Our week stay in the Singular marina at Santa Rosalia went by fast. The management at the marina said that their water was not fit for human consumption, only good for washing the boat so I purchased water from the local water company which was very good quality.Potable water contains less than 750 parts per million, our water maker makes water at about 400ppm in the hot salty Sea of Cortez as measured with our hand held digital water probe & down to about 160ppm in the cold clear waters of the Pacific; the water company water was an astonishing 021ppm.Although we made water for about 5 hours every 3 days our main water tank never got to completely full even after putting in 210 gallons over the course of the week.We don’t have a water level gauge on the water tanks & our water maker is making close to 6 gallons an hour; it seems I’ll have to make more water along the way.
Robin enjoyed the company of the 4 Pack kids before they had to take the bus up to San Diego on Tuesday evening & got his fill of the big power sucking Playstation 3 video games.His newest game is called Tom Clancy Rainbow 6, a super tough guy rescue hero terrorist fighting game; I found the original Tom Clancy Rainbow 6 book used in Loreto & began reading it while Robin was playing his game.
We did lots of provisioning & had a few meals in town with lots of American ‘Thrifty Ice Cream’.The town is quite quaint, there is not the big international tourist scene here, it’s a working town with lots of pleasant folks.It reminds me of ‘old town USA’ in the innocent 1950’s.There is a town square area that the local kids can safely meet & gather innocently; there are no signs of graffiti or angry disgruntled youth found in most big cities.The town was formed by the El Boleo copper mining company in the mid 1800’s.By the 1930’s the mines were showing a decrease in production but WW2 came along & needed a lot of copper, by the time the war was over the mine dwindled out. During the hay days of the mine the Boleo company bought a pre fab metal church from the renowned Gustave Eiffel & was shipped here from Europe.The church still offers mass each Sunday to the faithful followers.
The two biggest eating establishments we found were the pizza place & street vendor’s fried bacon wrapped hot dogs & on a sweet freshly baked bun from a centuries old ‘pandiera’ bakery, always with Thrifty Ice cream desert:-) Some how quite a number of fellow cruisers were afflicted with some sort of stomac issues with mild discomforts.Could have been the many street vendor tacos & hot dogs but we’ll never know for sure.Bobbie has been dealing with this now for about days & other’s we hear on the HF radio are staying put in the marina until they get back up to speed.Robin had about 5 days of tummy issues back in ConcepcionBay but that cleared up before we got to Santa Rosalia.
Santa Rosalia is the last real place to get provisions.We took on as much food stuff as we felt we could & topped off the diesel tanks.Our newest fuel tank is a flexible tank insert; we installed it just before leaving Ventura to take care of the original leaking fuel tank.I suppose we have never filled it up quite so far but this time we filled it a bit more than we have before & it bulged up from the top of the tank & pushed the floor boards up 3/8”:-OThis was quite un nerving, fearing another possible fuel leak if the liner was chafe through.One can buy an off the shelf tank for a few hundred bucks, our custom aluminum tank (which sprung a leak on the way down) cost $1200, this flexible tank liner cost us nearly $4000 & they only guarantee this tank for one year…quite un nerving:-O
Although we are happily cruising our dreams there is always a nightmare lurking just around the corner.The fuel tanks must be monitored for leaks; the motor must be checked often along with regular maintenance.The rudder makes loud banging noises while in rough anchorages since our encounter with the big whale on the way down.We keep a constant eye the hydraulic fluid levels & pressure there; all seems fine those areas. The water maker must keep working & must be operated properly & maintained perfectly.Our electronic charts must be preserved & our paper charts must be handy.Our refrigeration is our life blood as well, if that goes we will be in a survival situation; several other cruisers have had issues with theirs & one had the same unit we have:-OOur anchoring system must not fail us, another cruiser’s anchor windlass stopped working & they had to haul their anchor up by hand a few times, now the guys shoulder is injured so he has to fly home for shoulder surgery:-OWe have to pick good anchorages with good holding qualities of the bottom, even if we have confidence in our anchoring, other boats nearby may not be holding all that well & might drag on to us.While anchored near the entrance of ConcepcionBay the boat anchored ahead of us was nearly lost when a large metal fishing boat dragged their anchor & bashing into their bow a few times; if they continued to bash their sailboat would have been lost.The electronic charts are off by up to two miles!Which is very un nerving when sailing up between dangerous reefs & the chart shows us going right through them:-OWe have to rely on way points, dead reckoning & always keep our eyes wide open.
