Monday, December 21, 2015

The trip back to La Paz

Left to right: Shearwater, Brandywine, Shakedown
(in a smaller cove in background)

We are leaving Puerto Escondido with mixed emotions, we, and crew of "Shearwater" (Eric & Pati) headed east to our destination a mere three miles away.  Although it was fairly gusty and the waves where high, we arrived safely in Honeymoon Cove on the northwest side of Isla Danzante.  Our friends on "Brandywine" (Kenny & Nancy Nordstrom) were already there resting peacefully at anchor.

We climbed up the hill to have a look-around and connect
to the Loreto cell tower
Overlooking the northern tip of Danzante Island.  Loreto
is just off to the left about 25 kilometers away.  We got
our phone calls made!

"Sand & Barnicles" at anchor in Bahia Aqua Verde
Departed Honeymoon Cove at 0955 in company with Shearwater.  Brandywine had plans to head north.  After a four-hour motorsail, arrived in Bahia Aqua Verde at 1355. A total of nine vessels were tucked into the northern cove....none in remainder of the bay.  We were expecting some heavy winds from the north, so the north end provided the most protection, mostly from the waves.  We met a number of new crews and a few friends from Puerto Escondido who had come down for an overnight or two before heading back for Turkey dinner.  We were very fortunate to be invited to the motor vessel "Sand & Barnicles", (crewed by Sandy and Barney) to join them for Thanksgiving Dinner.  Eric & Pati, and the local caretaker, Tio Jose, attended the feast as well.  A great dinner and fantastic company!

We ended up spending five nights here because (a) it's beautiful and (b) the wind was blowing a lot.

Just another glorious moon rise.

Another view of Bahia Aqua Verde

Shakedown at anchor in Aqua Verde

Sandy hard at work preparing the gourmet meal

Pati & Eric awaiting the Turkey's arrival

Nancy's cool shell earrings, Tio Jose and Sandy discussing
world affairs aboard Sand & Barnicles (maybe...)
Sandy wrapping a a T-shirt!  Showing a new
way of capturing that moment after catching a fish
out here in the Sea of Cortez.

The T-shirt now has a fish embellished on it...

Shearwater & Shakedown (taken from "Sand &

Shakedown is finally resting in calmed seas.

We finally had to say goodbye to Aqua Verde.  Shakedown has been a fairly frequent visitor, having stopped here and spending six days all by our lonesome back in August, sailing down here with son Steven in mid November and again on the way (this time) back to La Paz.  After consulting with "Shearwater", we decided to head straight for San Evaristo without stopping along the way at Puerto Gatos, as it probably wouldn't provide much protection for the the winds and waves we were likely to encounter, based on weather forecasts.  So we had a fairly rough downwind trip with some 4-6 foot swells and confused seas for some 46 miles.  Motor-sailed all the way.  Mizzen sail broke loose during an unplanned jibe at the aft clew.   But we made good speed and arrived two hours earlier than planned.  Caught a 4-5 lb Skipjack Tuna along the way.  

There's probably a fish tale here...just can't remember.
But it is big enough to eat...shashimi!

Shashimi Chef happily at work on the Skipjack Tuna...

Dropped anchor San Evaristo 1430.  We were feeling pretty good after making the 90 degree turn into San Evaristo.  With only the injured mizzen sail up, we were being hit with 25+ knots on the starboard beam.  So we went from that to basically flat calm.                                 

The mizzen sail after we anchored.
Made repairs to Mizzen sail attachment point at aft end of mizzen boom.  

Weather pretty crappy and cold.  Hung around in the boat reading and relaxing.  Made trip with Shearwater crew to Tienda and then to the Palapa for a beer.

Cleaned fresh water pump filter, which was totally filled with sediments from tanks.  Had to clean filter to washing machine as well in order to do laundry.  

Went for a hike to the Salt Flats with Shearwater crew.  Stopped at the Tienda and purchased some items, although the stock was fairly depleted due to the large number of boats in the harbor awaiting a weather window to continue their respective journeys.

Starting out requires crossing a small "river"

Crossing (walking on) the "river"

On our way to the Salt Flats

The other boats in the bay

Cresting the hill looking north

The muskateers surge forward to the flats

The commercial salt flats

Circling the flats...reminded me of Liberia

A "graveyard" for donkeys and cattle

Made it to the "Sea" side of the salt flat and noticed
this gentleman staring at the rocks

After we got closer, we saw the drain with the plug
removed.  He was watching water drain out of the
salt flat now that the tide was lower.

