Anchored at San Carlos Bay, we enjoyed the softness of the boat under us as she moved with the water. So different than the hard, unmoving land.Carllie: Though I loved being back on the water, feeling the movement of the boat, feeling the sea breeze, and enjoying the natural drop in temperature that one always gets on the water, I knew it would take awhile to adjust to the motion. Our short motoring trip to nearby San Carlos reminded me that I have to consciously settle my tummy when we are sailing, and do what is necessary to keep it that way. G&C: San Carlos harbor is a very dramatic harbor surrounded by towering dramatically jagged mountains. Even though they are alot of expensive gringo houses on the shores they cannot detract from the timeless beauty of this spot. One can imagine the indigenous Yaqui indians coming out to repel the Spanish invaders.
Happy to be back on the water in our functional galley, though not quite ready to turn on the stove! Anything we wanted to cook was cooked outside on our barbecue gas ring until the air temperature finally cooled.Carllie: I always find it a bit overwhelming when we go to a new city. Even though we had taken the bus to San Carlos from the boatyard in Guaymas several times, we had never anchored in San Carlos Bay, nor tied up our dinghy at the San Carlos Marina, nor found and used the laundry facilities. It turned out, much to our surprise, that San Carlos is not a city, it is more of a “bedroom suburb” of the city of Guaymas. It has no “el centro” (downtown) and no big grocery stores. San Carlos folks (consisting largely of Americans who have moderately expensive to palatial houses here) drive to Guaymas to shop at Ley’s, Sorianas, and the fabulous Mercado Municipal (outdoor market) on Wednesday mornings. Bahia San Carlos is very picturesque, big enough for probably a hundred boats on moorings and at anchor, surrounded by dramatic high, jagged toothed mountains. The lower flanks of the southern hills and northern hills are lined with lovely homes. The style is that very inviting Mexican cool look: mostly white painted with thick concrete walls, often colored roofs, and something picturesque on the roof disguising the water cisterns on top of each home. We heard that Steven King (he who writes books to frighten and horrify people) owns one of the more palatial homes high on the southern bluffs. At this time of year, there are not that many Norte Americanos around, though, as it is still very hot and humid, and after all one cannot live all day in one’s air conditioned home. The sun is still of burning intensity, so San Carlos was pretty quiet for our stay, much to our liking. Before we left the boatyard in Guaymas, our friend Ron Pryde kindly drove us around in his Volkswagen van to stock up on food, bottled water, propane and gas. However, after only a few days and nights at San Carlos, knowing we would soon be leaving populated areas for our sojourn north along the coast north to Kino, then through the Midriff Islands to the Baja side and up to Bahia Los Angeles, I knew we would need a good stock of fresh produce. So I was happy to bus back to Guaymas with Garett when he figured it was necessary for mechanical reasons. Tuesday October 2, 2007 Garett: We took the bus back Guaymas to see if we could track down the shifting cable we need for our 9.9 Yamaha outboard engine, and found one as well as the end connector which had fallen into the water along with the corroded end that broke off. Bahia San Carlos is very picturesque, surrounded with timeless jagged-peaked mountains, with the lower flanks, hills and northern shore lined with beautiful Mexican-style homes.
Trying to keep cool with broad-brimmed hat and partially unzipped dress on the way to San Carlos Marina.
This was almost our last bus ride on a Guaymas bus, traveling from San Carlos to Guaymas. We love those bus rides–bumping along as the driver puts pedal literally to the metal, all the windows open so the hot air could blow in at us cooling us in the process. The sun is so intense that you always have to think, “Now what side will the sun be on for most of the trip?” and sit on the other side.
Garett: We noticed how hot it was back in the city versus being on the water. With the water at 82 degrees F, the air temperature never really strays too far from it.Wednesday October 3, 2007 Carllie: While on the hard, we had learned that our fellow Canadian friends Peter and Marni Siddons, who hail from West Vancouver, were at the marina in San Carlos, so it was with much anticipation that we looked for and found their Beneteau 42, 2 Pieces of Eight. However, even though the boat had been left open, much ahoy-ing and knocking from our dinghy yielded no humans both times we stopped, though the second time I got up on the dock and investigated their cockpit. I found their Siamese cat, Latte, sprawled on one cockpit seat trying to keep cool in the oppressive heat. Who knows where fat cat Tigger was at that point (Tigger you may recall from our October 2006 visit to Oxnard California, is a very very fat Manx cat who now weighs about 26 pounds). Eventually, we did find Peter and Marni at home, and gave them a quick update on the major modifications we had made on Light Wave. In true Marni-enthusiastic-style, they were keen to visit and see our mods, so we invited them out that afternoon at 5 p.m.
Bahia San Carlos at dawn.
Another cat anchored in the bay at San Carlos. Catamarans at really the best way to go. Though I love visiting friends, it is very hard for me to visit them on their monohulls if they are at anchor, as the constant rolling, even in a very calm sea, is just too unsettling to the tummy. I am so accustomed to the blissful stability of a catamaran at anchor, which is the state you are in probably 90% of the time when you are cruising, even after long offshore passages, that it would be impossible for me to even consider switching back to a monohull.
Entertaining Marni and Peter on a cool, clear early evening at Bahia San Carlos.Peter and Marni loved our modifications, and we had a nice long visit. They told us all about the summer-long stay in the very hot northern Sea of Cortez, and detailed their favorite anchorages in and around our destination, Bahia Los Angeles, and all the beautiful places they had stopped across the northern Sea and south along the coast to get to San Carlos. We made notes in our cruising guides, and at the time of writing have visited many of those spots. (More on those in order of events.) Thursday October 4, 2007 Garett: I did another brief trip into Guaymas for some more last minute supplies and food items. I even found my lost diving sock a mile away on the rocky beach where the wind had blown it the previous day. Tomorrow we are off north.
Friday October 5, 2007
Our route covered in this update from San Carlos to Bahia Los Angeles.
Quietly motoring out of Bahia San Carlos in the early morning light.Carllie: Eagerly anticipating sailing to new and unpopulated anchorages where we could swim in clear water, snorkel, free dive, spearfish, and beachcomb, it was still with some sadness that we left Bahia San Carlos. We know we will not be seeing Peter and Marni again for a couple of years at least, as they are soon heading south to La Paz and then back across the Sea to Mazatlan, planning to reach Zihuatanejo during the season. We know we will not be returning Guaymas, a little city that has won our hearts, for many years. San Carlos, though not as warm, Mexican, nor inviting as Guaymas, is nevertheless a very pretty spot that we have enjoyed. Who knows when or how we will visit these shores again? These are the challenges of voyaging: leaving friends and places one has woven into one’s heart and soul. Garett: We woke up early and left beautiful San Carlos at 7 am and headed north, The coastline here is very dramatic with volcanic rock covered with splashes of green from the rapid growth after all the summer rains. Many long time residents told us that this was the greenest they have ever seen the Sea of Cortez. Our objective for the next week was to slowly cover the 80 miles north up to Tiburon Island and savor the unique spots along this section of coast.
The captain and boatbuilder gauges how the boat feels after our very significant modifications.Carllie: It was unimaginably satisfying to be under way again. To know that our boat work was done, and all that lies ahead of us is enjoying exploring this beautiful, ancient sea that we have now become accustomed to. No longer do I yearn for the deep green of the hills and mountains surrounding our home waters in British Columbia. There is a peace and depth of serenity in this Sea and in the unpopulated shores and islands we have yet to explore.
Last view of the “Goat’s Nipple” peak leaving San Carlos
. The rainy season and Hurricane Henriette that washed these shores during the 2007 summer months have fed dry but tough roots of bushes, trees and even cacti, which have burgeoned forth in new growth that swaddles the dry rosy hills like cool silk garments.
Garett: It only took us four hours to cover the sixteen miles to Bahia San Pedro, one of the spots recommended by Peter and Marni. We anchored just in time as the midday winds had started their usual pattern from the northwest, tucked into the far northern corner to protect us form the swells that were wrapping around the corner. The water was not super clear, maybe about 15 feet visibility, and so I dove down on our anchor which we had put down in 20 feet depth. When we were in Phoenix three weeks ago I had bought some new “split fin” snorkel fins that the knowledgeable owner had recommended. What a difference! These look similar to regular fins except they are cut right down the center. When you first look at them you think they could not possibly work, but I was able to actually dive down to the anchor without any weights on. This is was impossible with my old fashioned ones. Ahh! The progress of technology developed by divers’ with know-how to meet their needs…When I did dive down to the anchor I saw that it was sitting on a pile of rocks and not set as it should be, buried into sand, so I went back to the boat and we hauled it up, moved back another 50 feet and re-set. All was now fine.
South entrance to San Pedro Bay.
Last glimmers of the the sun on the mountains to the east.Attack of the Beetles We enjoyed a nice peaceful afternoon in the balmy 85 F air temperature. It was quite dry so it was just about as perfect a temperature as you could want. Carllie cooked up dinner and just as we were about to sit down this big, 1/2 inch in diameter circular flying beetle bug flew into the cabin which created quite a ruckus, as Carllie was sure it was a cockroach. I quickly got rid of it when another one flew in. The attack of the bugs had begun! We quickly closed the door and screens and tried to relax during dinner. For the next hour we could hear all of these beetles hitting the center cabin like a mini hail storm. Many stunned themselves and we found them dead when we ventured outside. After dinner we shined the light out through the window and there about 50 of these bugs in the cockpit and around the boat. I went outside to get rid of the carcasses but then others kept hitting me. Eventually after a couple of hours it quietened down. We found out the next day from another boater in the bay who lives up in Tucson that these critters were actually June Bugs. It was an unnerving night. (C: He also told us that in Tucson when the June Bugs do their night-time strafing, the tarantulas come out to clean them up. Nice. Glad we don’t live in Tucson.) That night, the temperature actually dipped down to 78 F which is the coldest it has been since we got here. Carllie actually got out her Polartec blanket. Until now, we have been sleeping sans clothes, then in very light night attire, then only with under a cotton sheet. Guess our blood has gotten thinner. Who says Canadians are accustomed to snow and living in igloos? Saturday October 6, 2007 When we first woke up and looked at the channel outside it looked a little windy and rough so we thought we might have to stay another day at San Pedro, but by 9 am it seemed to calm down so we decided to head north the next 15 miles to Ensenada Julio Villa, a place which we were told was very interesting.
Approaching Ensenada Julio Villa just in time, before night falls.
We motored into about 10 knots of wind but as we approached Julio Villa the winds were more like 15 knots maybe even 20 from dead ahead. It was a great test of Light Wave’s ability with longer hulls to motor upwind. She now seems to make way, either motoring or sailing, with far less hobby horsing and keeps her speed up; as well there is virtually no bridgedeck slamming.
View into Ensenada Julio Villa.
We just managed to sneak into this very small 1 or 2 boat cove before the wind really started to howl from the northwest at 25 knots. As the bay faces southeast we were totally protected all snuggled up inside. There was a couple of Mexican families camping on shore and it looked like an American couple further along the beach. The road to get here is a very rough dirt road of about 60 miles from the highway in Kino.The bay is named after Julio Villa who was in a honor (possible candidate for a Darwin Award) of a local fisherman who used to fish by throwing sticks of dynamite into the water as a fishing method. Well the story goes he had all these extra sticks of dynamite attached to his waist belt when one of them ( I guess then all of them) accidentally exploded. This is a true story. Carllie: Later we learned that many years ago there was a cross near the beach with Julio’s name, though there is no evidence of it now. (Actually, when we went hiking we found a whole bunch of little crosses inscribed “J.V.”, and can only assume these are where Julio’s body parts are buried. heh heh heh.) Garett: After settling down for the day with the dinghy put together and the anchor firmly set I got around to installing the new shifting cable so we can run the engine in reverse and Carllie reorganized our dark tunnel of clothing/books/and stuff which makes up the aft section of our starboard head hull.