Twice a day we tune into the long range weather reports to keep an eye on the big stuff that is developing down south, if a hurricane is coming our way we will need to make way for our hurricane hide out near Behia de Los Angeles.There are nightly thunderstorms off the Mexican mainland & occasionally a Chubasco is formed sending out winds of 20 to 60 knots; we’ve been through a couple of 40+knot Chubascos so far.
On July 25th we left Santa Rosalia & again went to Isla San Marcus, this time anchoring a bit north of Sweet Pea Cove.The visibility was 20 to 30 feet the fist day, 30 to 40 feet the next day but on the third day it was down to 10 to 20 with what looked like floaty jelly fish snot:-OBut on the good days we enjoyed lots of snorkeling, kayaking & spear fishing.On one day Robin & I went out to some sea caves to swim & poke some fish.We came upon a sea cave with an under water connection thru to the other side.I couldn’t resist & swam the 15 or so feet under water to the other side; it was very cool!Then to my amazement Robin bravely swam through with absolutely no fear!
On July 30th we departed Isla San Marcus & sailed the 40ish miles to Punta Trinidad.We motored 2 hours, sailed 2 hours & them motor sailed 4 more in a slight aft wind which made for no apparent for the hot ride:-OWe have had nearly no wind now for weeks, at night there often no breeze at all & we survive only because of our small fans inside the boat.As we approached Punta Trinidad the wind began to increase.By the time we set the hook it was blowing in the high teens & soon increased to a steady 25 knots with gusts up to 34.6 knots.It was such a treat to have enough wind to keep us cool inside, we slept for the first time in nearly two months without the loud fans buzzing in our ears :-)It blew all night & now at 11am July 31st it’s still blowing 20+.It is a local phenomenon which often blows like this here when the rest of the Sea of Cortez is flat calm.The land between here & the Pacific Ocean is fairly low lying; the wind that blows regularly at 20 to 30+ on the outside Pacific is drawn over the Baja towards the Sea of Cortez & blasts out over this anchorage.We are just going to stay put again tonight & then make our way towards Bahia San Francisquito 42 miles north.
We sailed into Bahia San Francisquito & set the hook near our cat friends Sunbow, the anchorage looked promising for some nice land exploring snorkeling along the nearby rocky shores.We played a nice long game of Monopoly & then when we were all ready for bed the seas became very rolly so at about 11pm we set up the flopper stopper, just hooking it to the toe rail on the side of the boat & went to bed.Very shortly after the swells increased & we were still rolling side to side rail to rail so we hopped out of bed & set up the spinnaker pole to hold the flopper stopper 20 feet out giving it the leverage to do it’s job that much better.It helped but of course could not make it perfect but we got back to some much needed rest.At 7am in the morning, just minuets after our alarm went off we were jolted out of bed by the loud bang of the spinnaker pole crashing down.In the darkness we didn’t notice that the line that held the pole was chafing on something on the mast.Bobbie hosted the morning Ham radio net in a wildly rolling boat, the moment she was done with her radio duties we hauled anchor & relocated to a nice nearby inner cove within the bay which was flat calm.The wind channeled thru a low gap in the hills at the back of the cove which kept us cool.We had a Monopoly game night that night with our cat friends from Sunbow, naturally Robin kicked our butts; the Monopoly gods must love to watch his face light up:-)
After a few nights we made our way toward Isla Partita (Norte), a very tiny speck of rock.There had been north winds forecast on the radio that morning & there were indeed some slight swells rolling in from the north as we approached the Isla so we decided to anchor on the south side.The water was the absolute clearest so far in the Sea of Cortez, however looking down thru 40 feet of water all I could see was a rocky bottom.We tossed the anchor out in what seemed like the best place but it didn’t set while backing with the motor, you could hear it grinding along the rocky bottom.We hauled it up & circledaround looking for some sand to hook into but found none.We let the hook go in a gravely rock patch with a few grains of sand & it too grinded away when we backed down with the motor but the seas were very calm & the place looked peacefull.But after yet another game of Monopoly the wind had picked up & caused the anchor & chain to grind on the bottom.I took the dingy around to the other side of this very small island & found a very nice anchorage with a good sand bottom so we re anchored the boat there.We stayed there three nights.We enjoyed a nice short hike to the top of the island & tried to play catch with the football but the winds were blowing a constant 25 knots for those three days, the wind blew the ball into the water & I had to race out with the dingy to get it back.The next dayI took my spear gun out & poked a couple of tasty trigger fish, we enjoyed fish tacos that night & enough left overs for another meal some other day.