Water draining from the salt flat

The wind was still blowing in the Sea of Cortez....

Took dinghy to beach near Tienda, which was found to be closed!  Had dinner and a movie aboard Shearwater.
Shearwater on left and Shakedown in center at our anchorage

Went to the Tienda, but were informed that the items we needed most, bananas and beer, wouldn't be in until tomorrow afternoon.  Since we decided to be out of San Evaristo by noon the next day, we just got a couple of items that were still on the shelf and returned to the boat.  We went to the Palapa bar/restaurant next to Lupe's.  A bunch of sailors and their children were there to celebrate one of the youngsters' birthday (she turned eight).  Ate well and listened to a jam session (our friend Eric played his electric drums).  

Got in a little beach combing...Nancy is now known as
After five nights here, we finally said goodbye to San Evaristo at 1155 this morning, arriving in Bahia San Francisco at 1330.  Walked the beach and picked up a few more shells.

After dropping anchor in Bahia San Francisco (Isla
San Francisco) we dingied to the vast, white beach

The water was crystal clear near the shore

The "fleet" at the time the sun set, there
were eleven of us

Our dinghy on it's "landing wheels
Another view looking back towards dinghy after a
long walk

When we were in San Evarista, we had dined at Lupe & Maggie Mae's restaurant several times.  While we were anchored here, who should we bump into, but Lupe, who had come down in his Panga to do some spear fishing!  He presented Shearwater a parrot fish, and then a bit later, he dropped by Shakedown and dropped off another for us!  What a guy!

Eric showing off the parrot fish Lupe brought him.

And the parrot fish he brought for us!
It was time to continue our voyage towards La Paz.  We decided to have one more stop along the way, and the weather seemed to be cooperating a little bit more this morning. Departed at 0800 and arrived Caleta Partida 1230.

Leaving San Francisco behind (as in the rear view mirror)
Our friends on Shearwater took this photo of Shakedown
as we headed from Isla San Francisco to Caleta Partida

Another shot, a bit closer 
We arrived in Caleta Partida around 1230, set anchor and the four of us took a dinghy ride out through a shallow channel between Isla Partida and Isla Espiritu Santo into the Sea. It was too choppy to continue, so we turned around and headed back into the comfort of our anchorage.  Hal managed to pull a small muscle (tweak) in his lower back, slowing him down somewhat.  Still managed to drive dinghy to the beach for a walk on the shore.  

Shearwater and Shakedown entering Caleta Partida

Time to head out and down to La Paz (Isla Partida on
left, Isla Espiritus Santo on right)

We were overtaken by a ferry just before it made its
left hand turn in front of us into Pichilinge.  

Well, we finally got back to La Paz and dropped anchor at 1315.  We checked at the Marina Don Jose and found that the slip formerly occupied by Shakedown (some four months ago) was empty.  It was the only empty slip in the marina!  We inquired if we might pull back into it.  Not a problem, we were told.  The following day (December 8th) we did so and are now here for somewhere around two months, we think.  

Meanwhile, our "summer cruise" is complete, we have (as always) some work to do on the boat, etc. etc. etc.

Until next time......

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Puerto Escondido, Loreto and Dallas

The morning after that miserable Chubasco in the middle of the night, we arrived in Puerto Escondido on Aug. 24 and were happy for the sanctuary the harbor provides. The name itself means Hidden Port, and is one of Baja's most protected harbors, which makes it a popular hurricane hole to anchor in during the summer months (hurricane season}.  

Poerto Escondido is overshadowed by the Sierra de la Giganta mountains to the west. Loreto is north and the mainland is in an easterly direction across the Gulf of California, also known as the Sea of Cortez.  The inner harbor is virtually landlocked with a spectacular view of the mountains and two "windows" looking toward Loreto and Carmen Island.

We were greeted by our friends Pati and Eric off of s/v Shearwater. They had been in Puerto Escondido for nearly half a month and were ready to introduce us to the local group consisting of couples from Canada, Colorado, Las Vegas, and Oregon, were happy to meet us and we felt welcome.  They explained that there are more cruisers expected as the cruising season begins in late October, which happens to signal the end of Hurricane Season.  There was a daily afternoon gathering in front of the Mini-Mart (run by Rafa and Patty).  It was called "Circle of Knowledge", where you managed to get an earfull on a wide variety of subjects.