We loved Ensenada Julio Villa and we stayed three nights.
I swam off the boat at Ensenada Julio Villa, while Garett snorkeled and spearfished.Carllie: When we first got to Ensenada Julio Villa, there was an extended family of Mexicans camping ashore, and it was very pleasant to watch their campfires and hear their cheery but quite subdued Mexican music that night and to awake the next morning to the sound of little children playing. There was also another couple camped further down the beach, whom we later found to be an older couple, Ernie and Vicky, from Tucson, who have been coming here every year to camp for 25 years.
Mexican children having fun at Julio Villa.
Camp of extended Mexican family.It seems like winter Garett: We had a great dinner but the temperature kept dropping to 72 F. It felt like winter! We had to put long sleeved shirts on and will use blankets while sleeping. It is such a relief after the heat and humidity of a mere 10 days ago in the boatyard. The wind is howling a bit right now but we do have the light on the shore from the fire from the Mexican campers to keep us company as there is no moon and it is really dark here as there is no city background lights. Sunday October 7, 2007 Today, we snorkeled around the bay, getting our snorkeling and free-diving skills back while we watched the fish and sting rays flitting along the bottom. Later, we dinghied to shore for a good long walk along the very rough road the leads to the beach.
Enjoying another peaceful dawn at Ensenada Julio Villa.
Garett getting ready to test the water at Julio Villa.
Journal writing: lots of food for thought in such a peaceful place.
Getting ready for a walk at Julio Villa.
Light Wave sitting pretty at Ensenada Julio Villa.
Finding stuff on the beach. Who can resist?
We found this huge horde of Pink Murex shells, which are very beautiful shells about the size of the palm of a man’s hand that you can buy in shell shops, and I scooped a few. Later we found out that sadly fishermen must have caught these in their nets, and just left them here to die and be eaten, many years ago as they are now clean.
Garett getting ready for a big walk.
Testing the cacti on the road leading to Julio Villa. Yup! Pretty sharp.
Cacti grow pretty big here.
Man’s earliest telephone: Haloo? Haloo? Anyone there?
Setting sun casts a rosy tint on the beautiful hills surrounding Ensenada Julio Villa.Monday October 8, 2007 A day with a Carburetor Garett: Ernie, the camper who we met on shore last afternoon, was out in his dinghy with a small out board engine. It seemed to start and then stop and then finally stopped about 100 yards form shore. He managed to row in and so I went in to see if there was something I could do. We tried putting in some carb cleaner and then we tried some fuel conditioner. We seemed to get going for about 4 minutes and then it died again. We then got more drastic and took the carburetor off to try to clean it out. We actually put it on and off 6 more times. We were getting so good at it we got down to under 2 minutes. Finally on the 7th time it started! We were overjoyed!. We then discovered that the fuel hose was not connected! How could that be? When we connected the fuel hose it stopped! We were now totally confused and finally came to the conclusion that there were mysterious forces at work here and decided to call it a day at 3 pm and have some chocolate cake that Carllie had baked. Carllie: I noticed Vicky sitting in the sand sifting through shells for hours yesterday, and then again the next morning, so practising my crawl and using my new swimming goggles, I swam in to see her and find out exactly what she was doing. She showed me the very tiny beautiful little shells she collects and uses to decorate cards she makes at home with inspirational quotations. I thought this was a great idea, and sat with her and her little dog Majita, for an hour sifting sand and finding amazing tiny treasures, then leaving my little treasure trove with Garett in the dinghy, swam back to Light Wave for a nice fresh water shampoo and shower. Since our stay at Kalaway Bay Resort this summer, where I swam four or five times a day, my crawl has been improving. Now that I have goggles, with my contact lenses I can open my eyes under the water and see where I am going, making the whole experience much more enjoyable (not to mention allowing me to swim in a straight line!), so I am hoping to continue to strengthen my crawl and maybe when we return home to Vancouver sign up for an aquatic centre where I can go swimming in the mornings.
The day’s haul in shells: big, medium and tiny.The things of beauty one finds on these beaches are irresistible, and it is good to now have some tentative plans about what I can do with them. It is mind-boggling what Nature creates, the intricate and colorful beauty of the shells that were once inhabited by living creatures deep in the sea. Even the spines left behind by dead sea urchins have their own beauty, as to tiny bits of sunbleached coral and tiny vertebrae of different types of fish.
Carllie hiking behind Ensenada Julio Villa in her “blue-footed boobie” shoes.
Sifting for tiny shells at Julio Villa.
Light Wave is so much prettier with her longer hull length, don’t you think?
Vicky, Ernie and dogs visiting with us at their camp.
Carllie: This perky little preying mantis visited us one night when we were plagued by a lot of tiny flying mosquito-like insects that swarmed around our lights if they got in. When I picked him up, he eyed me calmly with his protruding”bug eyes” and let me move him outside, where I hope he ate his fill of the tiny flying pests.Tuesday October 9, 2007 Garett: We decided it was time to move on and headed off to Kino about 50 miles north. We left at 8 am which was going to make it tight to get there by nightfall at 6 pm. However, I was confident that we could safely enter the open bay with radar.
Bye bye, Julio Villa! (Notice our bright new Canadian flag? Our last one was very faded by the time we got to Guaymas last April!)
Last view of the picturesque and colorful hills surrounding Julio Villa as we left for Kino.
Suddenly, as we traveled north, the terrain flattened out.When 10 miles north of Ensenada Julio Villa there was almost like a line drawn on the mountains as they went from green to grey. It was obviously the edge of where the rain fell from hurricane Henriette back in September. A further 10 miles up the coast the beautiful mountains abruptly stopped and then it was just this flat berm beach. It was quite a dramatic change.
Sailing to Kino. Red sails in the sunset?
Approaching Punta Kino.
Hundreds of pelicans roosting on the reef extending from Isla Pelicano.
Last view in daylight of the hills of Kino but still 10 miles outSure enough we were making slower progress because of the current against us and for the last two hours we were in the dark with just the radar and the background lights of the town on the shore of Bahia Kino. The recommended anchoring spot is behind Isla Pelicano which is a small half mile long island not marked by navigational lights of course. With no people and is about 500 feet high as it is only for the pelicans and sea gulls its name applies. (Peeeuuuw! What a smell when the wind shifted!) It was a little spooky as we approached this black ominous blob of Isla Pelicano even though the radar was all the time confirming the distance away. Finally when we were about 1/8 mile off in 20 feet of water we let the anchor down eventhough we weren’t totally protected from the small waves but at least we were settled down and reasonable safe for the night. Wednesday October 10, 1007 When we woke in the morning we were surrounded by shrimp boats who we could see fishing on our radar last night as we approached Kino.
Showering on our nice new roomy aft platforms is great.
The fragrant Isla Pelicano, where we had anchored in pitch black with the aid of radar the night before.
Shrimp boats snuggle up to each other off Kino and Isla Pelicano. Guess they don’t worry about scratching hulls!Garett: We motored about 2 miles to the beach at new Kino which is an exclusive gringo recreational home spot for people form Phoenix and Tuscon. We had a little scary moment when I came inside to check some charts and kind of got too involved in what I was doing. Carllie had been reading inside, so there was no one on watch and suddenly we here this yelling and Carllie looks up and sees two guys in a panga right in front of our bows–like in our nets. After some pretty excited words from Carllie, I leapt back into the cockpit, pushed 10 degrees right on the Autohelm, and the pescadaros were suddenly behind us, smiling as they had heard my wife berating me no doubt. (“Why didn’t you tell me you were coming in? We are in a busy channel! I would have watched!!!!” etc., etc.) It is true: we were only about a mile from the Kino shoreline, and there were fishing boats all around us. We were lucky that that one moment of inattention did not end badly, and hope we have both learned a lesson. Carllie: We anchored off New Kino and Garett went ashore to buy some food and ice. There were lots of pretty homes right up at the shore, but behind them it was just tiny little Mexican homes and a dirt road. Luckily, Garett did find a good source of fresh produce and really stocked up on fruit and vegetables, plus ice, thus giving us some leeway to take our time crossing the Midriff Islands to the Baja side.
View of pretty American homes lining New Kino shore, while Garett motors to shore to get produce and ice.
Fully stocked up we motored 15 miles across to Tiburon Island and “Dog Bay”, actually called Bahia Perro (doesn’t that sound far nicer?)
Blue blue water invites us.
The sky turns magical colors as the sun sets at Bahia Perro.I wanted to stay for more than one night at Bahia Perro, but Garett was keen to carry on so we only spent one night here. Thursday October 11, 2007 Even though Dog Bay was nice, there were alot of bees so we decided to continue to make our way across the Midriff Islands that span the width of the Sea of Cortez about two thirds of the way up. These islands allow you to go across the Sea in a couple of easy day trips. It is still 70 miles across and these islands obstruct the flow of the tides and so all of sudden current becomes a factor. You start seeing whirlpools and tide rips which we haven’t seen we were in the San Juan Islands and BC last summer.
Pulling up the anchor at Bahia Perro (Dog Bay).
Beautiful colors as we leave Bahia Perro.
Continuing to make our way west to the Midriff Islands, the land became increasingly more arid. Obviously the summer rains and deluge from the hurricane had not reached this far north into the Sea.
We spied this Loon at ????
Sailing past Isla Tiburon.We motored around the south end of Isla Tiburon, made our way through Cactus Passage and then started heading northwest up the channels. A Real Flying Fish For some reason I had always thought of flying fish as jumping fish. We are always saying “Look! There is a flying fish!” We were confused; what we should have been saying is “There is a *jumping* fish” because today I actually saw my first flying fish. As we were motoring in the perfectly calm seas, I saw this little beautiful 8 inch brilliantly dark blue fish “jump” out of the water only about 10 feet off our starboard bow coming back towards me in the back of the cockpit. I expected him to make his gravity driven plunge back into the water but no, with his four sets of wing fins sticking out from each corner of his slender body, he just kept on flying and flying, and flying… and flying!. He went about 40 yards in the air about six inches above the water. It was one of the most amazing things I have seen on the entire trip. Now I know what a real “flying fish” is. I will never confuse it with the garden variety of jumping fish. All I could say “Wow!” By 10 am the wind came up at about 10 knots so we were able to tack back and forth across the channel and with the help of the 2 knots of current were able to make progress across.
Garett adjusting the sails. Sure is nice to be able to sail in our swimsuits.
By 4 pm we were approaching Isla Animas went through a narrow channel and then came to Isla Salsipuedes (Sal-see-poo-AY-days) which means “Leave if you can” and anchored in the barren cove on the south end of the island.
Approaching Isla Animas and the channel to Isla Salsipuedes.
