Cabo San Lucas

Stu and Julie Conway joined the Captain for the trip south from La Paz to Cabo San Lucas. 
Charley and Stu went to high school together and are sailing buddies that have spent a lot of time over the years on each other’s sailboats.

We spent a couple days in La Paz, a couple days anchored out at Ensenada Grande swimming and hiking and three days making the 150 mile passage to Cabo San Lucas. We stopped for the night at two anchorages on the way south, Los Muertos and Bahia Frailes.

While we were in Muertos we met a retired guy who had constructed the ultimate conversation starter. With his car, a couple six packs of beer and interested onlookers he was a happy camper.

  
Muertos also had a nice restaurant where we enjoyed dinner off the boat. 
Julie headed back to New Jersey the day after we arrived at Cabo. George Bean rejoined us in Cabo.

George, Stu and Charley will be doing the dreaded “Baja Bash” back to San Francisco in Snug Harbor. The “Bash” is a 1250 mile trip up the Pacific coast – into the wind, waves and current. Currently the conditions are too severe (20+ knot headwinds with steep waves) for us to make any headway – so we are twidling our thumbs in Cabo waiting for a weather window where we can head north without the stuffing getting beaten out of us.  

Here is George boning up on “The Baja Bash II” book, which has lots of good advice on how to take on and survive the arduous journey north.

  
With the current forecast it looks like we are stuck in Cabo for a week. We are hoping it it will change for the better and we can get going sooner. Until then we will subsist on tasty seafood, reading and tall tales.

Oops!

The Captain pushed the wrong button and published Stag Cruise to Loretto before he finished it. He subsequently added quite a bit more content. If you would like to see the full post then go directly to the blog, rather than reading the partially completed post included in the last e-mail.

Stag Cruise to Loretto

Mike Pernitzke and Chris James arrived the day Mitzie and the Hartsells left. They  came for two weeks with the plan of cruising 140 miles north to Loretto and then back to La Paz:  Here are Charley, Mike and Chris hiking at Isla San Francisco, a pretty anchorage 40 miles north of La Paz.  Snug Harbor is one of the boats in the background.

    

Hiking in Mexico does not always offer OSHA approved trails.  

 During our passages we trailed a lure and caught three skipjacks. Mike got two and Chris got one. They put up a heck of a fight, but are oily and not very good eating so we released all three after catching them.  
 The best part of Mexico is all the friendly people you meet. Most of them do not have much but they enjoy life and freely share that joy with you. I met Jacob shortly after I arrived at Marina de La Paz and hired him to watch the boat when I was gone, to wax it, and to give it a good bath from time to time.

  
Jacob skippers fishing boats in the summer and hangs out at Marina de La Paz in the winter, looking to pick up whatever odd jobs he can. His english was  a little bit better than my poor spanish and he was the person I logged the most time with practicing my spanish.

  
The goal of our trip was to get far enough north to spend a day checking out Loreto, a town of 15,000 that is the site of the original mission in all of California (both Baja California and California USA).

 

  
It was from this site that all the missions were launched. Senior Loretto, founder

  
The centro area around the mission is very well preserved. We wandered into the lobby of the Hotel Posada and concluded that if we brought our better halves here that we would score some big points.

  
Loreto’s water front malecon is also extremely well kept, lined with nice hotels and housing, up to level of what you would expect to see in the US.

  
The Captain started thinking that maybe a waterfront retirement condo on the Malecon would be sweet. We saw a condo building that looked nice and well maintained from the front with a “Se Vende” sign on it and went over to check it out. We walked around in back and saw that the building was deserted, with trash piled up and what appeared to be lots of cracks in the structure. As they say “Buyer beware…..”

There are islands in the Sea of Cortez all around Loretto and looming behind are the impressive Sierra Gigante mountains.

    
A bit south of Loreto we saw a new development targeted at gringos that looked very nice, as long as you are happy pretending you are not in Mexico when you are really there!

  
One of the anchorages on the way to Loretto was Ensenada Agua Verde where we were treated to a nice sunset.

  

Another anchorage was Ensenada Los Gatos which is known for its beautiful red rocks.  

We were “out” on the cruise for 10 days, about half of that to get north, and the balance to work our way back to La Paz. Going north the wind was either too light, or on the nose, so we motored. We had a couple of days of favorable winds on the way back and had some excellent sails. 

