Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Cabo San Lucas To La Paz

11/06/11 in Cabo San Lucas: Finally we get to leave Cabo San Lucas! We headed to the fuel dock at 6:30am, got filled up with diesel and some gasoline for our generator. We were out of there by 7 and on our way to La Paz.  La Paz is around and up into the inside of the peninsula in the Sea of Cortez, sometimes called the Gulf of California. We plan, for now, to go to La Paz and stay for awhile and then figure out our next step from there. I am so glad we now get to go where we want, when we want. Now our actual cruising life begins. We have heard the weather reports of a ‘norther’ with high winds and steep seas beginning Monday or Tuesday, so we will only go part way to La Paz and pull in somewhere that is protected. We motored for 45 miles or so and pulled into a nice sized bay called Los Freiles—The Friars. I love this place. There’s no town, only a beach and some fishermen’s shacks. Since we have no prop for our dinghy, we went to the beach with the Phillips’ and poked around for awhile. We found some rocks and tide pools where there were hundreds of dark brown small crabs jumping from rock to rock. I’ve never seen a crab jump before—very cool. The best thing about this place though is the isolation and the quiet. Such peace here. It’s very soothing and wonderful to just sit and look around. We had looked forward to doing some snorkeling and taking a hike here and exploring. But we’ll have to wait because of the weather. We plan to leave tomorrow morning.

11/07/11 in Los Freiles: We left this little spot at about 7am. I was sad to go because it was so beautiful and I don’t think we finished doing all we could do there, but the weather is supposed to get worse before it gets better and we want to get to La Paz. The seas were a bit choppy, wind on the nose about 15-20 knots, but lots of sun, so we soaked up the rays as we travelled, and then anchored in Ensenada Los Muertos. There’s no town here, only a very small luxury hotel and golf course on the west side of the bay, a small church on the hill, a cantina on the east side of the bay and a huge empty white beach with a bunch of fishing pangas in between The mountains off to the west are spectacular—high desolate and intimidating. We got settled in by about 3 pm, had sundowners, bbq’d the fresh tuna the fisherman in Cabo gave us, and settled in for the night. I’m a happy camper to be somewhere tucked in behind a bluff with the wind supposed to get pretty nasty tonight and all of tomorrow.

11/08/11 in Ensenada Los Muertos: Today was a mixed bag. After doing a few chores on the boat in the morning, Rick invited us to go ashore with the family for some beach time and lunch at the cantina. The cantina is named 1535 (the year Cortez landed in these parts) and is a nice large airy place with tile floors, tables for dining, a few grouping of couches and chairs for lounging, a bar, and they serve nice meals.  After lunch we went to the beach, and after some confusion, Terry, Rick and I decided to move the dinghy further down the beach to be closer to where the kids were going to snorkel. As we were pushing the dinghy into the water, Terry got stung by some sea creature of some kind on his foot and was in a lot of pain, and it was bleeding quite a bit. So Rick took us back to our boat and I started reading our medical guide about what to do. It was difficult because we don’t really know what got him. We soaked his foot in as hot of water as he could stand. That really helped his pain. After doing a lot of reading we are guessing he stepped on a sea urchin. I noticed that Sydney had found a dead one on the beach earlier, and the symptoms and description of the wound fit the best of anything I could find. There is no town of any kind here, and if his wound started looking worse I was prepared to hire a local person to drive us to La Paz or the closest doctor. He did the hot water thing for 90 minutes and the pain had lessoned and he had no other symptoms of any kind. So the only thing to watch for now is infection. And we also can’t tell if there is maybe part of a spine from what got him still in his foot. Poor Terry, first he pulled his hamstring very badly in Avalon and now this. He was pretty bummed. By the end of the day his foot was looking much better, so I think the worst is over.

11/09/11 in Ensenada Los Muertos: Terry’s foot looks good, and he feels fine, so unless some sort of infection develops, he will live! We have cheated Los Muertos!
We didn’t go ashore today, we took care of boat chores instead. I did two bucket loads of laundry out on the poop deck. The winds are very strong (+20 knots) because of the ‘norther’ blowing down the Sea of Cortez. We are quite sheltered in Los Muertos, as it’s supposed to be blowing +30 knots outside of here. The sun’s still shining though, so there I was hanging laundry to dry, hoping it doesn’t blow off the boat. I also made bread today!!!! I bought a fantastic book called Artisan Bread in Five Minutes A Day: The Discovery That Revolutionizes Home Baking.  I highly recommend it.
Because the winds in the Sea of Cortez are supposed to die down by tomorrow mid-morning, we are planning to leave tomorrow and see if we can get to La Paz, which is about 58 miles from here. If the seas are too rough, we’ll stop somewhere. There are several little places we can hole up in between here and La Paz.

