Wednesday, May 16, 2018

A milestone accomplished....

I can't tell you that I ever imagined we'd make it as far north as Bahia Los Angeles but when our friends on cruisingvolare.com mentioned that was a personal goal of theirs I started looking into the possibility of SeaGlub making it that far north. North. That was a foreign concept. Last thing I really wanted to do was go north. Recall I was the guy drinking a beer, despite the sea state, every time we crossed a latitude on the way south along the west coast of Baja, even if it meant a beer at 3am in 25-30 knots. This trip north up the Sea of Cortez has been a pleasant surprise. I'm not trying to say it's been the trip that some others have described when saying they could live in this area for a lifetime, or at least years on end, there's no way I believe we could that as the peaks of summer are frankly just dangerous (heat and hurricanes) and the winters are just unsettling with constant north winds and water temps in the lower 60s even 50s. It's just not pleasant 365 days a year. But what I'm saying is that it's been enjoyable for me to see the many parts of Baja I've missed after exploring this fantastic peninsula by 4-wheel drive vehicle since my first trip with brother Thom and the many excursions with best man Andrew. It's been refreshing to see that Baja is still Baja. Unpredictable. Our wind reports have been about as reliable as well, Twitter news. And the water temps got colder much more quickly than we expected, however the landscapes became more colorful the further we advanced up the road less traveled. After leaving Bahia Concepcion, with water temps in the mid 70s, whale sharks in the area and spear fishing with locals, Santa Rosalia brought a new view for me to a much visited but seldom toured city. Santa Rosalia turned into a pleasant surprise and I look forward to returning. As we headed north with Volare and Shamaya, the water temps quickly changed. Turns out the last bastion of cold water in the Sea is the western portion from SR to Bahia LA. We also found ourselves in a red tide condition so bad that when the water got 'better' and SeaGlub decided it was good enough to make water, we clogged our filters in just 75 minutes. The sailing actually was the upside, we started using sails more than the motor but we were no longer arriving at areas where swimming was welcoming (San Francisquito, Animas, Puerto Don Juan, Bahia LA, and Las Ventanas). The village at Bahia LA was surprisingly good for markets and reprovisioning, no cell reception but available wifi. We left as three boats to Las Ventanas, an intimate anchorage for three boats but we managed to set three anchors and felt good after viewing our boats from high atop the hills after a good hike around the island. Later that night the western Elephantes (winds) and a new moon tide tidal swing got the best of two of three boats as Shamaya had to reanchor at 3am and SeaGlub rubbed the bottom as we swung at anchor and were awoken by the rudder scratching over the rocky bottom. We reanchored at 5am to be more centralized and then drew in some chain so we weren't swinging so close to the shore but at sunrise we decided with Shamaya to exit the anchorage and head north to the next spot. Shamaya left first and followed the course prescribed by the Navionics app, that resulted in a near disaster. No sooner had Shamaya exited the anchorage and turned north they hit a rock underwater and the boat was hard aground with a quickly lowering tide and winds and swell increasing. and this is why buddy-boating can be so crucial. With three dinghies available we had Shamaya off the rocks and on her way fairly quickly. They're fine now and currently sit with SeaGlub in an anchorage 35 miles north, more in a second. Las Ventanas was, unfortunately, the place where we had to bid Volare farewell, where, after years of planning, Volare had a change of plans come up and had to leave to head south. We're sure we'll meet up with them again in a few weeks. In the meantime, SeaGlub and Shamaya had an uneventful (after the grounding) motor north to El Refugio. It's only been one night but this place is the ideal of what I imagined the Sea of Cortez could be. Admittedly we are here early in the season and the ocean water is still cool (66 degrees in mid May) but the water visibility is fantastic, the anchorage is gorgeous with a pelican and sea lion rookery so close that the noise from both almost interrupt conversations, and the fishing so good that Shamaya was throwing back keepers because they had more than they could possibly consume, and..... we've only been here 8 hours!!

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Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Puerto Escondido to Santa Rosalia

Gonna use this opportunity with good internet to put up a bunch of pictures and let them do the story telling.  But basically we had a good time in Puerto Escondido (we skipped the anchorage with the golf course but Chris is hoping to stop by their on the way south especially after learning that it's TPC property - Danzante, and designed by Rees Jones).  In Puerto Escondido we grabbed a mooring ball for about $20 per night.  nota bene: the process is just to go in and grab any ball and then dinghy to the office to settle paperwork, or check in at the long dock at the entrance.  We hiked Steinbeck Canyon and then moved north to Puerto Ballandra on Isla Carmen.  This was a picturesque little bay with great protection from every wind direction except west.  From there we did a short jaunt over to Isla Coronado, which was pretty but busy with tour boats coming in and out all day from Loreto.  Then we headed north with a half way stop in Pulpito where we got beat up for the night by unexpected southeast winds, but we were rewarded the next day with the same winds helping us to sail most of the way to Bahia Concepcion, spinnaker and all.  Bahia Concepcion is amazing.  We stayed a week but could've easily been longer, and Shamaya caught up to us from La Paz!  Several anchorages here, each with its restaurants and hikes.  We swam and spear fished and had movie night on SeaGlub.  On the way to Santa Rosalia we had our best sailing yet, all three boats flew spinnakers but when Lance on Shamaya decided to fly his drone, the drone failed to respond to controls and just hovered in place, not so bad if you don't consider that the boat was moving at about 3.5 knots.  Lance dropped his dinghy, and with some difficulty, was able to retrieve the drone, only to run out of gas in the dinghy, the whole time Pam was alone sailing an asymmetrical spinnaker!!!  Volare came to the rescue and Lance made his way back to Shamaya.  Then to much overlooked Santa Rosalia, an old mining town which proved to be charming, inviting and a great downtown area to walk around.  There's a Fonatur Marina here with about 12-14 slips accommodating boats up to about 50' with one end tie for larger boats.  The slips are double so catamarans could call ahead and the prices are pretty cheap, 8 pesos per foot per day, or about $0.42 in USD, which worked out to $19 per day.  That's right, less than the mooring ball in Puerto Escondido, and we had free power and fresh water!  We will be back.  Tomorrow we start our final trek north to Bahia Los Angeles.  Should be there in a week or less with a stop in San Francisquito.  Here's a ton of pictures:

One of favorite places so far, Los Gatos

Hiking Steinbeck Canyon

Rate sheet at Puerto Escondido

 
Ballandra on Isla Carmen


Moonrise at Coronado

Penny the pillow hog

Penny cooling off in Bahia Concepcion - Burros

Petroglyphs at Burros

Volare sneaking through







SeaGlub in Santispac circled

Hiking with Volare and Shamaya

Movie night on the big screen

Parking lot

A go-to taco shop with internet

Volare cruising into Concepcion

Volare en route to Santa Roslia

Shamaya being singled handed by Pamela

Volare returning crew member, and demoted to second mate, Lance to Shamaya

After a good day sailing time to cool off

A church designed by Eiffel, yes that Eiffel


Pizza on the street
I love how it says 'New' Santa Rosalia, check out the following pictures for the old SR





A lot of this wood, none of it natural to Baja, is from ships which sailed around Cape Horn from Europe or the northeast USA.  Ships were scuttled and help build the mining operations






Marina Fonatur Santa Rosalia


Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Working our way north

After a couple of nights anchored at Isla San Francisco we made our way to a new anchorage to us, Los Gatos, with its pink rocks and wonderful hiking. After a great time there we made our way to Agua Verde which we had visited a couple of years ago with Tradewinds Sailing and we thoroughly enjoyed again this go around. The sailing thus far has been mostly motoring, albeit in glassy and calm conditions, unfortunately the fishing has been pathetic. We intend on heading north towards Puerto Escondido and Chris is hoping to stop at Bahia Candoleros to visit the new golf resort and hopefully get in 18 holes.

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Friday, April 20, 2018

First night out in Bonanza

Day one of our Sea of Cortez travels had us looking for protection from expected southwest winds. Southwest winds rule out a lot of the anchorages in the southern Sea of Cortez, particularly those in the islands. Bonanza, on the east side of Isla Espiritu Santo, is an exception. With a beautiful mile long white sand beach and great, gradual sloping sand bottom, this is a great place to anchor when winds dictate. We had a great time beachcombing all the shells and a fun night on the beach with a big bonfire. Winds came up overnight as expected, 20 knots with gusts to 25 out of the southwest but the water inside the anchorage remained relatively calm and we slept well. Today we're headed north to Isla San Francisco as winds are expected to switch and come out of the north for the next couple of days.  That's all for now. 

Friday, April 13, 2018

Systems test for charging capabilities

As we prepare to leave the docks (finally!) we're testing all systems.  We intentionally turned off all battery charging capabilities until we were down sufficiently to test the generator and solar. Generator ran fine for the 30 minutes we used it then we turned that off and went to solar. We recently added panels and now sit at an even kilowatt, or 1,000 watts. As we approach sunset tonight we are about break even on solar input / usage (+3a) and down 70 amps still which means we generated 255 amps today plus whatever we used since 1030, call it 8 amps an hour so 64 amps so we made 320 amps total today and I didn't even turn the solar on until 1030!!!

Friday, March 16, 2018

Girl Scout cookies in Mexico?

oh crap, it's that time of year, what are we gonna do....?

Good ol' friend Chris to the rescue again.  Chris flew down to visit with 15 boxes of cookies!  As reward we took him out to the islands to play around for a few days.  Always great having Chris visit, even if there's no cookies involved.

Here's a few pics from his visit:

Dinghy fishing, no luck but beers were cold

Hang time

Before our sail Monica and Penny and Chris hiked the hill across from the marina

We also went out to the Mogote at low tide, thankfully this was not how we anchored

this is how we anchored, that's SeaGlub in the distance

this is a airplane shot of one of the anchorages nearby, we anchored just to the right of this photo

kayak time

dinghy time

play time

night time

Thursday, February 22, 2018

Espiritu Santo and Isla Partida



We took off with Volare and were later joined by Jersey Girl II for some fun in the sun and island life in the Sea of Cortez.  We visited 4 anchorages in 2 weeks, we hiked, played in the water, flew drones (video coming later), ate very well thanks to each boat bringing along a chef (Monica, Jess and Donna!), and drank fruity cocktails.

The first anchorage was Enseanda de la Raza, followed by Ensenada el Cardonal then we finished up in Ensenada Grande Norte but when the winds turned to come out of the southwest we tried to find protection in Ensenada Grande Sur but to no avail.  We had a beautiful day of sailing back to La Paz and now we're ready to share several photos here with you all...

Espiritu Santo and Isla Partida and our track over the two weeks

SeaGlub at Ensenada de la Raza


The wall at de la Raza which protects you from the north winds

SeaGlub framed

Volare sitting pretty













Next up was Candolero

SeaGlub in the distance

Jersey Girl II joined us


Tipsea with SeaGlub out yonder


Volare well protected





Whaddaya say Jess?  Beer and camera, it's a great look!

















Cave way up there!


The view from the cave revealed this protected area in the bay

Then we headed for Ensenada Grande.  We started off anchoring in the north lobe and had a terrific day (the first picture of this post is from that afternoon).  That night, however, we got 18-20 knots of wind from the southwest which is exactly the direction the opening to the bay faces, which made for a rough night.  We moved to the south lobe hoping for better protection, but no such luck, night two was even more rough.  We look forward to going back and getting better weather.