We did lots of things to keep busy – including swimming, snorkeling, reading, guy talk, movies at night, boat chores, eating great meals prepared by Mike, and taking siestas.

  
One of the tasks every night was to select an anchorage and get the boat securely anchored for the night. We used a cruising guide to figure out where the anchorages were, the best spots to anchor and where the reefs and other hazards lay. The electronic charts for Mexico we have help you find the anchorage, but do not have depth information and are usually based very old charts that were done before gps was available. So the charted location of land and other places is often inaccurate. We had one instance of an island that was off on the chart by a third of a mile. It is disconcerting when you are anchoring the boat and the chart shows that you are on land! Mike and Chris handled the ground tackle while Charley drove and picked the spot to anchor.

  
One of the key considerations in picking an anchorage was the direction you thought the wind would blow that night. You want to have land between the boat and the direction of the wind so that waves don’t build. Get it wrong and you can have a pretty bouncy night. It is OK if you are wrong if the nighttime wind is light because then there are no waves. However, if it is heavy, then the boat is bouncing, sleep is hard, and the anchor holding is the only thing keeping you from being blown on the rocks and the boat getting destroyed. Out of our 10 nights we had a couple when it was pretty bouncy, but none where we feared for our anchor dragging.

  

Watch out for those Fingers and Toes!

Two weeks have flown by since the family left and Mitzie and Charley hosted Gail and Paul Wesling and then Diane and Bryan Hartsell. We went out to the islands twice and spent the rest of our time in La Paz. We love having friends come visit and introducing them to this part of Mexico. Editors note and apology: the Captain was lame and forgot to take pictures when the Weslings were here so no pics of the Weslings.

We experienced a couple nights of Coromels when anchored out. A Coromel is not a brand of Mexican beer, but rather a southwest wind that can blow quite hard at night. The catch is that all of the anchorages are exposed to the south west which make them lee shores when the Coromels blow. Waves have a long “fetch” over which to build so it feels like you are motoring into waves when you are anchored. If the anchor drags then Snug Harbor gets smashed to pieces on those glorious rock walls surrounding the anchorage.

  
The Captain’s strategy for coping with the Coromels was to invest a few years ago in a very large anchor and chain and to wear ear plugs to drown out wind shrieking in the rigging. It also helps to have a strong stomach.

Last week Mitzie learned personally how dangerous Mexico can be. First she took a misstep in the cockpit and jammed one of her toes. The captain graciously declined to point out to the Admiral his past advice to wear shoes on the boat as a survival strategy for one’s toes. After a few days gymping around the Admiral recovered only to slice her thumb in the galley. The boat lurched to port and the knife lurched to starbord while the Admiral was making us all lunch. The coup de gras came when the Captain and Admiral were horsing around and her little finger found its way into the door jamb when the Captain was shutting the stateroom door! Ouch! And you probably thought the most dangerous thing in Mexico was drug lords!

Puffer fish like to hang around our boat when we are anchored out. I took this picture looking over the side of the boat.

  
We took a hike, actually a boulder climb, from a beach at Ensenada Grande. 

  
In addition to lots of cactus we saw a good sized lizard.

  

Another new thing we first saw, and felt, when swimming at Ensenada Grande was that the water was loaded up with millions of tiny eggs, some in strings, all with black dots in the center.  We never figured out what they were. Yuch!

  
We also checked out Los Isoletes which is an offshore island that is known for its sea lion rookery. 

  
A popular activity in La Paz is to take a speedboat for the 25 mile trip to Los Isoletes and to swim with the sea lions. The Admiral and the Captain did it a few years ago and it was a gas.

  
 Watching the sun go down on the Malecon on my last night with Mitzie and Diane and Bryan Hartsell. 
Everyone left for the States on Friday morning and Charley had a couple days by himself before Mike Pernitzke and Chris James arrive Sunday evening. Charley took the opportunity to deal with a large window in the salon that that was leaking onto the nav station. The caulk that holds the window in place failed after 15 years and the window was getting ready to fall out. Not good if you are planning on motoring 1200 miles upwind and taking a lot of green water over the bow. Getting the window out was easy. It yielded quickly under light pressure. Getting it back in was more of an ordeal, as it has to be installed with special sealer, in perfect alignment, with pressue on it for two days as it sets, but not too much so that it squeezes all the sealant out. The kayak paddles were just what was needed to keep just the right amount of pressure on.

