted the wonderful bright oranges, greens, and blues typical of houses here. Sadly Maria is no longer able to run the tienda as she must now care full time for her husband, who has taken a serious turn for the worse.

We enjoyed our stay in Agua Verde, with no weather to speak of, but on June 3 we decide to move to Candeleros to catch up with Flying Free before their friends, Rick and Kathy, arrived from the States. We had a lovely spinnaker sail which was interrupted by a VHF call as we passed Candeleros Chico. It was Evan and Flossie on Jambo hailing us! We had missed them in Evaristo because we left the morning after they arrived in the main harbor, unbeknownst to us. Normally Chico is a one boat anchorage, two max, and Jambo had already anchored behind Adios. But they were on their way from Loreto south to La Paz, and we hadn't seen them since our Seattle visit, so we dropped the spinnaker and raised the jib to sail back into Chico for a quick get-together. John dropped the hook in 11' on short scope to stay out of Adios' way and we dinghied over to Jambo. Two hours later, after a great time catching up with Evan and Flossie, we sailed off the anchor and hoisted the spinnaker once we cleared the cove. We weren't able to anchor under sail that day because the wind died just short of the anchorage at Candeleros, but we had a refreshing swim to Que Tal for a chat before the sun disappeared behind the mountains and we had to swim back to Nakia for showers.

With both tiendas in Puerto Escondido closed, we hiked 3-4k out to the Ligui tienda on Hwy 1 for beer and tortillas Monday morning. It's an easy one hour walk, with a Tienda Comunitaria in the tiny village of Ensenada Blanca along the way. The next day we followed Flying Free to Puerto Escondido where they picked up a mooring in the Singlar harbor and we dropped the hook in the Elipse anchorage.

The Puerto Escondido old-timers have, for the most part, been boycotting the Singlar mooring field because the daily rates doubled when the new facility was completed; we saw only a dozen boats on the Singlar moorings when it might have been double or triple that in the past. In the old days the mooring fee was something like .10/ft/day and now it's around .25/ft/day, but the old rate got you nothing but a mooring. Now there's a self-service laundry (33p/wash&dry) with brand new machines; lovely bathrooms and showers; what looks like a comfy lounge area w/fireplace (not quite open yet); a small lap pool and jacuzzi; and dock tie-up for taking on potable water or washing the boat. The new facility is very nice with already much to offer and lots of potential for more, so we doubt that it will stay empty for long. All it needs is wi-fi, a tienda, and a restaurant/bar and it will be packed, because at the monthly rate it's still half the cost of private marinas. For anchoring in the API controlled Elipse (this goes for the Waiting Room too) we paid API a $6 one-time annual fee plus a whopping $1/night (it's $3/night for bigger boats; and that's NOT per foot), and were able to do laundry and take on water at Singlar. The bathroom situation at Singlar was odd in that they were locked after office hours and often even during the day, but we managed to help ourselves to showers one day while we were there. They probably just haven't got the key system worked out yet.

We liked having a foot in both worlds but with Willy's tienda completely gone (he died) and the Tripui tienda/laundry closed up (rumored to have been run out of business by the woman who runs the RV park), we needed to move on to Loreto.

Linda and John