After a few days in Isla Partita we made our way to Animas Slot, a cute little cove which promised to have great snorkeling & lava tubs to swim thru.But the water was very murky & the seas were building.The cove had wind & sea protection from every direction but south east, of course that’s where the wind & swells were coming from & it felt like a death trap so we hauled our butt a few miles north to the East Animas anchorages where after spend the last few days out at Isla Partita we felt the hot wind blowing off of the desert, the water was warmer & much more murkier.We stayed two nights & I got to take two nice hikes way up to the top the mountains for spectacular view.The 2cd night after my hike had a camp fire party with Sunbow & Emerald Star.
On Monday August 11, 2008 we motored out of the Animas area & sailed to Bahia de Los Angeles, briefly passing thru Pureto Don Juan to check out the hurricane hole & main attraction for the summer; if a hurricane is reported to be making it’s way up the Sea of Cortex between now & October we will be heading to safety Puerto Don Juan.We anchored near the village of Bahia de Los Angeles & went into town for some groceries & had the first meal off the boat in over two weeks but something had made Bobbies tummy feel bad so she’s laying down.
There’s a full moon party on the beach a few miles south of town on the 16th, we’ll be heading out to the nearby islands on Wednesday until the party.Our other kid boat 4 pack should be arriving here by the end of August; only a zillion more Monopoly games to go before they get here :-O
8-13-08We motored over to Isla Laventana about 6 miles away, a small island with a good holding bottom & well protected cove.Bobbie & hiked to the other side of this small island & had a great view from the top of cliffs about 200’ above the anchorage.While Bobbie & I hiked Robin watched a movie which a young boy was working hard to get in shape to join the air force.This character was working out hard lifting weights, doing push ups, pull ups… So when we got back Robin was ready to start his works outs & did a bunch of push ups, jump ropes & swam 11 laps around the boat.The next day he had me dig out the pull up rings we saved from his old fort from our old house; that day he did over 163 pull ups through out the day :-O
8-15-08We motor to Lomona anchorage in south Bahia de Los Angeles to attend the full moon party on the beach with 10 other boats.We enjoyed the beach party on the 16th in Lamona in south Bay of LA, great fun, spent the whole day floating around in the lagoon then when tide went out we all floated out to sea :-) & then the next night we had a birthday bash fire pit pot luck for TJ on s/v Itchin’.