A day or two later, we decided to split the rental of a car for the day, to explore Loreto, the town about 25 kilometers north of the harbor.  Loreto is a quaint small city with lots of history and good places to eat and shops to look at.  Hopefully, the pictures will give you an idea of our day spent in Loreto. After driving through most of Loreto, we had lunch down on the waterfront at "Augies:.  It was pretty good and very reasonable.  

Our next stop after leaving town was San Javier Mission which is up into the mountains, as is over400 years old.  Everyone at the harbor told us not to miss the equally ancient olive tree behind the church. As the road was like an old monkey trail that went up into the mountains, it is hard to imagine the missionaries hauling the stones needed to build the mission up this road that must have been just a trail 400 years ago.

Our days are filled with swimming, socializing and drinking beer.  We hardly have time for the boat projects!  Unfortunately, the captain is always challenged with some major project.  The raw water pump on the water maker failed and a new one was ordered.  Arrangements were made to ship the pump to the main office in the harbor.  The old familiar running to the dock for water to fill up water jugs was again in play.  Fortunately, the water is claimed to be spring water from the mountains and, after we tested it, we were pleased to discover that it is drinkable.  Meanwhile, in between the socializing, beer drinking, and swimming, there had to be water runs to the dock and back.  Fourteen gallons at a time. Ah, the life of the sailor!  Good news, the captain replaced the impeller to the Ferryman generator and the water flowed which indicates it's working.  Time to go have fun.

We joined our new friends to celebrate Labor Day.  We went to Loreto Bay Inn and spent the day on the beach. We snorkeled, socialized, and had lunch at the restaurant on the beach.  Then we swam in the swimming pool and had Margaritas.   A lovely day was shared by all.  

We had torrential rain for two days and, were happy to ride to Loreto with our Colorado friends, Cindy and Ed for supplies. To reciprocate we had all of our new friends on board Shakedown for cocktails and snacks.

The captain does not let us down, the water maker is back on line and working like a champ!  Oh happy days, just in time for football.

We experienced more storms toward the end of Sept. and had bowls and towels ready to catch the rain inside the boat.  All boats leak, so I am told!

We have friends for dinner on Shakedown and, we are invited to friends boats or palapas for dinner.  All in all, it's been a wonderful Sept. in Puerto Escondido and Loreto.

The highlight of our Oct. was a trip to Dallas, Texas for the captains submarine reunion.  The USS Snook fast attack nuclear sub event brought old shipmates together and we had a great time.  We visited the George W. Bush Museum, the Arboretum and the State Fair of Texas. We did a lot in one week. We even went shopping at the "nicest mall in Dallas"!

The Arboretum

The State Fair of Texas

Projects on the boat continue, hurricanes pass us by, and we continue to enjoy this beautiful place.  The snorkeling is fun and we have discovered many species of fish.  Our new pets are called Chubs and they live under the boat.  They watch us , they follow us in the dingy and they expect to be fed.  There is a competition to see how many Chubs we all can collect under our boat. We are doing quite well with just under twenty.

We greeted the end of Oct. with a hike into the Tabor Canyon, (Steinbeck Canyon) in the Sierra de la Giganta range.  The book said follow the trail but all we found were huge boulders to climb up and over. Pati and Eric were with us and by the time we returned to the harbor we were tired and sore but very proud of our accomplishment.

We had been looking forward to November when son Steven will come for a visit. We plan to cruise the islands and we hope the weather will cooperate.  We know the temperature is cooler because we don't like to take cold showers any longer!

A short trip (3 nights) to Honeymoon Bay, Isla Danzante

A short trip (3 nights) to Bahia Aqua Verde

Had dinner with Eric and Patty at a Loreto Bay restaurant that specialized in Pizza...yum!

Our last day in Puerto Escondido saw us sending off Steven at the airport for his return to the Baltimore area, returning to the port in time for the annual Taco Feast for returning cruisers.  Got a chance to say so long to our good friends and we're heading out in the morning on a slow journey back to La  Paz.

George & Ruth saying goodbye