La Paz to San Carlos
April - May 2007
Brie and Tim
Game of Mexican train dominoes
Easter potluck in
Spinnaker sail up
Caleta Parteda hike
Linda and Judiee at right
Sunset Isla San Francisco
Isla San Francisco anchorage from Steve's hike
Isla San Jose lagoon
Bahia Salinas church
Old building and
Bahia Cobre looking north--the anchorage is to the left
Moon set at La Lancha on Isla Carmen
Marina Santa Rosalia
Hotel Francés lobby
Hotel Francés lobby
Hotel Francés room
Hotel Francés bath
Sunrise on the Sea
Loaded on the trailer
Out of the water
In the work yard
Swapping stories at season's end
After our challenging crossing of the Sea of Cortez, we anchored in our favorite spot in Caleta Partida on Isla Espíritu Santo. We were very tired, and so for several days we just relaxed and worked to clean up and dry out the boat.
Gary and Judiee on Reverie arrived the next week to spend a few days with us in the anchorage, and we all decided to hike up the ravine to the top of the hill in the anchorage. We did not make it all the way to the top, but we did enjoy about an hour and a half of challenging hiking (and climbing). There is supposed to be a trail, but we have yet to locate it even though we have tried several times. The return trip was just as challenging. Anyway, it was a great workout. When we returned from our hike, we heard the sailboat Athena on the radio. We knew Paul and Nellie aboard the vessel so we listened. Athena was saying that Nellie was unconscious and had stopped breathing. We tried calling them, but we weren't able to get our radio signal out of the anchorage. We later found out that Nellie had suffered a brain aneurism and died before she got to the hospital. Later that week we saw Paul at Marina Costa Baja and conveyed our condolences.
We left the anchorage to move down to La Paz (The Peace) where we had a slip reserved at Marina Palmira. Our daughter Brie and her husband Tim were flying in April 2, so we needed to get everything in order for their visit. La Paz is one of our favorite places on the Baja. We had a chance to visit with some cruisers that we had not seen in awhile.
On April 2 we picked up the rental car and headed down to Cabo de San Jose to get the kids. It is about a 3-hour drive through lovely country. We had not made this drive before, and we were pleasantly surprised at how pretty it was. The plane arrived only 30 minutes late, so we all loaded into our small rental car (with an air-conditioner that barely worked) and headed back to La Paz.
On the 3rd we headed out of the marina to go back to Caleta Partida. This anchorage gives good protection from most wind directions and the water is beautiful. As we were anchoring, I noticed that the engine was surging so I told Steve about it. He decided to change the fuel filters. In addition to that, he was diving on the propeller to clean it when he discovered that the nut that held the anchor on was missing--it's a miracle that we didn't lose our prop. He was able to fix that problem in a short time.
The next day we took Brie and Tim in the dinghy and wound our way through the shoal to the other side of the island. The water there is very clear and the shoreline is spectacular. We went ashore and looked for shells, and then we headed back; however, we decided to stop on the beach where a Mexican fishing camp is, and we took a stroll there as well. We did enjoy a swim in the afternoon, although the water was quite cool.
On April 5 we had to head back to La Paz as the kids had a flight out on the 6th. We enjoyed our breakfast and then pulled the anchor around 10:00. I noticed that the engine was surging a bit, but we left the anchorage with no problems. After about an hour we started having problems with the engine. In a nutshell, we had taken on sea water that got into the fuel tank during our crossing from Mazatlan. Steve ended up rigging a fuel line directly from a 5-gallon jerry jug in order to pull clean fuel to the engine. In addition the bolt holding the starter in place had sheared off, the starter was lying on the engine, and it would not work. While Tim and I controlled the start buttons above, Steve held the starter up so that it would work. Steve said that he felt as though he were being tested--"OK, now what can go wrong." Ah, life on a boat. Finally, we could have been sailing during all of this, but, of course, there was no wind until we got back to the marina. Then, at the worst time, the wind rose. In the end, we made it back and made a fine landing at the dock so life was good.
The kids flew out on the 6th, and then we spent the next 10 days cleaning the fuel tanks and replacing fuel filters. We also enjoyed a potluck on the dock on Easter Sunday.
We left Marina Palmira on April 16 and headed back to Caleta Partida with Stan and Rhea on Vagari. We had light winds from the south, so we were able to fly our spinnaker for most of the trip. We anchored with no major engine problems this time. Steve and Stan took the hike up the ravine, and this time they made it all the way to the top. We enjoyed ourselves walking on the beach and hunting for shells. Liberty Call II joined us on Thursday so we were all ready to head north on Friday.
Our first stop was Isla San Francisco. We always stop here when we are traveling up and down Baja. There were two boats when we pulled in and by the end of the day there were twelve. We stayed there for three days, and in that time we hiked the ridge and had a potluck on the beach. Several boats that we had not seen in quite awhile were anchored with us.
From there the three boats left for Isla San Jose since we had not been there before. San Jose is an exposed anchorage, but we were anchored at the south end with protection from north winds. We all went ashore to hunt shells. This is the first place that we found starfish, and I must have taken ten back to the boat. In the afternoon Liberty Call II left for Evaristo, and then at 4:30 Stan and Rhea joined us in a dinghy ride into the lagoon. The tide was rising, and we were just able to make it over the rock beach that separates the lagoon from the sea. This lagoon is different than the one in Tenacatita, but we really enjoyed it. We stopped to walk on the beach at the end, and then we returned to the boats.