Last year there were about 26 boats here for that party; there are far less boats cruising these days as we are observing from various places along the way.Perhaps it’s the economy that is making it hard to put away the funds to take off for a handful of years.In the past, say 10 to 20 years ago the Sea of Cortez had quite a bit more boats cruising.Employment in the states seem to be good but the wages don’t keep up with the cost of living.The housing market took a huge leap, doubling & tripling their value, gas prices went thru the roof, the cost of paying for a slip has tripled in a few short years while.It seems to take decades for salaries to double & only a short few years most other expenses to double :-O
8-18-08 We motored over to our spot near the light house near the end of the sand spit/arena, other cruisers have named ‘Hipnautical Hole’ :-)There one could drop the hook in about 50’ in a sort of underwater sand pit, the depth decreases to 20’ to 30’ just outside the ‘hole’ giving great holding in any direction but some cruisers felt they might have been dragging their anchor when they noticed they were in only 15’ feet of water after strong winds blew in; it’s better to be safe than sorry so they moved back over to El Limona.We spent two nights here going into town for internet & supplies, each night Robin & I tossing the football around at sunset.
While anchored at ‘Hipnautical Hole’ we saw the famous whale sharks slowly swimming near by, so we hopped into our dingy to take a closer look.These majestic prehistoric creatures only eat small plankton & other tiny sea life by swimming alone with their rather large mouths open to filter feed.The first one we saw was about 21 feet long or just over twice the length of our 10’4” dingy.Unlike a regular shark, it has a wide body with a large wide mouth that was about 2 to 2.5 feet wide with tiny eyes on the sides of it’s head/mouth.They are very docile creatures & don’t generally try to avoid the looky loo ‘bi-pedal’ humans & they are not capable of attacking anything larger than plankton :-)After about 15 minuets we spotteda second whale shark, this one was a few feet small & traveled a bit faster.Which we followed for awhile as the two whale sharks were approaching each other making their rounds in the calm waters of Bahia de Los Angeles.
The second day as we were coming back from a supply in town, we saw anther whale shark, this one was even bigger & wider than the 21 footer we saw the day before.This whale shark had number of remora sucker fish attached to various parts of it’s body; quite amazing :-)
8-20-08We motored to Isla Coronado & anchored near Laguna Rada.I took a two & a half hour kayak ride through the laguna & then up & around Isla Mitlan.Near the point of this island I experienced very strong currents & tidal rips that I’ve only seen of fast moving river rapids over rocks, but here there where no rocks, it was just excessively fast moving sea currents causing odd shaped standing waves in the opposing wind; it was all I could do just to barley make way.The next day Bobbie took a kayak ride into Laguna Rada & hiked up to the high cliffs above our anchorage.Robin & I also kayaked into this Laguna, fun was had by all.
On 8-22-08 our last night here I took a step hike up to the cliffs above our anchorage & took some great pix. That night just before we turned in for bed we saw a spectacular display of lightening, even more dynamic than the night before.When ever you see these dramatic light shows there is a very good chance that the chubosco winds will blow & sure enough about the winds began to pick up towards 20 knots, a few minuets later it was around 25 knots so we brought down our sun cover.It only takes us about 5 minuets to bring it down but by then we were having 25 knot winds & shortly after that it was peaking at just over 40 knots :-OWe felt safe & secure with our 100 lbs of anchor & tons of chain out but we stayed on deck for awhile to experience the furry of nature.The winds hitting the water & send large sheets of vaporized water mist every where.We went to bed for a good nights rest & in the morning we motored over to Isla Mitlan, just a few miles away.