Approaching the southern anchorage on Isla SalsipuedesWe put the dinghy together and went ashore on to this very barren and dry island. It was quite obvious that this island like all the area that started just south of Kino has not had any rain this year as the hurricanes have bypassed the whole area. There was virtually no cactis and no plants. The one advantage is that you can walk any where you want so we went for a little hike of a mile to the far side of the island. It was very unusual landscape, almost moon-like.
Garett at Isla Salsipuedes.Carllie: This anchorage and island was probably the least inviting of any we have visited in the Sea of Cortez, though John Cunningham says in his excellent CD cruising guide to the Sea that it is his favorite island! Firstly, there was no beach per se–just rocks. There was nothing green that we could see on the steep scree-covered hills that we climbed. It just had no appeal. However, we were there for the night and because the water was undoubtedly crystal clear, we looked forward to snorkeling over the rocks and reefs surrounding the small bay the next day. We did enjoy stretching our legs on the “moon walk” up and around those desolate hills, and appreciated the views, but quickly returned to our cozy nest aboard Light Wave to make dinner and watch another couple of episodes of “24”–always good for escapism even though one has to enter a world of enforced unreality to shut out the propaganda that conflicts so sharply with reality (the good ol’ U.S.A. and its intrepid, upright, patriotic and self-sacrificing agents of C.T.U. (Counter-Terrorist Unit) that never do any wrong, righting all the wrongs of the world…).
Light Wave anchored at the desolate Isla Salsipuedes.
Walking and hiking the very rocky, moonlike Isla Salsipuedes.
A late afternoon hike on the moon-like hills of Salsipuedes. I was glad I had bought a new pair of excellent New Balance running shoes before we left home. Great support for these scree-covered trails and climbs.We were pretty sure this would be a one-night stay, but we tried to keep open minds.
The fast-falling night creeps up on the bay next to us at Salsipuedes.I was glad that in our shopping frenzied last days in Vancouver, getting some of the things we knew we could not get in Mexico, I insisted on buying a new pair of good running shoes. My expensive, perfectly fit after an hour and a half in the store, New Balance shoes fit my narrow feet very well and provide excellent support for these hikes in unfamiliar terrain. I hope to get back to running soon, but injured the ligaments in my left knee when I stretched too vigorously back in Guaymas before a run, and I am now paying the price in a little joint popping, weakness and tenderness in that knee. I know it will heal, given gentle exercise in swimming and snorkeling, daily light stretching of the upper thigh muscles and easy walks and hikes on shore. We closed the day with a refreshing swim as the sun set. Every time we get back to the boat after a short or long hike, we are sweaty, and these swims followed by a short fresh-water shower from a refilled 1-litre water bottle are the perfect treatment. Sometimes, after spending a few hours reading in a warm cabin, just as sun sets I like to jump in the water and swim around the boat to refresh me for the night. Friday October 12, 2007 We woke up at 6 am to the rocking of the boat as the wind had started from the west at maybe 10 knots–not very much, but over the 10 mile fetch from the Baja peninsula across Canal Des Salispuedes there was a little bit of wave action wrapping into our little bay and we had swung around the anchor and were now only about 75 feet from the 50 foot high rock cliff. We decided that we would definitely not stay another night. We puttered around to get ready but first we thought it would be good to try the snorkeling as the water was quite clear and we could see the bottom in 25 feet of water, so we finned over to the rocks that were piled up at the bottom of the cliff as this is usually a spot where there are fish.
Morning sheds a different light on Salsipuedes: what was dreary and dull the night before was now vividly outlined by the turquoise blue clear water, and seemed pretty at least.
My enthusiastic snorkeling, free diving, spearfishing provider getting ready to hunt.
Garett with his second catch at the surprisingly prolific bay at Isla Salsipuedes.Carllie: I enjoy snorkeling and free-diving in these warm waters (79 to 80 degrees F.), though we both wear lycra suits and gloves to protect us from scrapes we might get as we swim over reefs and rocks. It is so peaceful to put your head in the water, breathe through your snorkel, and paddle around gazing at the fish swimming and carrying on their fish-lives in sublime oblivion right under you. No sound except that of your own breathing. When you want to dive, as Garett has said, you take four to six deep breaths, focusing on pushing every last bit of air (carbon dioxide) out of your lungs and the tube with each exhalation. Then pinch your nose and blow out to equalize the pressure, bent at the waist, sticking one leg straight up and one leg perpendicular to it, dive, again equalizing the ear pressure as you dive. At the bottom, or as you near it, you puff out a bit of air through your nose to keep the face mask from pressing too hard, then you hang onto a rock, let your body sink, relax and just watch the show. Bit by bit the little fish peep out at your from behind the rocks where they have hidden, swimming right up to your mask for a look if you stay long enough. I find myself talking to them: “Hi there! Aren’t you pretty?”
Garett snorkeling and spearfishing.Garett enjoys watching the fish as well, but these days he is more into his hunter-provider mode drawing on an ancient gene pool I am sure, and focuses on finding big unsuspecting fish he can spear and bring home for dinner. I have gotten used to this killer instinct, though I always feel for the fish who sometimes are not quite dead when Garett throws his trophies down at my feet like a cat producing a mouse. Garett: I jumped in first after donning my lycra suit and weight belt and swam over to the rocks. The water was the clearest I had seen so far and there were alot of big fish of several types I had not seen before so I went back to Light Wave and Carllie handed me my spear gun. With my hunting weapon in hand I made my way back to the rock piles. I am still very much a novice spear fisherman and there is a lot to learn as I would soon find out. The technique which seems to have the most merit is the “Sink and Wait” which is where you look for a convenient rock about 10 to 15 feet down. After taking 6 big and fast deep breaths to purge your system of CO2 you dive down to the rock and grab hold of it as you are still positively buoyant even with the weight belt. You then wait, blend into the scenery, and let the fish come to you. This method is far superior to the “chase after the fish” method which I tried many times with extremely limited results in my previous attempts early in the spring, as the fish are much faster than I will ever be in the water and they just swim away if you try to follow them. They know a predator when they see one! The challenge of the Sink and Wait method is that you have to be able to hold your breath long enough, and the key to holding your breath is to stay totally relaxed as any tension physically or mental anxiety creates alot of CO2 which then triggers the urge to need breath. Easier said then done. My experienced spearfishing friends tell me you have to be able to stay down 60 seconds to get the good fish. I can only stay about 30 and it seems like a very long time. I will keep working at. The whole area had the most bigger fish I had ever seen. I did manage to get two medium size fish in about 45 minutes. Carllie: Taking our time, with the whole day ahead of us and our ultimate objective Animas Slot, only 18 miles away, we headed for Isla Partida when we left Salsipuedes, to gunkhole for the afternoon. Again, this island was less than welcoming, with an even rockier beach than the one at Salsipuedes, but we did enjoy another short snorkel..
Dolphins in Salsipuedes Channel en route to Animas Slot.After our leisurely start, we made it to Animas Slot just before dark. It seemed a lovely protected anchorage, even more appealing because we spied a large group of kayakers on shore setting up camp for the night. It is really not that big an anchorage, however, and the entrance is narrowed by treacherous reefs lying just under the surface of the rocky bluffs to the east and west. If the wind shifted unexpectedly from the northwest, we could be pinned with big waves rolling straight in from the long channel we had traveled to get here. However, all went well for our one night anchored here. In the middle of the night, likely early morning, it got pretty rolly and we later realized that the rocky isthmus to the west was covered at high tide and the waves from the northwest rolled right into the anchorage, while the current kept us facing north towards the entrance. So it was pretty uncomfortable, though certainly not as bad as it would have been in a monohull Garett: In the middle of the night the wind came up from the northwest and at two o’clock the spit that provided much of the protection to the bay was covered by the very high tide and so now the swells to come right into the anchorage. With the Tidetool program on our Palm, I calculated the spit would be uncovered until 4 a.m. so I decided to stay on anchor watch until then. There really was not much we could do about it as we could not leave to go any where else. Nothing really exciting, but when it is the middle of the night with no moon, and very dark with waves rolling in it is a little unnerving. Carllie: Eventually the rolling woke me up and when I called Garett in his berth in our “bedroom hull” there was no answer, so I went upstairs and found him ensconced in the cuddy cabin, uncovered in the cool breeze. So I did my wifely thing and brought him up his pillow and Polartec blanket and tucked him in, then went back to my cozy bed. We trust our 35 lb Delta anchor. Just like we trust a thin aluminum shell carrying us 40,000 feet above the earth at 400 mph when we fly because our intellectual mind understands the principles of aerodynamics, we understand the principle of anchoring: how big an anchor we need for our boat, how much rode we need to put out for the depth we are in, etc., and we have confidence that all will be well. Nevertheless, Garett’s anchor watch was a good idea. Saturday October 13, 2007 Garett&Carllie: With the dawn of the a new sunny day and also because the winds had eased off, everything seemed more promising. When we listened to the morning weather net on the short wave we concluded that evidently these winds were a local phenomena and not the result of pressure gradients measured by isobars available on various weather nets to our weather guru, Don Anderson on Summer Passage broadcasting from Oxnard, California.
The beautiful beckoning beach and the picturesque setting at Animas Slot made up for an unsettling night of waves rolling into the anchorage over an isthmus covered at high tide.Garett: We aren’t quite sure what we will do today but if we can we will move to a more protected place a little further north in to Bahia ANimas btu first we will go and say hello to the kayakers ashore.
Light Wave in beautiful clear water at picturesque Animas Slot To the left of the island you can see the sand spit which is now exposed and providing protection from the north. Unfortunately at high tide at 2 am last night the waves were coming right over it.
Carllie: We were keen to get to shore–Garett to talk to the kayakers (what else?) and me to do some more peaceful shelling.
Dinghy pulled up and up the hill on the beach Carllie doing her thing sifting sand for treasures.
Young people doing NOLS (National Outdoor Leadership Seminars) kayaking segment.Garett: While Carllie did some shell collecting I went over to the the kayaking group. I spoke to one of the group leaders, Amanda. Three group leaders take twenty 18 to 24 year olds for a 35-day ocean kayaking segment which is part of the NOLS (National Outdoor Leadership Skills) program, a worldwide program. They live as a group for each 35-day sessions in a remote. During the trip each of the participants is the acting leader and has to plan, coordinate, and lead one day of the expedition. It must be very challenging to lead such a diverse group of people. A very interesting education alternative.
Amanda, one of the leaders of the NOLS group. This is her seventh straight session of 35 days eachCarllie: I had a glorious time in my big sun hat and big white cotton shirt to protect me from too much sun, sitting on a foam mat and sifting the sand for tiny priceless offerings from the sea. So peaceful and soothing. I hope I will always remember these times. While I was running the fine sand and tiny treasures through my fingers, I was watching the group of young people in their wet suits snorkel around the bay, all the while getting more and more curious about what they were seeing.
View from my shelling spot at Animas Slot.After about an hour, Garett came back from his socializing and we decided we would return to LW, and go for a quick snorkeling investigation of the bay.
Ready to snorkel and hunt in Animas Slot!We enjoyed swimming over the rocks surrounding the bay and finning over the sand looking for small sting rays and manta rays, and also for some sole for Garett to shoot. After about an hour of this pleasant activity, but no luck for our hunter gatherer, we returned to the boat for lunch then anchor-up. These days I am using up tortillas for lunch, warming up cans of refried beans, using the wonderful and inimitable Herdez salsa sauce to which I usually had one chopped tomato, grating some carrots with mayonnaise, and using a bit of processed cheese so we can make our own wraps. Lunch is pretty simple, but pretty yummy too.
