Sunday, April 22, 2012

The Islands

3 April 2012 La Paz to Ensenada Gallina/Espiritu Santo

(lotsa pics below!!)

It is time to depart the slip before we get stuck in La Paz! We snuck out of the slip at 0800 and headed north toward the first island, Espiritu Santo.  The weather was pleasant, sunny and light breezes, a pretty day out at sea.   We had a great sail for 30 minutes, then the wind died!  But arrived easily at 1300 and dropped the hook.

That said, however, the big excitement for this run was being boarded by the (dreaded) Mexican Navy/Marines!!    I came up from below and noticed a Mexican panga-style boat approaching our stern; what I saw was a pango with four guys coming pretty close to our boat.  Kind of scary…but we soon realized they were officials from the Mexican Navy who wanted to board us. OK!  What do you say – come on aboard! Bill showed the guy his USMC hat and think the guy was impressed. The young man hopped aboard with his clip board while the other three in the panga just followed close behind.  He was all smiles and said he had some questions to ask us. I got our official paperwork, visas, passports, boat documents, etc and handed him what he needed.  At the end of the “interview”, he handed us the clipboard to fill out a “how did I do?” form for HIM!  He did just fine, LOL.  Then we gave him four Tanque de Tiburon pens and he hopped back aboard his panga and away they went to the next boat. That was a first for us and glad we had all our paperwork in order. It was an easy, very pleasant experience!
About 21 miles and 5 hours later, we dropped the hook in Ensenada Gallina and stayed two nights. We did have some Cormuel winds (night winds that blow thru the hills from the west) and a few rocky/rolly nights where Bill stayed on “alert mode”, as he does.  Our anchor and 125 feet of rode held us fast and we did just fine. We rested, enjoyed the peace and quiet in the bay with a few other boats.

5- 10 April 2012 Ensenada Gallina, passing Isla San Francisco to San Evaristo

Not knowing where we might stop, we pulled up the anchor at 0800 and just headed north.  We had considered San Francisco, a beautiful island.  With little wind to help us, we motor-sailed all day. The most we had was 4-6 knots all day. Whoopee. Of course, per usual, we motor/sailed most of the way again. Isla San Francisco had quite a few boats already as we passed by and the wind predictions for the next few days were high, so we pushed on to San Evaristo, a nice bay we like on the Baja that would have much better wind protection. Arriving at 1715, we dropped the anchor right into the sunset, which was difficult for me driving the boat as Bill dropped the hook.  We have headphones to communicate when he’s on the bow and that helps a lot (thank you Ginger!!).  There were several other boats in the anchorage…maybe 5-6….and we settled in to make sure the anchor and rode were holding us fast – which they did. A few other boats came in after we did.
On arrival, we heard a call on the radio from s/v Willfull Simplicty (love these boat names); she was looking for some Vick’s Vapo Rub – yes, you read that right! – for a little local 2 YO guy who had a miserable cold and neither he nor his mom were getting any sleep.  I had just cleaned out a cabinet and found two and one was right on the bed, amazingly.  So Charlotte dinghy’d over, got the Rub and we heard the next say that both mom and baby were, once again, happy campers. The mom, Ciprianna, was the owner of the only palapa restaurant on shore…very rustic but fresh fish! We arranged to have dinner there the next evening. We watched them clean and filet the fish as we waited, drinking Ballena  (whale!) bottles of Pacifico beer with friends on s/v Intrepid II,  Carol and Kelly. The fresh fried fish, corn tortillas, cole slaw, beans and rice were amazing.
Predicted winds and rough weather had us sit out the semi-storm ( a “norther”) in Evaristo for almost a week.  We went to shore a few times we could, stopped at the local tienda (store) just once – which had 4,000 bottles of catsup (??), a few chips, candy, some fresh veggies and some cheeses in a freezer on the porch.  The lot adjacent to the tienda had goats.  As we left, a small cow entered the gate to join the goats.  Musta been meal time. There are many goats in the area – and some have been captured and penned.  I tried for some goat cheese but did not get the message across well….and ended up with Queso Fresca, fresh cheese. Not goat.
There was a young kid, about 12, who kayaked by the boat one day.  We chatted in Spanish to my best ability. He was extremely chubby, I have to say, and he asked me for coke and candy!  Which, we do not have on board – as I have some diet cokes for an occasional treat and sugar-free candy.   Next best thing was a can of V8 juice, LOL. He said he was familiar with it and accepted it. I suppose I better carry some reserve give-aways…but that said, this kid did NOT need candy!!! 
We will be bringing some school supplies next stop for the local school. Most cruisers drop things off there.  I actually l;eft some coffee mugs I wasn’t using with Ciprianna for her palapa restaurant. Sounds like they need books (chapter books for the older kids) as well as paper supplies. So I will be shopping at Wal-Mart in La Paz!
And being Semana Santa, there were many people out on the water, kayaking, family panga trips, swimming, a few jet skis and even one guy had a remote control, plane that buzzed about during the day. We watched the Semana Santa (Easter vacation) visitors and locals play in the water, the kids on the beach and campers having a great time on their break. In the evening, there were bonfires and music on the beaches.  It did get quite smoky on Good Friday. But it was a very festive week for the locals, with all the visitors.