Robin & I had a nice kayak ride around this well protected anchorage with winds hitting the high teens.It was a tough paddle up wind but we got to coast all the way back to the boat in the high winds & surprisingly strong current.That evening at sunset I took off on a ‘quick’ sprint up the nearby volcanic hills on a nearly vertical boulder climb making the top just as the first stars were appearing; it was a nice & cool time to hike in the hot Baja summer.In the faltering light I made it all the way back down safely to the beach but as I was getting close to the foothills of the beach I noticed that our anchored boat was a few hundred feet to the north of my location.When I had landed my kayak on the beach our boat was straight off the beach; there are several beach like landings near our anchorage & judging by our boats location I was sure I must have come down a ravine one cliff away to the south, so I made my way in the dark to the north expecting to find my kayak just over the next cliff.After climbing up to the top the this cliff where I expected to easily climb down to the beach where I assumed my kayak was I felt that it was a very step & long drop off & I didn’t see what should have been at least the faint glow of the lighter colored glow of the gravel beach.I tossed a rock a few feet in front of me but it didn’t land for quite a long while verifying what I couldn’t see in the dark that this was indeed a very steep & long drop off.I then turned back toward the beach I first arrived at & then made my way north by walking long cliff’s edge by the sea; a bit safer down at sea level.Still not seeing the beach I landed at when our anchored boat was straight out from my position on shore I called over to my nerve raked mate on our boat & asked if I had landed to the north or south of my location.Bobbie angrily called out ‘south’!So once more I headed back to the beach where I had safely descended to about an hour ago, finally finding the kayak in the complete moonless dark :-OArriving at the boat I had my fill of ‘crow’ & poop sandwiches served with heavy doses of salty explicatives; they were worried mucho :-O
A few days ago Don Anderson observed a tropical depression forming south of Cabo San Lucas when no other official weather stations even made notice of it.It has just become an official tropical cyclonic storm Julio (‘who-lee-oh’) this morning within 20 miles Cabo with winds in the 40+ range.This storm is expected to head north like they all do, it should be in the Loreto latitudes by this evening & in our area by late Monday/early Tuesday.The storm is 250 miles wide so it won’t matter whether it’s on the pacific side or the Sea of Cortez side, it will bring heavy rains & storm force winds…unless it grows into a full hurricane :-OWe will be moving from our nice spot here in Isla Mitlan & head over to Puerto Don Juan tomorrow Monday 8-25-08.
Sunday night while we were wondering about the approaching tropical storm, lashing down our deck stuff we hear a very loud bang & a gurgling sound under the boat.Our 1100 lb drop down keel dropped down by it’s self, extending our draft from 5’3” to over 10’6”; this would hamper our ability to traverse certain shallow areas :-O On Monday 8-25-08 after the morning weather radio net I dove down to verify that the keel lifting cable had indeed broke.Replacing this cable was at the top of the lists on both the haul outs before we departed, the first haul out they didn’t know how to deal it, the second haul the expert pointed out that to do it right the huge 3” bolt assembly would have to be punched out a cable then crimped on & a massive re-assembly including major fiberglass work would be required; he said the stainless steel cable looked fine, don’t worry :-O
So I hooked up the diving hooka, a small air supply compressor that runs off of our 12 volt system & dove down.I could barely get a tiny rope thru the lifting bolt; I then tied it to the existing cable.The cable ‘eye hoop’ thimble which protects the ss cable from chafe was still in place on the lifting bolt & couldn’t be removed without much struggle; this may cut the rope for the moment the keel was lifted to the end of it’s travel the rope broke. We repeated the processes, this time I used a brand new double braid line of larger diameter & tried my best to align the still in place eye hoop/chafe guard.It worked, the massive keel hauled up into the bottom of the boat & I then installed a bolt to keep the keel up in place just in case the rope tied to the cable breaks again.I will replace this make shift rope/cable with a high quality synthetic line when we get to La Paz.We haven’t used our drop keel since we arrived in La Paz way back in Jan.