The next day we moved on to Bahia Gacetero which is on the west side of Isla San Jose. We enjoyed a lazy afternoon there, and Steve and I went to the beach where we finally found a conch shell in pretty good shape.
Our next anchorage was about 40 miles north at the northern tip of Isla Monserrat (Serrated Mount). This was another new anchorage. The anchorage is called Yellowstone Beach because part of the shore is yellow sandstone. Stan and Steve did another hike and found some interesting shell fossils.
When we left Monserrat, we headed for San Marquer. This is our second favorite anchorage in the Sea. Stan and Rhea joined us after a pit stop in Puerto Escondido for water and fuel. It was quite windy when we got there, but it settled down later in the day. We stayed aboard our boats that night for a relaxing evening.
Loreto was the next stop so that we could get provisions. A cruise ship had been in port the day before, but thankfully it was now gone. Loreto is a lovely place, but the prices are set for tourists from the cruise ships. We enjoyed breakfast at our favorite restaurant and then did our shopping for provisions.
Isla Carmen had several anchorages that we wanted to visit. We started at Punta Perico. From that anchorage we were able to dinghy into a deserted mining town at Bahia Salinas. The caretaker said that it was no problem for us to look around. This salt flat was mined until 1950. It was very interesting to see all the old buildings and machinery. Unfortunately, the wind came up and the ride back was a little rough and wet. In the morning, the waves were coming in from the west, and the boat was becoming uncomfortable, so we pulled our anchor and headed just around the point to Bahia Cobre (Copper Bay) where it was very calm and nice. Vigari joined us a little later, and then Stan and Steve hiked the hill. We then stopped at La Lancha, which turned out to be rolly. Steve and Stan took the dinghy ashore and then walked to the other side where the deserted town and the salt flat was.
We left Carmen and headed for San Juanico which turned out to be about a 10-hour trip. This anchorage is the best midway stop on our way to Santa Rosalia. We anchored in the northern end, and the next day Steve and Stan were off for another hike. In the afternoon of the second day the wind came up out of the southeast and the anchorage became uncomfortable so we pulled our anchor and moved just around the point to Caleta Ramada. We were forced to do the same thing last season.
The next morning we were off for Santo Domingo at the head of Concepción Bay, which meant another long day. We had to motor sail most of the way but were able to sail for the last few hours and right into the anchorage. We decided that the next morning we would anchor just off the shore at Mulegé (Moo-la-hey). We have never been to this town, and we wanted to see what it was like. Last fall this town was hit hard by Hurricane John and many houses and buildings were heavily damaged. We met an American couple to gave us a ride into town and dropped us off at a very nice place to eat. We then did some quick shopping for blankets and headed for the grocery store. We then grabbed a taxi to return to the boats. The wind had come up, and we were concerned about the boats. Turned out to be a wise move--the boats were heaving into the waves, and we had a challenging time getting the dinghy on deck and pulling the anchor. We moved up to Punta Chavato for the evening where it was nice and calm.
Our last stop was Santa Rosalia. We love this quaint little mining town that now processes most of the squid (calamari) that is consumed. I wasn't able to get a picture of the fishermen, but it is just fascinating to watch them in their pangas pulling up squid sometimes from 300 feet. When they pull the squid into the boat the squid spray water all over the place. These fishermen go out in the late afternoon and fish until around 4 a.m.
The Mexican government has built a new marina in Santa Rosalia as well as numerous other locations, but we chose to stay at the more interesting old Marina Santa Rosalia. This marina has been heavily damaged by hurricanes over the years. The docks are a bit rickety, but the price is reasonable. For $15 a day we can pull into a slip. Ricardo will check you in and give you a sheet for charges. Everything is on the honor system. If you take a soda or a beer, you simply check the box. When you check out, you pay for what you used. We also love the town. Luckily Marina Santa Rosalia still had two slips available so we pulled in on May 7.
Since our anniversary was on May 2, we decided to stay at the old Hotel Francés for a treat. This hotel was built in 1886 by the railroad company, and it is quite rustic but just lovely. Stan and Rhea decided to treat themselves as well. We had rooms on the second floor and had a great view of the bay and the Sea. We enjoyed breakfast in the morning and then headed back to the boats.
On Thursday, May 10, we left Santa Rosalia at 3 in the morning headed for San Carlos since the weather forecast was for light and variable winds. We had to be very careful leaving the harbor because of all the squid fishermen in their pangas, so I stood on the foredeck to keep watch until we cleared the harbor. Most of the pangas were north of us so we had no problems. We hoisted our sail and enjoyed an absolutely beautiful moon-lit night. There was not enough wind for us to sail; however, we did get enough lift on the sails from the light winds to enable us to average almost 7 knots and make the 74-mile trip in 13 hours. Believe it or not that is pretty fast in a sailboat.
We spent the next four days stripping the boat and preparing her to be pulled out of the water. Almost all items were taken off the boat and stored below, and we washed down the boat really well. The temperature was relatively mild still so the work wasn't too bad. We rented a room for the last 4 nights in order to have a cool room in the evenings.
Unfortunately, this season in the Sea was not very fruitful in regard to fishing. Steve was very disappointed, but we are sure that next year will be better. It was also a much cooler year. Our boat is scheduled to have the hull painted, and the bottom will be painted before she goes back into the water.
We will spend some time at the cabin in Chama, New Mexico, taking care of the property and relaxing. We also plan to do a little traveling. We can be reached at the cabin at 505-588-0609 or at Zelda's at 505-881-6891.