Carllie with one of her delicious tortilla wrap lunches laid out in our cockpit. Ahh! This is the life!Garett: We left Animas Slot at 3 pm and motored over the bay behind Punta Alacran, Scorpion Bay, only 7 miles away. As I observed the grand vistas around us with no virtually no sign of human intervention (no towns, no navigation lights, no clear cuts) we realized it these vistas were relatively timeless as they have not changed in thousands of years with the exception of the ice age which caused the ocean levels to change.
Bye bye Animas Slot! Maybe we will see you again when we start back south in December.
A view to the north to Isla Coronado which we will come to next week. It is an extinct volcano as can be seen by its shape.We arrived at Bahia Alacran and anchored 300 yards off the beach which has eight Yurts in varying sizes. These are octagon tent cabins, and are spread out about 100 yards apart and up a rise. We think these Yurts were originally created and used in the Mongolia or Afghanistan, but are not quite sure. We think they are part of a very rustic outdoor activity (kayaking/fishing) retreat. The amazing thing is that after we anchored in this remote place with just a barest touch of civilization while I was having a nap, Carllie turned on the computer, tried the wireless connection and squealed with delight when she found ultra high speed internet access directly from the boat. Carllie: Our friend Marni Siddons had us in stitches when they were telling us about different anchorages back at San Carlos. She called this place “Yurt Beach.”
“Yurt Beach” at Bahia Alacran (Scorpion Bay) where we were delighted to find high speed internet connection.Garett: We were so excited that we would be able to listen in on a teleconference call with our friends back home at 8 p.m. When 8 o’clock came we were on line and ready when all of a sudden at 8 on the button the internet went down. We realized they turned off their generator! I guess it is back to the primitive Sea of Cortez… We hope tomorrow the internet will come back on and we will be able to upload our website update and pictures.
View of spectacular majestic mountains from Bahia Alacran.Carllie: While Garett napped and before I turned on the computer I spent about an hour patiently cleaning my collection of tiny shells from Animas Bay. Another peaceful, soothing activity. Hmmm. What can I do with these little trivia shells? or these whelks? the cones, cowries, murexes, wentletraps and augers? All kinds of creative ideas poured into my mind. Suddenly, while I was patiently washing the sand out of tiny gifts from the sea and pondering what to do with them, I heard out on the water, “Spoof!” (pause) “Spoof!” (pause) “Spoof!” Stepping out into our shaded cockpit, I looked around and, much to my delight, saw several dolphins swimming and spouting around this lovely bay. They were fishing for their evening meal, and though I called to them, “Hi there! Come on over for a visit!” they remained intent on their well-honed skills. Soon, I saw a whole school of medium-sized fish leap out of the water together,and knew that the dolphins were herding them, and using their sonic blasts to frighten them into a boiling mass that the dolphins would plough through to eat. Garett snored through the excitement. Sunday October 14, 2007 Carllie: After spending a night in a tenuous anchorage and visiting a few less than pretty ones, it was a pleasure to be tucked into this lovely big bay where we were protected on three sides. Last night, we had seen lights in the yurts. Checking them out with our binoculars a big palapa covered deck outside the biggest one, and concluded this must be the eating and gathering area for the guests. Today, we waved at two guests, apparently a married couple, being taken out to scuba dive at some reefs on the SW side of the bay in the resort’s panga. The lady was very friendly, and we saw them and chatted with her a few times over this and the next day. Guess hubby was still suffering from city tensions, as we later learned they were from New Hampshire, and were here for a totally relaxing holiday.
On our way to a little beach we spied as we entered Bahia Alacran.After our morning exercises, a little personal planning time, and a quick breakfast, we piled into our trusty little PortaBote dinghy and with great anticipation headed out to explore. It was a lovely, clear day; the sea was clear turquoise blue, the sky another shade of blue (that my artist friend Karmel could identify), and the white sand on all of the stretches of beaches in different sections of the shore forming a half circle around us called to us.
We stopped at this perfect, private little beach at the entrance to Bahia Alacran, and made plans to visit for a thorough exploration.Heading east to the northern side of the entrance to Bahia Alacran, we landed at this tiny beach. It has lovely fine white sand, and because of its configuration in the prevailing winds and position of the surrounding bluffs, rocks and reefs, captures millions of tiny perfect reminisces from the sea. I came prepared with my little Ziploc bag and big hat, and immediately plopped myself down in a likely spot and began running my fingers through the tiny perfections, sure to be totally absorbed, while Garett walked and climbed around the beach and rocks, and made plans. He gave me half an hour of bliss, then returned with the suggestion that we would come back the next day to snorkel, spearfish and shell. Okay by me!
Bonanza! The perfect shelling beach and snorkeling bay.On our way out we motored by and called hello to the New Hampshire couple from the resort, who were trying out a neat little Hobie Brave beach cat, sailing it back and forth in the bay. They were novice sailors and frequently got in irons, but they enjoyed themselves for hours. We are thinking this would be a perfect little cat for Kalaway Bay Resort, and wonder how and when we can get our hands on one for that happy purpose.
Light Wave waits patiently for her caregivers, in the beautiful setting of Bahia Alacran.The bay is very large, probably about a mile across, and we were happy to have our motorized dinghy to run around and view, thinking back to the times when we had only rowing power with our little nesting dinghy. How did we ever manage when we circumnavigated Vancouver Island? We “zoomed” around as much as a 3.3 hp 2-stroke Mercury engine will allow, surfing in at the beach in front of the main palapa/yurt of the resort. We met Scott and his wife Donna who manage this resort, called the Las Animas Wilderness Retreat, seven months of the year. A guard watches over it during the excrutiating hot summer months when hurricanes threaten and no sane person would want to be here. The main gathering and eating space on the palapa covered deck was very very enticing, cool, and of course offers this wonderful view of the bay with a very pretty yellow cat at anchor.
The gathering, eating deck at Las Animas Wilderness Retreat.The yurts range in sizes of 20, 24 and 30 feet diameter, and peering in through the windowed doors we thought they look pretty cozy. The brochure Scott gave us explains that the resort is located within the Valle de Los Cirrios protected wilderness preserve,and is a “boat in only” all inclusive multi-sport, soft eco adventure destination. Steve said in the spring months they take guests out in boats to watch the visiting pods of whales. They also provide kayaks, scuba diving equipment, and in the fall you can snorkel with the whale sharks. (Remember those harmless big plankton eating sharks, Korianne?) Guests are flown down from San Diego to the nearby town of Bahia Los Angeles, then brought to the resort by panga. Each guest can bring only 20 lbs of luggage. Sounds pretty appealing to us, and we are keeping this brochure for future reference. The only thing missing, that we would really miss, are the Mexican people to meet, chat with, and get to know. What we really want, when we are back home, is a place to come like Guaymas, but more on the sea, where we can actually be with the people as well as enjoy nature. The typical tourist destinations of Cabo San Lucas, Mazatlan, Puerto Vallarta, and probably Cancun, though we haven’t visited there, hold absolutely no appeal for us.
The kitchen adjoining the meeting dining room palapa of Las Animas Wilderness Retreat.If you are interested, you can check them out at www.BajaAirVentures.com or call 800-221-9283. And I don’t get a commission either!
One of the yurt residences at Los Animas Wilderness Retreat.
If you want to buy your very own yurt for your backyard, this is where you can get one.We bade adieu to Scott and Donna, and began walking down the half-mile stretch of beautiful white sand that lines this section of the bay. Near a few yurts we found three different sections of huge whale bones. They must be from a grey whale, as they are colossal.
Vertebrae in part of a skeleton of a grey whale. Wow! I wouldn’t want to be this guy’s chiropractor!Every few feet we found mysterious bore holes that some unknown critter had created as he dug himself into the sand, judging by the scratch marks at the front of each hole. We were mystified, but reluctant to put our hands and arms down a hole to find out who was hiding in there.
A Ghost Crab’s home.Eventually, we came across a hole whose resident was still in the process of boring: a small crab tucked himself into the hole and pretended he did not see us, on the same logic cats use: If I can’t see them, they can’t see me! We tickled him until he ran for the water, so fast he was a literal blur of scrabbling claws. Mean, but interesting. Scott later told us these are “ghost crabs.”
Walking the beach at Bahia Alacran.
Majestic mountains of the Baja Peninsula provide the perfect backdrop for our pretty, new XP version of Light Wave.
Only a few of the cleaned treasures I scooped up in half an hour at the tiny beach near Bahia Alacran. The little pile in the lower left-hand corner are “snail doors.” They were the little doors on the shells of living snails, keeping their juicy inhabitants and builders protected. Very pretty and perfect for gluing onto greeting cards.The day ended with another great refreshing swim off the boat, and short fresh-water shower. We were ready for dinner and another exciting bit of escapism with “24”!
Monday October 15, 2007
Carllie: We could hardly wait the next morning to get back to our tiny little perfect beach. The plan was that I would snorkel with Garett for awhile, and he would spearfish. Then when I was finished snorkeling, I would swim ashore and sift through shells while Garett continued fishing. This worked out perfectly. I had a great time visiting little fishes and watching big ones, knowing that this was a real bonanza for Garett. With another 2-lb weight on my weight belt, now giving me 6 lbs of weight, I was able to dive to the bottom and stay there easily, watching life under the sea play out before me. The best places to snorkel are over big rocks or reefs, and this little bay was surrounded by both. I discovered many rocks to dive on where I pre-planned hand holds to keep me down, and in one of those spots spired a small manta ray silking over the sand, while keeping a friendly eye on me with the eyes located in the top of this body. I said hello and joined him on the bottom for awhile, keeping him in view as much as possible. He was only about a foot and a half long, but these creatures are beautiful to watch, no matter what size they are. I also saw many blue and yellow striped little fish, one larger bright yellow fish, and many of more subdued colors that became more vivid when I got close.
View from the rocks at our perfect little beach spot.
Eventually, I made my way back to the beach, took of my fins, socks, gloves and lycra suit while sitting in the light surf, donned my hat and a shirt, and plopped myself down in the sand to visit the shells. By the time we had been here for an hour and a half, Garett had gleefully speared three impressive looking mid-size fish, and was boasting in an Aussi accent (as per “Finding Nemo”) “We’re having FISH tonight!”
Garett’s catch for the day.We motored back to the boat, where I showered off and snuggled in with Sweetwater Creek, a new book by an author I had never read before, Anne Rivers Siddons, and was so absorbed in the plot I didn’t put it down for two hours, while Garett practised Spanish in the bedroom hull, had a nap, and then took the dinghy out for an exploration of the western shore.
My happy hunter-gatherer hubby, preparing to clean his catch.
When he got back, I put down my book and went for a refreshing swim, practising my crawl again with my great new goggles (why have I never invested in these before?) while I swam around Light Wave.