Tuesday 8-26-08 morning radio weather net informed us that the tropical storm Julio (‘who-lee-oh’) had dumped a bunch of rain on parts south of us but has now fizzled out so we decided to just stay put & take the big hike to the top of the extinct 1554’ volcano.I gave Robin a 2$ incentive to complete the grueling hike without complaining; the ‘not complaining part would be Robin’s hardest challenge but he did a great job with that part of the challenge.We left the boat about & returned at .About halfway up Robin looked like he was about to pass out so we took a long break & filled him up with oranges & cookies; he took a quick nap while I set off for a quick dash to the top, assuming he would just go back down to the dingy with Mom.I only went about 75% to the top where I decided to come back, not wanting to keep them waiting for the long round trip.When I got about halfway back to their spot I saw Robin bound up the steep trail; amazing what cookie power can do :-)It was great that Robin found the energy to make it to the top, the view was absolutely amazing.All across the horizon we saw beautiful convection clouds rolling & tumbling along, there was rain falling Isla Angel la de Guarda & the cool breeze coming from that light rain felt refreshing along with the part time cloud cover giving us a bit of relief from the hot Baja sun.At the top were various rock pile shrines to acknowledge others summit completion, Bobbie & Robin made our own rock pile shrine to the old volcano gods :-)Robin’s new found boundless energy was delightful & as he threw hundreds of rocks this way & that way all the way down the trail.Making it back down to the dingy Bobbie & braved the stingray invested waters for a cool dip while Robin impatiently waited, not wanting to get his shorts wet :-O
We motored back to the village for supplies, a two day process.There we met some cool gringo vactioners enjoy a labor day escape.We met a cool guy Mike, his gorgous gal Julie & their friend Mosses, there to part the seas & catch some fish.They were successful & gave us nice huge piece of fish they had just caught which Bobbie made some great tempora fried fish tacos with the next day.We haven’t caught any good fish trolling since just before reaching Conception bay & we’ve been experimenting with fish I catch spear fishing.There are a few species that we’ve found that are not all that appealing but find the trigger fish & a spotted greenish brown fish to be of nice taste quality.
On Friday 8-29-08 we motored back to Isla Coronados to the Bahia las Rocas anchorage.The tidal currents that blast thru here are quite amazing.I took a snorkel swim towards the point just 150 yards from the boat to find a very powerful current coming up suprizingly quick just as I reached the point.The moment I felt the current I turned around, it was all I could do to make about 1” forward progress for each strenuous strokes but after a while I made it past the strong currents.Then I kayaked to the small Islet rocks about 75 yards to the other side of the boat.The points of these where the current funnels around them like a swift flowing river & much fun was had riding those currents which swirled & swept me along at very impressive speeds, then curled me back toward the islet in a circuler fashion so I could repeat the ride a few times with out much of an effort.
On Saturday 8-30-08we saw large convection clouds forming over the village about 7 miles away.We could see heavy rains falling & the seas were wiped up into an impressive sea of whitecaps.Just as the winds were building to the high teens we decided to take down our sun cover.It only take about 5 minuits to bring this down but in that time the wind blasted up to about 40 knots & torn part of our sun cover as we struggled with one of the knots.We closed a bunch of ports as the rain started but we didn’t get but a few sprinkles while the boats near the village got over 1.5” in the hour of squally rain with winds of just over 50 knots.So far we haven’t seen more than a few drops of rain the whole time we’ve left San Diego; it had rained heavy there when we were there.
Later that day I spear fished a couple of those hard to catch spotted fish which we BBQ’d & made fish tacos, Robin’s preferred way to eat fish.
A few days later Robin asked if I’d take him out to spear some fish.I set him up with my new spear gun & in hardly no time he bagged two fish for lunch; he seemed to have a more inspired desire for fish which he had gotten tired of after eating so much lately.
When we left the last anchorage our transmission was making strange noise like there was a loose nut or bolt inside.After draining the oil & vacuuming out the rest we found no trace of any foreign parts inside.Turns out the cutlass bearing is getting sloppy & the prop shaft is vibrating in a strange way, mechanical wiz came over & after looking at many things he strongly believes it’s the cutlass bearing.They say it was fine back in Ventura at the last haul out but it’s old & we’ve put on a bunch of miles in the last year.I’ll just fill the packing gland with tons of grease & haul out when we get to La Paz.We had already started making plans to head over to San Carlos which would have been dreadfully expensive; we’re relieved it’s something we can put off until La Paz.
9-07-08Last trip to town & the internet & then we’ll head out to the near by islands with a trip to north of Isla de Guarda providing tropical storm Lowell doesn’t make his way up the sea :-O