  

Charley, Mike and Chris have two weeks scheduled to head farther north into the Sea Of Cortez. All the cruisers say you ain’t seen nuttin yet until you head north into the Sea. We will have a report when we get back.

La Paz Simpatico

La Paz has been working its wonders on the White family – Son Justin, wife Jen and grandkids Abby and Porter. Justin and Jen work in high stress advertising jobs and were definitely ready to chill when they arrived from Kansas City. Here is Justin shortly after arrival:

 

We immediatly went to work on the chilling process by stuffing the the Whites full of tasty Mexican food. That along with sunshine and temperatures in the 80’s had an immediate effect.
  
Ice cream also helped

  
After a day of eating, checking out La Paz and a provisioning run to Wallmart we headed out to Isla Partida in Snug Harbor. We were low on diesel so we pulled into the fuel dock at the Costa Baja resort and took on 80 gallons. Steve Jobs’ yacht, which looks like a giant I-Phone, was tied up next to us.  

  

You get a sense for its enormity when you see it dwarfing 47′ long Snug Harbor.  
We then headed out to the island and went snorkling

  
It was like swimming in a fish bowl. During our trip we also spotted whales making huge splashes as they cavorted on the surface, rays leaping out of the water, dolphins, blue footed boobies dive bombing for fish, ever flying frigate birds, cormorants and sea lions. 

The sea of Cortez is loaded with so many fish that we often saw them teeming around the boat.

  
Abby and Porter were thrilled by all the new experiences and did a dance.

  
We used the dinghy, which is stored on davits at the stern of the boat to go exploring from our anchorages. The Captain likes to pull the dinghy back up every night to be sure it doesn’t get blown away or removed by sticky fingers in the night. The only issue with this is that the easiest way to tie it off once hoisted is to stand on the nearby seat, which puts your scalp in range of the spinning wind generator blades. Accordingly, the captain religiously warns all crew not to stand on the stern seats. We had a close call one evening when the Captain caught Justin just as he was stepping up on the seat to secure the dingy. Phew! Close call. 

  

  
Naturally, the next day the Captain stepped up to secure the dinghy and earned a nice laceration for his efforts! The Admiral then issued an order to raise the wind generator pole some more and the Captain said Aye Aye!

After we retuned from the islands we took a day trip by bus to Todos Santos, a historic town on the Pacific side of Baja

  

  

We had lunch at the Hotel California 

  
and then toured the historic streets which feature some lovely old inns and many offerings by artists.

  
   

  

  
We came upon Benito’s gallary where Benito was working on his latest sculpture.

  
We were pleasantly surprised when we leared that Benito had done the sculptures in our favorite park in La Paz, the stones and birds park.

  Benito  

Our last day together in town we went to the new whaling museum. We were greeted at the door by the enthusiastic and delightful director of the museum, Francisco, who spent the next hour guiding us through the museum.

  
The museum was extremely well done and is a must see for visitors to La Paz. As we exited we checked out the full size whale skeleton and dreamed what it was to be like Jonah.

  
Justin, Jen, Abby and Porter just left this morning to return to Kansas City and we expect our friends, Paul and Gail Wesling, to arrive in a few hours.

Back in La Paz

We got back to Snug Harbor on Thursday night after an easy trip by air and bus from San Francisco. Snug Harbor is looking great because Jacob waxed her from tip to toe while we were gone and polished all the stainless steel.

  We were told the average wage in La Paz is $17 per day, so Jacob was quite happy to do the job for $200.
We are moored next to a very pretty 66ft North Sea Trawler, the Ocean Quest. 

  The Ocean Quest is a 60 year old wooden boat that has been lovingly restored by her Owner, Bill Lee. It has had a varied past, originally built as a private yacht, passed thru a few owners, one of which was collared by the feds in San Francisco with a few tons of illicit drugs aboard, then as a Navy mine sweeping trainer, and then to Bill in sorry shape 25 years ago. Bill is also the person that fixed Snug Harbor’s water maker.

On Friday we set about getting Snug Harbor ready for a couple of months of guests. Top on Charley’s list was the Vacuflush toilet which had a vacuum leak that kept its noisy pump going off every 20-30 minutes (which the Admiral pointed out in no uncertain terms Friday morning).

  After taking the offensive beast apart a 15 year old gasket was found to be the culprit, miracle of miracles, the Captain had a spare and the beast was silenced!
There is abundant sealife to be seen everywhere, even in our marina, where we have seen rays and many fish lurking in the shadows of the moored boats. We also saw a pair of sea lions taking a snooze just behind our boat.