Carllie heading for the swim ladder after swimming around the boat. This is the life!Right after my swim, we upped anchor and headed three miles further north around the corner into another lovely little unnamed bay very similar to Bahia Alacran. This bay also has a little resort on shore, though consisting of small cabins not yurts, and all closed up right now and so offering no convenient wireless internet that we could tap into. After I worked on writing this update of our website for a couple of hours while Garett toodled over to visit another boat that had sailed in and anchored after us (my outgoing groupie husband), I abandoned my plans to make another wonderful white bean soup (with potatoes, onions, celery, carrots and spices), for dinner and and instead baked some potatoes to have with Garett’s fish. Cut into small pieces, with olive oil, garlic powder, sea salt and pepper, wrapped in tinfoil, and baked at 400 degrees F. for about half an hour, they were absolutely delicious with the salad I made with sprouted mung and akuzo beans and Garett’s delectable fish. Garett caught three fish, all different kinds. One was a type of puffer and his guts were large and filled with sand, rocks and beetles from the bottom of the sea. We kept that one for flaking into tortilla rice. The other two had lovely light white meat that flaked off the spine very easily. Now Garett knows what to look for and has honed his spearfishing skills. Tuesday October 16, 2007 Carllie: We got another early start today, Garett always starting the day just before Don Anderson’s 7:15 a.m. broadcast from Summer Passage on the single sideband radio with the weather update for the whole western side of Mexico. There has been a tropical storm hovering about 200 miles off of Manzanillo for about a week. It has now been numbered, though not yet named, and is still in the category of Tropical Storm, not hurricane. It covers a circular area of about 150 miles in diameter and is generating winds of 45 knots, but is still a long way from us (900 miles), and with the weather forecasts we would have plenty of advance warning of it does develop into a hurricane and head in our direction. You can see how invaluable and essential these weather broadcasts are for all cruisers in western Mexico and beyond into offshore areas for those heading into French Polynesia, down to Central and South America, or off to Hawaii as we will be doing next spring. It takes me a little longer to get going in the morning, and I am always awakened by the sound of Don’s cheery and humorous voice very knowledgeably and capably announcing the weather. I throw off my Polartec blanket, fold it up, straighten up the sheet on my berth, and stumble out into the sunshine. The day has begun. There has been no swimming or explorations on shore yet, as this morning I dedicated to finishing writing my memories for this update. Garett will do the same, filling in any blanks I have left and adding his memories. Then we will up anchor and toodle back to Bahia Alacran in time to access its wireless internet to upload our update to the website. Great fun. Time to stretch and do a few situps now! Garett: We took the dinghy ashore and enjoyed on a nice little hike yesterday behind the beach at Bahia Pescadora (a name we have given to this unnamed bay). It was perfect for hiking as it was relatively flat with some areas of scrub bushes, so you could walk virtually anywhere. Of course, there are no real trails. It was our first long hike since we left Guaymas. I even had energy at the end to go for a short run as there haven’t been many opportunities to run at the anchorages we have stayed in since leaving Guaymas almost three weeks ago.. Carllie: This hike was really glorious. We found beautiful pieces of quartz everywhere, and hope these pictures give you an idea of their pastel colors.
Hiking at Bahia Pescadora.
We found beautiful pieces of Quartz everywhere on our hike behind Bahia Pescadora –in many pastel shades.
Photos are the best way to keep rocks! The terrain was undulating low hills made up of tiny bits of rock and shells compressed into sand. There was no scree, as there often is on the hills, slopes and mountains surrounding these bays in the Sea of Cortez making hiking up or down any kind of an incline iffy.
Cautiously hiking down to the beach on the opposite side, favoring my weak knee.
We walked slowly due to my currently bum knee and enjoyed it even more, reaching the opposite side of the berm and climbing down to the beach. By that time, I felt a little weak, so we took a slightly different route back.
View of beautiful Bahia Pescadora, with Garett posting as if he is hiking (foot in the air!)
Just about at the beach at Bahia Pescadora, at the scrub line, I looked up and saw a jackrabbit hopping along. Garett saw it just in time, and as we continued toward this greener area, we saw another one. Jackrabbits are pretty big bunnies, not the cute little Easter bunny type. They have very powerful legs, and this one floated through the air for about 8-10 feet after each hop. Back at the white sand beach, walking back to the dinghy while Garett turned around for his run, I saw a lot of coyote tracks. The cycle of life continues in this arid land.
We enjoyed daily swims and snorkels in the crystal clear water.
Dawn departure from Bahia Alarcran to Bahia Los Angeles.Wednesday, October 17, 2007 Garett: We woke up at 6 a.m. with the plan of heading the 15 miles to Bahia de Los Angeles (B.L.A.) to get food, water and gas, and hopefully to find a lavaderia to get some laundry done. After a little struggle with the engine after flooding it we were off just as the sun rose at 6:33 am. You always feel so positive when you are awake with the sunrise and start the day off early. We wanted to leave early as the prediction was for strong northwest winds which was the direction we were going so it would be on our nose. There was about 15 knots of wind so we just motored and bounced our way along at 4 knots.
Garett on dawn departure from Bahia Alacran.We anchored off the small town of Bahia Los Angeles near five other cruising boats. We motored by one monohull, Momo, and hailed a fella on deck, asking him about the best place to land our dinghy ashore. He pointed out the place, while his wife waved from their companionway. He said shortly they would taking their little kids to the beach and could give us directions when we came ashore to the tiendas and stuff.
This hand-drawn map from our chart guide shows Bahia Los Angeles and the islands inside it. We came along the lower heavy dotted lines from off the right hand side of the page and anchored off B.L.A.on the left side of the page.On shore, we bumped into the family from Momo, Bernie, Michelle, and daughters Lola (6) and Jana (3) and spoke to Michelle for quite a while about everything under the sun. We found out that three years ago they had done the same trip we have to do: Mexico to Hawaii in March and from Hawaii to Vancouver in July, which they did in 2005 and then stayed in False Creek for the winter. It was encouraging to get their feedback on the legs.
Michelle and Bernie with sleepy daughters Jana and Lola.Carllie: We were surprised they managed this as Vancouver is so unwelcoming to offshore cruisers, offering no anchorage or moorage. However, they said they were there in Momo before the bureaucrats at City Hall (prompted we think by envious taxpayers and property owners) passed the present laws severely restricting anchoring in False Creek. While it is true there are a few derelict boats in the Creek, most are occupied by liveaboards who have legitimate jobs, and the occasional visitor from near or far. Again, back into our “Mexican discovery mode,” we trudged in the hot sun down the unfamiliar main paved road of this tourist destination, Bahia de Los Angeles, looking for tiendas that had been roughly sketched on a map by our friend Marni Siddons.
Trudging the roads in Bahia de Los Angeles looking for supplies and laundry facilities.We found the comunitaria tienda, as Marni indicated, in a spot that looked like a junk yard, and the very friendly lady who runs the place told us that manana en la manana a las siete (tomorrow morning at 7 o’clock) they would have a fresh batch of fruit and vegetables. So we bought a few things at the other tiendas, and planned to wait for the morning to really stock up. Meantime, we found the lavaderia, and Garett took me and our purchases back to the boat so that I could get the laundry sorted out and prepare it to take to the laundry lady, while Garett returned to shore with all of our water and gas containers. Again, thanks to some misanalysis or misunderstanding, we were told that laundry here was very expensive, that they charged 200 pesos per load ($20). Because of this, I spent an hour very laboriously washing all of our clothes in two pails on the boat, planning on replenishing any fresh water I used before we left. The only laundry I had for Garett to drop off was two big bed sheets and a bunch of small tea towels, hand towels, wash cloths and dish cloths. This was a relatively small load and much to our surprise only cost 50 pesos ($5), so I could have had the whole shootin’ match done for a mere 100 pesos ($10), and saved myself a lot of labour. The $20 price must have been for a huge load of laundry accumulated from a few weeks of cruising There are so many myths about sailing and cruising, living here in the Sea of Cortez. We have gotten pretty skeptical, but are still sucked in!
Here is an interesting photo of some Mexican scaffolding. Note that the horizontal standing plank is supported by the diagonal pieces which are wedged into the ground. It works and is safe.Just as I got my laundry ready for Garett to pick up, Michelle came by in their inflatable and told me that she was on her way over to the “yellow tienda” at the other end of the strip, asking if I wanted to come along. She was going to pick up Michael from the sailing vessel Cambria, anchored near us, as their dinghy and outboard motor had been stolen the night before, along with those of another sailboat anchored in the bay. (Everyone now pulls their dinghies up onto the bows of their boats, or into davits before retiring for the night.) I did go with Michelle and picked up some money from Garett as we motored by him heading back to Light Wave. This yellow tienda was the best-stocked place in town, and the prices weren’t too bad considering that everything in B.L.A. has to be brought in over very rough roads. I got a few things, planning on visiting again with Garett the next morning after the comunitaria for fresh veggies and fruit, and we headed back out to our respective boats. En route, we again met Garett returning to Light Wave from visiting with Bernie on Momo. He let Michelle know that Bernie had invited us over for a visit, and he was obviously gleeful about this. I could sense Michelle’s thoughts, the mother of two little girls who had to make dinner, clean up, and then worry about entertaining guests! Anyway, we waited around, and eventually got a call on the radio to come on over, so we grabbed a bag of tostadas and jumped in the dinghy. Two very excited little blond girls greeted us at Momo–they don’t get very many visitors. I had put on some nice pale green pants and my matching thin long-sleeved cotton blouse embroidered with pale green sequins (purchased last January in San Blas), and regretted that I had not followed through with the idea of putting on a pair of dangly sparkly earrings, when the little three-year-old Jana was enchanted with my “shiny” blouse! I was shown their respective tiny “bedrooms” and played with and on, until I excused myself saying I had to visit their parents now. From then on I was not very popular, but attributed their grumpiness to too much hot sun at the beach earlier that afternoon, and tiredness. We had a great chat with Michelle and Bernie, two historians born in the Eastern U.S.A. and Vancouver Canada respectively, who have picked up their family and left the great vortex of commercialism to travel around the world, educating their daughters with other cultures, nature, winds and waves along the way. Michelle told us about one mother they know in eastern U.S.A. who had enrolled her little daughter in a preschool, giving them a deposit in advance when she traveled to Europe. When she returned and visited the school to firm things up, she was given a big pompous presentation about how important it was for children to be enrolled in that particular school, how every moment of their days is planned, how they usually require the children to take I.Q. tests before they accept them, how children who attend this particular preschool go on to Harvard and Princeton Universities. Michelle’s friend was aghast, and told them they could keep their deposit, she was not sending her daughter here! Thank goodness she had some common sense. Whatever happened to letting children have a childhood? Are we starting to create serfs, workers, drones, from the minute our children enter kindergarten?
Visiting Bernie and Michelle in their cozy boat Momo.Michelle and Bernie said this attitude is all-pervasive in the States: everyone is always chasing the almighty dollar, and it is never quite within their grasp. They do not even know their neighbors, let alone help them out in time of need. It is good to see some young couples are thinking for themselves and taking the route less traveled. Thursday October 18, 2007 Carllie: We charged out of bed and skimmed through our morning routine as quickly as possible so that we could get to the comunitaria tienda while there was still a good selection of fresh produce. Many locals and a few Norte Americanos and cruceros (like us) filled the tiny store, gleefully filling boxes with fresh head lettuce, tomatoes, green pepper, potatoes, celery, cabbage, onions, bananas, nectarines, apples and pears. It was a real bonanza, and a very friendly shopping experience while everyone waited in a long queue for the proprietor to add up their bill. Often, in these little towns that is exactly how it is done: the clerk or owner weighs each item or prices it, then writes it down on a page in a notebook. Once she has priced everything, she adds it all up with a big kids-style calculator, giving you the total in rapid-fire Spanish, which often totally befuddles gringos, so she will politely show you the total on the calculator, which you can easily understand.