10 April 2012 San Evaristo to Isla San Francisco

We pulled up the anchor at 0830 in Evaristo, along with most of the other boats, and headed out.  Many cruisers are heading north and we turned back south to La Paz again. It is only an 8 mile run to Isla San Francisco, so we went slow and enjoyed the ride.  We did motor-sail again but had a sail up most of the way, catching a little wind. Ah, yes, just another fine day in paradise. We arrived about noon and found a spot in the lee of the island tucked under a hill as far as we could, for some wind/Cormuel protection, and easily dropped the anchor and settled in. We also noted a few masts on the far side of the “spit” in the center of the island.
 “I left my heart in San Francisco…”…almost.  It is a beautiful bay and island!  The white sandy beach spreads far and wide, curving around the bay and surrounded by low hills and an old volcano on one end – with the turquoise waters and shallow areas, it makes quite a picture!  It is one of the many Mexican wildlife sanctuaries, protected and maintained in its natural state. We spent three nights in on the island, visiting with s/v Tamara a few evenings. Marili and Dave are from Portland and their boat is a classic, having been built by her father in the 70’s and has a tiller to steer!  They are having it hauled back north this summer, after spending 4 years in the Sea of Cortez.  We met them several years ago so was nice to run into them again and visit.  We are hoping they will stop by the house on their way back north in June, after they ship their boat off (via land) to Portland.
For several days, we watched boats come and go, power boats, sail boats and a big tourist cruiser with kayakers and campers (out of La Paz, m/v Adventure II).  There was a beach camp set up for a few days but a quiet group, possible off the big boat.  Perhaps an ecology group or a church retreat – it was unusually quiet for Mexico beach campers! We dinghy’d in and walked the beach, looked at the sea life and found a few shells here and there. We did have some night winds and Bill remained ‘on watch”, often sleeping in the cockpit.

13 April 2012 Isla San Francisco to Ensenada Ballena/Espiritu Santo

Time to move south again, beer is running short. Once again, the hook is up at 0830 and we’re off to Espiritu.  No plan as to where but looking at several possibilities as we headed south. At 1335, we pulled into Ensenada Ballena, the whale bay.  An island off shore is actually shaped like a giant whale, hence the name. Sailing with the Genoa, we did get a boost of 1-2 knots but the motor remained on most of the time.  Or we’d still be heading south. The max wind we had all day was 4-6 knots…..
We were alone in Ballena, a small bay.  One boat pulled in, dropped a hook and appeared to have some problems as we heard them trying to call Marina Costa Baja back in La Paz (the one we call “Costa Lotta”. Haha).  They pulled their anchor back up within half an hour and headed south – very slow for a power boat. They never asked for assistance and seemed ok, but it was odd.  We wondered if we had forgotten our deodorant? Oh well, back to peace and quiet…and an eerie night all alone in an anchorage with some winds.  We kept half an eye and one ear open for anchor dragging.  We use a stay sail, or some call it an anchor sail, that helps to stabilize the boat at anchor. It’s only about 6x6 and works well.
We relaxed, read, ate, sun bathed and I did some jewelry making projects below. I think I even changed the sheets and did some hand laundry.