  
The sea lions sleep by rolling on their side, holding a flipper and a tail fin in the air and sticking their snout up every so often for air.

Friday afternoon Justin, Jen and grandkids Abby and Porter arrived. This is their first time out of the US so we are having a great time showing them around. On Sat we headed off for breakfast At Marie’s California. The menu was pages long and full of tasty Mexican chow. Abby and Porter ordered pancakes and were pleasantly surprised!

  

We are going to spend another day exploring La Paz and will head out to the islands on Monday. The gang is psyched to explore and go snorkling.

Attacked by my Dermotologist 

About two weeks before Mitzie and I headed back to La Paz I checked in with my dermotologist to have a spot on my ear looked at. I figured she would hit it with some liquid nitrogen and I would be off for some more froliking in the sun south of the border. Wrong! She cut the spot out of my ear and gave me the “Cream” with instructions to apply it to my face twice a day for two weeks – right up until the night before we left.  The “Cream” routs out all those pre cancerous cells, turns them red and sore and makes a general mess of your face. Following is how I looked a few days before the Cream really kicked into action.   
I was afraid that immigration would refuse me entrance to Mexico for fear that I had some kind of communicable disease. Fotunately they let me in. Much credit goes to Mitzie who has continued to accompany me in public. After my face finishes falling off, I hope to be looking semi normal sometime in the future.

On Thursday, we met our friends John and Dorothy Terrill in La Paz and had great fun trying new restaurants and going for a three day cruise on Snug Harbor. The Terrills are full of life and are always up for a new adventure – they are great company.

Warning! – the following section violates my rule not to put pictures of my food on the blog! Please feel free to skip it if you are offended.

Our first day in La Paz we hoofed it over to a tiny restaurant, Tirimisou, which specializes in pasta. Tirimisou is a one man show run by an Italian that went to cooking school in Barcelona. He cooks, he takes your order, he serves you and he buses the table. We sat at the only table in the restaurant, which was on the sidewalk. I had fetticini carbonara along with some of Mitzie’s ravioli and it was the best I have tasted, period.

  All four of us had similar meals. Along with drinks and tip the entire bill came to $20. We plan to take all our guests.

We have been sampling many restaurants and have yet to be disappointed. Food is great, prices are low and the waiters are some of the friendliest souls on earth.

On Saturday, we headed out in Snug Harbor to the Ensenada Grande Anchorage on Isla Partida, about a half day trip from Marina De La Paz. If you can imagine what the Grand Canyon would look like if it were flooded, you will have a pretty good idea of the anchorages in the Sea of Cortez. 

We spent the second night at El Cardoncito, a V – shaped cliff bounded anchorage with room for  one boat. We anchored at the head of the V with steep cliffs about 300 feet to each side of us and a sandy beach at the tip of the V. You need to be quiet when you are here unless you want hear a lot of echoes.

The third night we moved to Caleta Partida where the following photo was taken while we were beach combing. Caleta Partida was originally the crater of a volcano, before it eroded and filled with water over the eons. John and Charley had a swim in the 70 degree water.

   

 The Terrills left on the EcoBajaTours bus for the three hour ride to the Cabo airport the next morning. While we were waiting for them to board, one of Mitzie’s ear rings fell off and dropped through a metal  grate over a storm drain. The ever helpful Mexicans brought me a stick with which I was able to fish out the ear ring. 
After the Terrill’s left, Charley attended to some maintenance items on Snug Harbor. Most exciting was the boom furling system which has never been right since we did all those slam jibes at night in high winds during the Baja Ha Ha.  I had noticed that the mast mounted track for the boom furled mainsail had turned into a wavy curleque and jammed into the lower stop on the mast. I went up the 65′ foot tall mast in the bosun’s chair and found that the plastic track had sheared off just below the mast top fitting. The Captain earned his stripes by hack sawing off the broken piece at mast top and then winching the track back up the mast and reinstalling it in the mast top fitting. It took four trips up and down the mast, a lot of silicon lube and hammering on the so called “sliders” that attach the plastic mainsail track to the mast and steady work by Mitzie yo-yoing me up and down the mast. Thank god I didn’t drop the hammer, or the hacksaw or the electric drill from the mast-top. Fortunately there are no waves in Marina La Paz so I didn’t have to deal with side to side action at mast top!

We head back to California tomorrow and will return to La Paz on March 10.

Adios!