Hortencia (holding her head) deals with a flock of customers the day her new produce her arrives. All is actually much more relaxed than it appears here.
This was the third time I took the picture, so the Mexican people, shy at the best of times, were a little straight-faced.Back at Light Wave, while I washed the produce and Garett put away the rest of the provisions, we saw Bernie and Michelle pull up their anchor and sail out of the bay on reefed jib and main, as by now, the wind had come up. We called to them, then responded to their call over the radio and told them we would see them shortly in Puerto Don Juan. We made one last trip to the beach and two other tiendas in this little town of 700 souls, where we found such things as club soda, granola, rice, olive oil, Herdez salsa, and canned fruit salad for the days we have run out of fresh fruit. At one of the nicer tiendas, we bought a few more things and were delighted to find half of the shop filled with fairly new model computers with very high-speed internet. So we plugged in for half an hour, and answered and sent a few love notes. It is tough that we cannot access the internet from home right now, but on the other hand we are enjoying being right off the grid. Sometimes, being plugged into the ‘net is just like having a telephone! If there were a way we could do without a telephone when we get home, I think we would seriously consider doing so. I believe most of us really do not realize how much connections like telephone and internet interrupt our thought and creative processes.
Happy to finally find a store with internet access in B.L.A.The wind was by now pretty strong from the north, and we did not want to stay another night in a bay where we could not swim off the boat, so our plan was to head to Puerto Don Juan, only about seven miles rom B.L.A. So we got everything stowed as quickly as possible, pulled up the anchor and raised our jib only. With a jib only, we don’t have to reef it or the main, so it makes things a little easier. We enjoyed a pretty exciting beam reach sail in building wind and waves to Puerto Don Juan, and were very happy to turn into the dogleg that leads into this perfect little hurricane hole.
Here is the power generating plant for the town. It operates from 6 am to midnight and then it is lights out in the whole town!
A worker waves at us from the pole he is balanced on. They are getting ready to plug it into the ground.
We saw this fat sleeping Siamese cat in the “Yellow Tienda.”
We enjoyed a short sail over to Puerto Don Juan…
It was very windy!There were five other sailboats anchored in the bay when we arrived, two of which were big catamarans that had been left at anchor for short times while owners traveled home. We found Momo here with Bernie, Michelle and girls, as well as Moon Hunter with Bill and Miriam, whom we had first met way back in November 2006 in Turtle Bay on the outside of the Baja on our way here. We were also delighted to find Daydream, with fellow Canadians Wayne and Susan, whom we had met at the boatyard in Guaymas before we left for B.C. in June. Garett had to motor over to them and say hi, and as soon as we had set the anchor and put the dinghy together, he was off like a shot to chat with everyone, while I swam around the boat and had a shower. That night, we heard something rather large sleeping under the boat, probably a sea lion: “wheeezzz, unnnnnh, wheezz, unnnh.” Funny. Last time we had a critter sleeping under the boat was at Silva Bay at Gabriola Island in B.C., and that was either a river otter or a seal. Here in the middle of the night we also heard a veritable chorus of coyotes yipping and singing on shore, in full voice. It was a much better rendition that what we hear at home when we are at the lake in the Okanagan. Friday October 19, 2007 Garett: I did a little socializing first thing in the morning and went and visited Wayne and Susan on their big aluminum sailboat, Daydream. We had last seen them at the Guaymas boatyard in June. We told each other about our summer activities and then I asked them to cover over at 5 o’clock for some food.
Garett enthusiastically visiting Wayne and Susan on Daydream, whom we found at Puerto Don Juan. Garett had really hit it off with them in Guaymas, and stayed in this position telling his long highly dramatic tales for about three-quarters of an hour.After doing a big circle of the bay that makes up Puerto Don Juan I putzed over to visit Bill and Miriam on Moon Hunter. We had met Bill last November in Turtle Bay. He has been free diving since he was about 4 years old and he had really encouraged me at the time to do some spearfishing. This was before I had even snorkeled so this seemed pretty far out. Now I was anxious to tell him my various spearfishing war stories and experiences. I sat in his cockpit for a couple of hours with his two friends Jason and Karen and his wife, Miriam. It was great fun. They invited me to go out with them diving at the entrance to the bay later in the afternoon for some spear fishing.
Bill the amazing freediver and spearfisher and wife Miriam aboard Moon Hunter.After checking with Carllie, I donned my gear and headed out. It was a little bit of a stretch for me as the conditions as the entrance were a little wavy because of the winds blowing into the anchorage. It was a little unnerving swimming in the 3 foot swells and then diving down. As long as you did not poke your head up above the water for a peek it wasn’t too bad. I didn’t get any fish but it was fun trying with Jason and Bill. Carllie: We invited Wayne and Susan over for “high tea” at 5:00 as to call our alcohol-less entertainment “Sundowners” would be a misnomer. I made a wonderful, easy recipe of fruit crumble, using a nectarine, orange and apple, oatmeal, two pieces of crumbled bread, a bit of sugar, some cooking oil and some spices, and we made some Roibois tea. Susan is a fellow computer geek like Garett, and very kindly saved with us a program to “rip” the DVD’s so we could finally watch them. Saturday October 20, 2007 Garett: Today is our one day window to cross over to Isla Angel de La Guarda as tomorrow’s forecast is for the first strong norther of the season with expected with winds of 25 to 40 knots. Our plan is to make the short 15-mile hop to Este Ton, a small horseshoe bay that can hold maybe 2 or 3 boats and which is completely protected from the northwest should the predicted winds materialize. It was beautiful calm morning and we left after saying our goodbyes to our friends in Puerto Don Juan.
Last view of calm Puerto Don Juan in the early morning as we slowly pulled out.
Getting the sails uncovered, preparing Light Wave for the short (15 mile) sail to Este Ton.
Sleepy-eyed Wayne and Susan say goodbye from Daydream. We had to return Susan’s hard drive, but they told us not to bother them before 9 a.m.!
Cruising guide map showing the 15 miles from B.L.A., in the lower left corner, to Este Ton on Isla Angel de La Guarda.
We enjoyed a nice sail over to Este Ton.
Garett en route to Este Ton.
It was flat calm for the first five miles but by the middle of the 15 mile channel that separates the Baja and Puerto Don Juan form Isla La Guardia surprisingly the wind came up from the south at 10 knots. So we had a fine little sail across to Este Ton.We expected someone else to be anchored there, so we were surprised to have it all to ourselves, sort of, since the only other occupants are a lot of no-see-ums which we heard are a factor out on the island and the other non-sentient occupants of the bay and island.
Sun set casts a warm glow on the dramatic outline of Este Ton as we arrive late in the afternoonCarllie: We were literally eaten alive by these voracious no-see-ums from 1:00 in the afternoon when we arrived until we jumped into the water for a very welcome swim. I am sure I drowned about 50 of those little pests when I lowered myself off the swim ladder. Had a great swim to shore and back, while Garett snorkeled around looking for fish for dinner. Then, we shut ourselves up in the cuddy cabin and sleeping hull for a nap. It is difficult to make dinner in the heat, using the stove with all the doors shut, so we just had salads. These no-see-ums are so tiny that they even get through our tiny screens that Garett especially made in San Blas for the no-see-ums there. Although we wrapped ourselves up in our long-john pyjamas with long socks on our feet pulled up over our jammies, and long-sleeved tops, and covered up with sheets or Polartec blankets, we were bitten all night long on our hands or anything else that wasn’t tucked in. Spear Gun Problems Garett: I had heard that the snorkeling was really good here so I went out along the shore towards the entrance reefs. The visibility wasn’t great, maybe 20 feet. I tried a few shots but didn’t hit anything. The bay has a pretty rock bottom and so on about my 5th attempt I swam down to about 15 feet and fired at a fish in the rocks. The fish was too far away so I missed, and not only that, the spear tip jammed in the rocks below me so I had to drop my gun which sank to the bottom. The only problem was that when I reached surface I couldn’t see my gun below on the rocks as the water was a little murky. I tried to keep myself over the same spot in the waves action at the point. It took a few breaths and then went down and at about 10 feet I saw the silver aluminum of the gun. When I reached the spear itself I was quickly able to free it and made it back to the surface with the gun. That was close as I though I might have lost it. I have now filled the hollow parts of the gun with foam so it floats up from the spear which is stuck on the bottom. It is much easier to see now. I continued to try to find some fish but was not having much luck so I made my way back to Light Wave. My gun was armed so I figured I would dive on the couple of rocks under the boat. When I went down I made my last shot at a fish that day, but I missed. When I pulled the spear back to the gun (it is attached with a small 15-foot line I realized that the 6-inch part which is notched for the elastic bands to hook into had broken off and was gone. This was definitely a small disaster as it would be along time before I could get a new spear so my spear fishing career might be on an extended hold. Even if I could find the piece I would have to find someone who could it weld it back together, but first I had to find the piece. I must have dove 20 times to search the sandy bottom for this small piece with no luck. Things did not look good. I was running out of energy and getting cold, but made one more dive in the 15 feet of water and miraculously spotted it on the bottom and picked it up. Now there was still hope that I could continue spearfishing, but we would have to go back to Bahia Los Angeles earlier than we had planned to find a welder to fix the spear before heading back out to the islands. I still had my Hawaiian sling which is still effective but only at very close range. Carllie: On the “Southbound Net” on single sideband radio tonight, one of the cruisers reminded everyone that tonight after moonset, we can view a meteor shower. Moon sets at midnight, so we set our clock to get up at 1 a.m.for the show. We dragged ourselves out of our restless no-see-um ridden sleeps and out on deck to watch for the shooting stars, and did see quite a few. Unfortunately, our enjoyment was somewhat diminished by the continually biting bugs. I mean these critters bite! They are so tiny you can only see them if you look very closely, and they bite–CHOMP!!–as soon as they land. And they actually take a piece of skin out of you. We are not sure exactly how they do this as human skin is very tough and not that easy to penetrate, this being one of the reasons it is not so easy for a spider to bite us. I am going to do an internet search on no-see-ums (How do no-see-ums bite humans?) at the earliest opportunity! Meantime, if anyone else would like to research it, please email me if you find the answer! firstname.lastname@example.org Sunday October 21, 2007
Garett: The strong norther winds were forecast to start some time today but the forecaster did not know when so at about 3 am in the morning we decided that when we woke up for the weather at 7 am if there the winds were going to be delayed we would head back to BLA (only 20 miles) to fix the spear gun right away that morning.
The first day of three days of intense wind at Este Ton whips up the dust in the high hills, eventually almost obscuring them.When we woke up at 6:30 a.m. the north winds had started, and when we heard on the weather that this first Norther of the year would be 25 to 40 knots we realized we were going to be staying here for quite awhile. These late fall, winter and early spring winds are caused by high pressure over the Denver-Salt Lake City which also causes the Santa Ana winds of California which fan the brush fires of southern California into the raging forces of destruction like the one that recently devoured 1,800 homes from Oxnard California down to Malibu..
By 10 a.m. the winds had escalated to 25 knots and gusting, so we decided to move closer to the beach to the reduce the fetch. An hour later when the winds reached 30+ knots we decide to put our a second anchor off at an angle to give us more holding power.
