Thursday, May 17, 2018

Santa Rosalia to Bahia Los Angeles

The leg to reach Bahia LA was going to involve some longer trips, the first of which to San Francisquito was almost 80 miles, our longest leg on this trip to the Sea of Cortez.  As we went north over the course of the two weeks from SR to Bahia LA we encountered much colder water (mid 60s) and no wind to wind on the nose out of the north and one afternoon of extremely heavy fog.  We did find beautiful anchorages and had two buddy boats with us, and Shamaya.  I'll let the pictures below tell the stories:

Bahia San Francisquito

Bahia Animas East

Bahia Animas East little bay
Monica in a whale bone
Group photo

Movie night on SeaGlub

Puerto Don Juan
Four pretty girls
3 drinking boys in Bahia LA

Lunch in Bahia LA

La Ventana anchorage

The time of year (or, more appropriately, the time of the month) that we made La Ventana was during a new moon, which meant large tidal swings.  In the picture above, the boats look tight but with plenty of water around.  By 4am things changed dramatically.  On SeaGlub we woke up to a loud grinding noise at 4am, turns out we had our keel swing across the bottom of rocks so we got up and pulled in some anchor chain to get us into deeper water.  As we were doing this we noticed Shamaya was very close to a rock wall, and they had already moved (at 3am).  By sunrise we wanted out of there and aimed to leave, Shamaya left before us, turned north out of the anchorage, and lodged the boat up on a submerged rock with the tide continuing to fall.  Two dinghies and 30 minutes later, Shamaya was clear and moving on with only a 3 foot long scratch on the very bottom of the keel.

Ventana was also where we lost Volare for a month, they had an unplanned visit from friends, but they were going to arrive several hundred miles to the south in La Paz, so Volare and to turn around and get to where they had started.  We would see them again in about a month, but SeaGlub and Shamaya had some further exploring to do....

Shamaya hard up on a rock

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 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