15 April 2012 Ballena to La Paz!!

A lazy start, we left the anchorage at 0920, heading “home” to La Paz. And what a treat we had! Not only did we see whales spouting and dolphins, we got to sail for four hours straight!!  No motor, wind at our stern, seas cooperating and all.  The winds were 5-20 knots, varying all day. We put just the Genoa/jib sail out and captured a beautiful sail, reaching speeds of 5-6 knots…excellent for us.  A little side-to-side heeling 10-20, but it was fine as the seas were pleasant. We didn’t want to stop and enter the La Paz channel.  But we did – and as we entered the actual marina, we caught some 30 knot winds and Bill was in reverse with RPM’s, heading to our dock.  We had some dock help and Bill pulled in just fine…back to #429, Phew. Yet another outing and back in one piece.

OK - back in La Paz for a few weeks for visa/ FM3 renewals, see friends, shopping, eat out, explore, etc. A few boat projects to do; After rinsing the boat off of salty sea spray, Bill wants to finish the deck varnish job and I have to paint to aft head ceiling area.  Plus, some cleaning, dusting, mopping and sorting.

 Sails, Ho!
 Ensenada Ballena
 San Evaristo, our blue dinghy, us and Carol and Kelly from s/v Intrepid II...

 The fishermen fileting the fresh catch for our dinner (and others)
 Kelly and Carol
 Kids at play in the water and on the beaches.

 Bill enjoying a beer before dinner

 Isla San Francisco  aft of the boat

 Isla Ballena and dropping the hook

yet another wonderful sunset!

 Is it dinner yet?

 Isla San Francisco's beach

back to Evaristo's beach

 our boat with the small anchor sail
 Sea Gull doing the Hokey Pokey

 The tienda's stock of chips and more chips

 One lone cow heading to dinner
 An Easter hat on the beach!

 Semana Santa families at Evaristo

 One young couple packed and moving to Isla San Jose via panga!
  Mama was about 15 with a  brand new baby!

 Bill's favorite pass time - reading!
 My garden....

 The Evaristo goats!

Mas tarde, amigos!  Linda and Bill

Monday, April 2, 2012

Mas La Paz....and off to Las Islas

Above is a Shack burger ( delish!), dock party food, Bill's ribs at Buffalo and a cactus/napolo chip spread that was yummy.

We arrived La Paz on Mar 9th and have decided it's time now for an island "fix". We'll head to Espiritu Santo in the morning for a week or so. Our marina slip is being saved for us. We will be back mid-March and may be off the wifi grid for the time being. We'll send a SPOT report to our "list" whenever we change positions.

We've had wonderful meals in town, walked the Malecon (boardwalk), met old and new friends, provisioned, done laundry, painted exteriorwood (Bill), and a head (Linda), had a new step made Bill has aptly named "the Quarter Deck", cleaned and polished....and just relaxed and enjoyed the marina's "ambiance".


We have dined out somewhere almost every day - to include with Lisa of s/v Andiamo (currently house sitting in La Paz), who was also our mother Taxi and a wonderful driver she is here! Had a few dinners with s/v Charlotte Alane's Gig and Steve until the headed north, heading home this week. New friends on s/v Intrepid II from Canada, Kelly and Carol, have been good dock neighbors and dinner guests aboard. Also here now are s/v Tambaran (Carla and Denny) from San Carlos as well as Frank and Margaret on s/v Mood Indigo. We've also watched out next door neighbor on a HUGE catamaran, s/v Orion, Mike and Cathy, come and go with their multitude of guests. Mike said "That's what I get for buying a floating hotel..."...which it is.

So the La Paz Bungee is grabbing us, pulling us deeper into the marina life. So before we are sitting on our coffee grounds and glued to the dock, we thought we better get a move on for a week or so and drop an anchor at a few different anchorages, look for some adventures, like swimming with the sea lions, dinghy'ing to shore for a beach or a palapa bar or just hanging on the hook "somewhere south of somewhere".

More La Paz pics to follow later.