Garett taking out the second anchor at Este Ton in building winds.
One of the good things with all the wind is that the no-see-ums have been blown away. The damage from yesterday’s bites was significant. I must have 200 bites on my hands and feet, and are they itchy, and Carllie has a murder of bites as well. Even using the treatment of applying a spoon (dipped in hot water) to each bite only provides relief for a couple of hours. In the past this technique would dissipate most bites in two sessions.
Carllie: While we were doing this, I thought I saw a cat on the beach watching us! I was sure I was seeing things, that it must be a seagull or something, and didn’t have time to look, but sure enough when Garett came back to the cockpit from setting the anchor, he said, “Is that a cat on shore?” By now, the cat had begun its prowl along the beach,a nd sure enough it was a house cat. Here’s a picture of him. I called to him immediately, presuming he had been lost on shore by visiting cruisers, and promised we would rescue him. We piled into the dinghy as soon as possible with a can of tuna, but when we saw this cat, he ran from us, and we concluded that he is one on of the many feral cats and the cruising guides say are on some of these islands! There are also, no doubt, coyotes, but this particular cat was pretty smart so I am sure he can look after himself.
Domestic cat prowls the shore at Este Ton, checking us out. I was worried about him until we took food ashore for him and he ran away from us. He has learned to look after himself. Later, we discovered that the down side is that these feral cats are eating the eggs of the seabirds, thus reducing the bird population.
Walking in the hills behind Este Ton we found a lot of pumice stones–big and light as a feather, and they float!
First exploration on the beach at Este Ton.
The Wind Storm Builds
Garett: The winds kept building during the day and the mountains became obscured by the blowing dust. Visibility was down to a hazy 2 miles but it was sunny. We listened to the evening weather update and found that boats in the various anchorages within 40 miles of us were getting these strong winds too of up to 60 knots.
After dinner we settled down to watch a movie, but the winds became even more intense with gusts up to 40 knots–which always seems worse in the dark. I didn’t sleep much as I kept checking the anchor lines and to see if we were dragging.
Monday October 22, 2007 – Our 25th Wedding AnniversaryThe Storm Peaks Garett: Today is our 25th wedding anniversary and it will be a memorable day. Firstly the weather: we thought the worst was over last night but we were wrong. After listening to the morning weather at 7 a.m. and hearing reports from boats just 30 miles away experiencing 50-to-60 kt winds, we knew it would get worse. As soon as the weather report was over things did indeed get more intense.
White caps forming in the short 1/8 mile fetch between Light Wave and the shore as the wind intensifies.
These extreme gusts would come off the 3,500 foot mountain peaks that surround the bay with such intensity that it would whip the top of the water off so that it looked like a blizzard.
Intense wind whip up mini tornadoes of water and mountains are now almost totally obscured by dust. This is unique to the Baja, as there is not enough growth to hold down the soil. At home when the high winds blow, trees fall down, but you can still see where you are going!
“Wind devil” a little closer to us just outside our little cove at Este Ton.
` Bigger wind devils in the near distance.The ocean outside the bay was a maelstrom. But it was still brilliant sunshine! It is hard to estimate the wind speed but when we stepped outside and the gusts hit the boat it was difficult to keep our eyes open. It was like putting your head out of a car doing 60 m.p.h. (I guess that is 55 knots). These were the strongest winds we have ever experienced. This went on until noon when it eased up a bit.
We did not feel comfortable leaving the boat to go to shore. However, I did go out spearfishing but only equipped with my Hawaiian sling. I was able to get a small leopard grouper which was going to be our big dinner treat.
Big waves built up in the channel that we viewed when we walked across the beach to the other side.
Light Wave lies at Este Ton, well tethered by three anchors.By late afternoon it seemed the worst was over so we went ashore and looked over the gravel bar that separates our bay from the sea of Cortez. Wow! These big rollers were steaming by. It was a grand sight. We had our own anniversary dinner at home by candlelight. It was a very memorable day. Just as as we were turning in at 10 o’clock the wind started rocketing down off the mountains again with gusts that were at least as strong as the ones of the morning. Finally by midnight it finally wound down hopefully for good. (C: We also figure the north wind the blasted down on us at Este Ton was intensified as it passed roared through the mountains and canyons of Isla Angel de la Guarda.) Carllie: When I got up on this bright windy morning, I was very surprised to find a hand-made card, and a wrapped gift box on the table. My darling husband surprised me for our 25th, and gave me a beautiful pair of silver hoop Aztec-styled earrings that he bought in Guaymas. The wrapping paper says “Juntos para siempre,” which means “Together for always.” Very thoughtful and very romantic. I don’t know how we could have a more perfect way to celebrate our 25th anniversary than sharing a beautiful secluded anchorage on the beautiful Sea of Cortez, being visited by various songbirds throughout the day.
Garett gave me this hand-made card for our 25th anniversary.
Duck-duck helped us celebrate.As my gift to Garett, I made pancakes from scratch using a great recipe I found in a novel I just read, “Beachcombing for a Shipwrecked God” by Joe Coomer. The was the second time I had made them. The recipe involves a lot of sifting flour, and calls for 2 eggs separated, the whites beaten to peaks. Yah right, very difficult without some type of beater. I solved this problem by using an empty mayonnaise bottle and shaking it up. Unfortunately when I asked Garett to get out my ingredients, he brought up baking soda instead of baking powder, and I didn’t double check. Needless to say, 4 teaspoons of baking soda with 1 teaspoon of salt is completely different than 4 teaspoons of baking power. Yuck. I will just have to make these anniversary pancakes another day! This is definitely “All creatures great and small” time, as since we arrived yesterday a steady stream of songbirds has alighted on Light Wave. Since the day after we arrived, the hot north wind has been blowing a gale to storm-force wind, and we figure these pretty little creatures are seeking surcease from the wind, and somewhere safe where they can land and rest. We have had yellow finches, sparrows, and an unidentified beautiful, but slightly larger bird with a long white and black tail, the latter surprising me when I returned to the cuddy cabin after helping Garett re-set and untangle our two anchor lines, and found him inside.
Unidentified bird (can you help Kasandra?) perching in the front window inside our cuddy cabin.While I was making the ill-fated pancakes, another little bird landed in the cockpit, and gradually got closer and closer. Garett threw out a few crumbs of bread and he nibbled at those, but what he really liked was the houseflies that we had swatted inside the cuddy cabin. We threw him 3 dead bodies, and he snapped them up quick as a wink. When Garett went down to have a little nap and I stretched out on the saloon couch, this little bird hopped inside and explored. I got up when he hopped back outside, and put out some water in which I soaked some bread. I am sure this was the first time this little bird had seen fresh water in a long time, if ever, and he liked it. Long and short, he stayed with us all day, and we fed him off and on. When we got too close he repositioned himself on a hull, and when we went to shore for a little exploration he made himself at home in the cockpit.
This little guy stayed with us all day, finding shelter from the wind and free food! We gave him all the little houseflies we merrily swatted. There is an even better incentive to nail these pesky intruders when we can feed them to the birds!We had a great refreshing swim around the boat, in the coolest water yet–73 degrees–followed by fresh water showers. Mmm-mmm, does that feel good! Garett made us a little lunch of tortillas with bits of rice, refried beans and salsa sauce for fillings, and while we ate, our little bird friend hopped in and looked around for food, making himself right at home, on the floor, on the counters, in the frying pan looking for rice! I said to him, “Don’t you have a home? Don’t you have a wife?” but this didn’t seem to faze him. We swatted a few flies and threw them to him, and I am sure he has eaten better today than any other day of his little life, not to mention being protected from the wind and predators. So he will probably come back tomorrow and the next day until this north wind dies down and we can leave! It has been a very memorable anniversary indeed. We feel like the day has been etched in our minds forever.
The blue lines on the GPS show our track thorough the night as we swung around our anchor.Tuesday October 23, 2007 Garett: The winds were down 20 to 25 knots but looking out into 15 mile passage over to BLA it was not very inviting so we decided to stay at least one more day here.
Garett picked up this little Junco and repositioned him as he was in the way. He didn’t fly away and panic as expected, but promptly fell asleep!
Another day of high winds at Este Ton.
Carllie doing her Titanic imitation!
Hiking the hills behind the beach at Este Ton to limber up the legs.
Light Wave securely anchored in very windy Este Ton.
As everywhere in the Sea of Cortez, cacti abound.
Windy days, happy cruisers.
Garett catches a fish a Este Ton. He was certainly a good provider and protector here.Wednesday and -Thursday October 24-25, 2007 Carllie: The bugs are back so we did some early morning snorkeling, Garett in his wetsuit armed with speargun, and me in nothing but goggles. Hey! We are alone in this beautiful spot, and we take every chance we can to enjoy the blissful feeling of swimming in the sea with nothing on. Because the winds and waves had subsided we quickly pulled up our anchor, bade adieu to Este Ton and all of our little birdie friends and cautiously poked our nose out into the channel. After three days of very big winds and one day of moderating winds, the swells were still fairly significant, but there were no big breaking waves like the ones that had kept us safely spider-webbed into Este Ton. It was great to shake out the sails again and give Light Wave her head, and enjoy a nice fast sail to BLA. Although we had originally planned to continue our discovery of the area for a couple of weeks and had provisioned for it, we had to find a welder to fix Garett’s spear. He is now totally into fishing-providing; snorkeling, free-diving and spearfishing has replaced squash as his challenging sport.
Here are the two of the anchor lines completely twisted and tangled. It was fun trying to unravel it all.
The water was very clear at Este Ton and we often saw schools of small or medium sized fish swimming by.
Our goodbye glimpse of Este Ton, our home for four nights.
By 10 a.m. we were off for Bahia Los Angeles. Garett did find a good welder who did a great job welding his spear back together, while I scooted into the yellow tienda across the street and stocked up on produce. We want to get fully provisioned so that tomorrow we can head back out, eventually going north 30 miles to Puerto Refugio for a long stay.
Garett filing the new rubber band slot in his repaired spear.
Sunset at Bahia de Los Angeles.Next day, Garett went ashore with a shopping list while I stayed on the boat to do some writing. We had a great visit this evening, having invited for “High Tea” Bill and Miriam from Moon Hunter and their visiting guests Jason and Karen, all from Sechelt near B.C. on the “Sunshine” Coast where it rains 6 days out of 7. I had made a banana cake, and served everyone cake and tea or Sprite while Garett proudly showed Bill and Miriam around Light Wave and explained our recent modifications. I chatted with Jason and Karen, a boatless couple now retired, about the need for a return to old-fashioned child discipline: i.e., when a parent says “No,” and means No, and if a child doesn’t do what she is told, she is reminded with a little physical stimulation. Jason and Karen raised a daughter with discipline, and have learned that discipline gives children boundaries and actually makes them feel secure. Plus, if they are not disciplined they have no respect for the parents and in their teenage years when they may need some guidance, they will not come to their parents for it. It was nice to hear the voice of Reason. We can only hope that child discipline will have a come-back as weddings did in the 1980s, replacing the ’60s hippy-initiated trend of living together without marriage.
Visiting on Light Wave with Bill and Miriam (centre) and their guests Karen and Jason, all from Sechelt B.C.Friday October 26, 1007 Our friend Marni Siddons, whom we had last seen in San Carlos with hubby Peter, had told me about clams lying around in the sand at nearby La Mona, so guess where I wanted to go? We sailed a short two miles across the bay and anchored near one small unpopulated beach and another beach with a lot of obviously “gringo” houses not far from shore. I could hardly wait to grab those clams that Marni said were right at your feet when you waded into the water, but we had to wait for the tide to go down, so we had a little rest. Just before we settled down we were hailed by a friendly voice and looked out to find a kayaker had paddled over. Working against the waves to stay with us, Gene talked very enthusiastically to us for about 20 minutes about Light Wave, which he had seen on a recent cover of Multihulls Magazine. He had also read that story and others we have written, and loved our wee vessel. Gene is from Santa Cruz, California, and is a commercial fisherman. His friends in houses on shore had invited him down for a holiday. We had a nice chat with him, and I was very encouraged by his comments about the cruising and voyaging stories he so loves to read in Multihulls Magazine. Lately I had been losing some steam on my writing efforts, but Gene’s unmitigated enthusiasm and obvious enjoyment re-ignited the fires. As soon as our rest was over, we squeezed into our wet suits and dinghied to shore. Garett took off with his speargun, while I swam out with my mesh bag secured to my weight belt to hunt for clams. It was a bit of work, but I had great fun diving for clams, and hauled back three bagfuls of them, being forced to return to the dinghy on shore each time the bag got so heavy it was pulling me down. We had a good laugh about that later, as I am so greedy with clams.
Light Wave sails to La Mona so we spearfish and dive for clams.
We had another little visitor at La Mona. The birds and honey bees seem to be attracted to Light Wave’s bright yellow color and wide decks.
Some of the gringo houses on the beach at La Mona.
I was so looking forward to making a creamy clam pasta, but our new friends from the sailing vessel Lightheart, Steve and Carolyn, zoomed over in their inflatable dinghy to pass on an invitation from some folks on shore to come for “cocktails” at their beach cottage at 6 o’clock. We just barely got back to the boat in time to shower and change, then putzed over to the other beach to look for the house with the whalebones. We did find it, this lovely yet simple beach house painted a lovely pastel peach, with a big veranda decorated with huge whale bones, and artwork.
The beautiful outdoor barbecue kitchen at Dennis and Rainy’s beach house at La Mona.
Our hosts were Dennis and Rainy, a very friendly couple also from Santa Cruz. It turns out most of the cottage owners at La Mona are from Santa Cruz, and they are a very tightly knit community. Many of them are artists, and we saw samples of their art during the evening–both in our hosts’ home as Rainy is a very accomplished painter and artist, much like our friend Karmel at home, who turns everything she touches into a piece of art, and also in some beautiful pottery that another guest, Beth, had made and brought to the party. Beth had come with her husband and, more importantly, her cute perky little Jack Russell Terrier, Ben. Beth is also a painter and has just written and illustrated her first children’s book called, “All About Ben.” I gave her our boat card and asked her to let me know when it is published so I can buy a copy. Ben is such an amazingly smart and entertaining little fellow that she has ideas for several books in her head.
New friends and old enjoy a delicious dinner of fresh caught bonita tuna on the veranda at Dennis and Rainy’s beach house.Long story short, cocktail hour (which for us was club soda that we brought with us), evolved into dinner, as Rainy and Dennis insisted all of us cruisers stay. We had freshly made clam chowder, made with clams from the nearby lagoon, and fresh bonita tuna. What a feast! We were so happy to be included with such a friendly group of people, all of whom also happen to be sailors, many racing sailors and some delivery captains, and to get to know new people. Saturday-Sunday October 27-28, 2007 Leaving the clam beds behind, we motored to nearby Isla Ventana, a designated national park, and went for a short exploratory walk on shore.
Isla Ventana, near Bahia de Los Angeles.
Short walk at Isla Ventana–no shells here!
Then we motored to Los Rocas at Isla Coronado, which is actually two islands. The northern portion of the larger island is obviously an extinct volcano, as you can see in this picture.
A view to the north to Isla Coronado. It is an extinct volcano as can be seen by its shape.
On the way to Isla Coronado.
Anchored at Los Rocas at Isla Coronado, an extinct volcano and very desolate.Volcanic remnants on Isla Coronados rise to a 928-foot cinder cone. We had heard there is a way to hike to the top, but the wind did not allow us to anchor in the right spot for our attempt at the summit, thankfully for me as my knee was in pretty bad shape. Going up a mountain is okay, it’s coming down that is so hard on the joints.
Garett enjoying a read at Isla Coronado.
I am now into writing again, thanks to our new friend Gene’s enthusiasm about cruising and voyaging articles.
The sun sets at Isla Coronado.
We stayed for two nights at a more southern anchorage here, and although we went for a brief walk on shore, it is just a desolate rock. It erupted in sometime in the 1950’s, and there is still there is hardly any life. Monday October 29, 2007 Eagerly Light Wave stepped back out into the channel, for a very very fast motoring trip to Puerto Refugio, 30 miles distant. Mysteriously, though the tide was supposed to be ebbing and so against us, we were riding a favorable current that boosted our speed from our usual motoring speed of 5 or 5.5 knots to 6.8 to 7.3 knots.
The top of our first fin whale while leaving Coronado heading for Puerto Refugio.
Bliss! We are all stocked up, the seas are calm, and we are on our way to a very beautiful safe anchorage for a long stay.
Sail Rock marks the entrance to Puerto Refugio. You can see it from a long ways off, and from a distance it looks like a sail, reflecting the sun off its white guano-covered sides.
Chart showing Puerto Refugio at the northern end of Isla Angel De La Guarda.
Here is a detailed map of the Puerto Refugio at the northern tip Isla Angel De La Guarda where we stayed for 8 nights.Because of that favorable current we reached Refugio very early in the day, giving us time for a nice long snorkel and spearfishing foray into the bay. Garett caught two trigger fish! His first trigger fish yet! Great eating!
Garett with his first trigger fish at Puerto Refugio.After a little siesta, we took the dinghy out into the Sea about a mile to a nearby islet where we had heard there is a colony of sea lions that people swim with. This was just a reconnaissance trip, however. We saw and heard the pennipeds from a long ways out, needless to say, and slowly putzed up about 50 yards from shore, very slowly getting closer and closer. Soon, we picked out many sea lion pups hopping about on shore, then we saw them playing on the nearby rocks. They are so cute on shore, but it is hard to get a photo of them, so I have attempted a drawing of the land-bound sea lion pup:
This is my attempt to draw the sea lion pups as they hop around on land. They are not quite correct, I later realized, as they don’t have two back flippers to balance on, just one “feather-like” (thus “penniped”) tail. I will try to draw a better picture for our next update.
Our first view of sea lions and pups at Isla Granito, a two mile dinghy trip from Puerto Refugio.Anyway, we turned off the motor, and gradually drifted close to the island, taking photos and videos the whole time. Soon, the babies ventured out to visit us as their curiosity overwhelmed their caution. It was so funny to watch them poking their heads out of the water for a peak, then turning and twirling gracefully over and around under the water, peaking out, then sticking their whole necks and heads up in groups of three or four, all the time getting closer and closer to us. You know how it is: you see something incredible in Nature and you start snapping pictures when the subject is still a tiny dot in the distance, and eventually they are so close you get perfect pictures. Thank goodness for digital cameras and their huge memory capacity, as with a 35 mm, we would have been cooked. Anyway, I managed to get some pretty good stills and some great videos of this little gang of sea lion pups as they played with us.
Curious sea lion pups checks us out as we sit in our dinghy at tiny Isla Granito, that is home to a sea lion colony. The babies are not that big so they must have been born in September, just like those we saw last year at San Miguel Island.
A gang of curious sea lion pups check us out.
This is my attempt toWe plan to return soon so Garett can swim with them. I am not quite up to that bravery level. My curiosity has not yet overwhelmed my caution. The trigger fish made great eating tonight, with baked potatoes and salad. Very delicious white meat, though we overcooked it a bit. Next time we will know better. The new cruising friends we had made at B.L.A. who had spent the summer up here in the northern Sea of Cortez, lived on fish they had speared every day. Garett plans to keep us similarly well supplied.
A glorious sunset on our first night at Puerto Refugio.Tuesday October 30, 2007 Garett: We though we would stay in West Bay for a couple of days but when the wind died down at 10 am the no seeums showed up so we decided to motor through the little channel over to the middle bight of East Bay.
Beautiful rock formations on the outside of Isla Angela de la Guarda at Puerto Refugio.
We hiked on shore at the southeastern side where we anchored for the day.
This huge cactus has been growing for a very long time.
It was great to stretch our legs.
Returning to Light Wave after a nice long hike.
Light Wave in her day anchorage on the outside of the island, where there were a lot fewer no-see-ums and bobos.It is only about 1.5 miles os we were there in no time so we anchored off the cliffs and while Carllie worked on here writing I went out to do some spear fishing. Every time you go to a new area it feels very foreign, but after a short while you start to identify all the rocks and bolders. There were quite a few fish but it was hard to get close enough for a good shot. All of sudden this huge black form zipped by and I shrieked though my snorkel as it scared the daylights out of me. I tried to regain my composure and then realized it was a sea lion foraging from the colony on the island two miles away. He zipped curiously around me a few more times and was off again fishing like me. They are beautiful graceful creatures in their natural ocean environment. After a bit of lunch we went ashore for a bit of land exercise as the land looked like it was flat enough for a good hike, Carllie’s left knee being not quite up to par. We wandered for about an hour and half through the open scrub. We could have gone farther but we didn’t want to leave the boat unattended too long in the open bay we were in for the afternoon. Wednesday October 31, 2007
Our daily pattern became well established: as soon as the bugs come out when the wind died at 10 a.m. we were off to West Bight in East Bay. After the short 15-minute trip we were away from the biting no-see-ums and settled down to a relaxing day.
Carllie limbering up for another long hike at our second day anchorage at Refugio.
Again, we scooted into shore for a hike, hoping to have a similar stretch to yesterday’s. We were surprised to find the land had no bushes, trees, cacti–nothing, and could not figure it out. It almost looked like Mount St. Helens had blown as there were bits of branches laying flat all over the ground, but nothing living (similar to the matchstick trees we saw in aerial photos flattened against the flanks of that volcanic mountain in Washington State). Finally, on our way back we came across an old nest in the remains of a low-lying bush. The nest was made of the same sticks we saw lying everywhere. As we had seen a few desiccated bodies and skeletons of pelicans, we figured that this is where pelicans nest and perhaps also come to die. The adult birds pick branches off all the nearby bushes, killing most of them; and when the fledglings leave the nests, the wind that blows throughout the year up here from different directions scatters the twigs.
Another interesting and pretty cactus.
This area was absolutely without growth, and looked like the aftermath of a volcanic eruption, until we figured out the cause…
Beautiful azure blue water framed by the ever changing pastels of the beach and strata of rock and sand in the surrounding hills.
Light Wave anchored in her second day anchorage at Puerto Refugio.
At 3 o’clock we went ashore for another hike in the rolling hills to the southwest. It was very different terrain as it was perfectly smooth hills and the valley between them with no scrub or cacti. We later figured that it was because the seabirds had used every piece of grass and twig for their nests.Tomorrow we are off the final 10 miles to the “big city” of B.L.A. (pop. 1,500) to buy some food , and top up water and gas. Sus amigos, Garett and Carllie