11/10/11 in Ensenada Los Muertos: Up bright and early, pulled up the anchor and were on our way by 7am. As we left I went up to the cockpit to see what the sea state was. Winds seemed fairly light and the waves were manageable, so I went down below to cook breakfast. What a joke! I no sooner got in the middle of cooking up eggs and chorizos (our last ones from Boise Sad smile) when all of a sudden I felt like I was trying to cook in a washing machine. Confused lumpy seas, winds picking up, Harmony bashing through the mess, and I’m down below hanging on by my fingernails. The eggs were scrambled by default.The rest of the day was not any better. We had 20 knot winds on the nose the whole day and waves like boxcars. We got pretty banged up by those massive waves. It took us 10 hours to travel about 45 miles and we were exhausted by the time we reached Caleta Lobos, where we anchored up for the night. Looks we should have waited one more day before leaving Muertos!
Caleta Lobos is small, empty and peaceful. The full moon rose in the stillness of the evening and once again all was good in our little world.

11/11/11 in Caleta Lobos: Up early, pulled the anchor and headed the12 miles to La Paz. Flat seas and sunshine had restored our good humor. We got a slip for a couple of days at Marina Palmira. Internet!!! It’s slow and I get kicked off all the time, but it works. As soon as we got in, we took a cab to Lopez Marine to see if they had a propeller for our dinghy. No luck there, but the guy told us where the Yamaha shop was, so we hopped in another taxi. We had a great time there trying to talk to the three women at that place, but they had a prop for us, and $143.00 later we left, after smiles and laughter all around. Nice people. We decided to walk for a bit, and ended up walking clear back to the waterfront, which must have been 3 miles or so. On the way I spotted a Telcel store, so in we went to buy sim cards for our cell phones. They do things very differently in Mexico. The store was lined with bank teller-like windows, I’d say 15 of them. We had to get a ‘little paper’ they called it and then get in line. All these employees working, but no one actually getting anything done. Aye yay yay, the red tape!! We waited in line for 30 minutes or so, and finally got our turn. We had everything but our passports with us, so now we have to go back so our sim cards can be activated. Who knew you need your passport to buy a sim card with cell phone minutes? That was all we got done today. Tomorrow laundry, back to the cell phone store, defrost the freezers, and maybe some grocery shopping. Or maybe not.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Cabo or Bust

I know it’s been a very long time since our last post, but I just couldn’t figure out how to make laundry, bill paying, and Costco runs even a tiny bit interesting. We loved our time in San Diego, we really did, but there was nothing much to report, so you’ll thank me for leaving out the humdrum details. That final week before we left was a bit frantic with much running to and fro from Von’s to Costco to Trader Joe’s and a dozen other places. The real HaHa kick-off was the Halloween costume party in the West Marine parking lot the night before the start down the coast. So many weird and fantastic getups had me wondering -- who ARE these people anyway? But it turns out that underneath the feathers, the wigs, the pirate gear and the Bay Watch fake boobs, are some very interesting and nice folks. Our group went as Gilligan—all eight of us, because well, we just ran out of steam to do any more running around for costumes.

October 24, 2011  San Diego to Turtle Bay, Baja California Sur: It was finally time to cut the dock lines and head down to our first stop in Mexico—Turtle Bay. The start of the “race” was at 11:00am, and after a lot of hoopla from other boaters following the HaHa fleet around in a parade through the bay, blowing horns and carrying on, and the dignitaries doing their thing, and the media boat filming our departure for the evening news—we were off! The sky was cloudy and the wind non existent, so Richard, the Grand Poobah of the HaHa fleet, declared that we would have a “rolling start” which meant that we were not required to sail until such time as the wind improved—which didn’t happen until 7:00am the next morning. I think there were 147 boats that actually started and after all the boats crowded over the start line, everyone quickly moved to their planned route to Turtle Bay. Some went nearly 100 miles offshore to the southwest looking for wind, and others, like Harmony, followed a more direct route. We had two nights offshore, good weather and no problems. It was SO nice to be underway again. The first night, with no moon to speak of, we had a sky full of stars from horizon to horizon, and Harmony’s wake shone with  stunning phosphorescence as we putted our way south. We had lots of time to read, listen to the talk-a-holics on the VHF radio, and plenty of time to not fish. It seems that not only are we not racers, we’re not fishermen either, but we heard about a lot of people catching all kinds of fish on the VHF radio, so we were happy to let them have all the glory, to say nothing of all the fish blood and guts on deck. Maybe manana we’ll drop a line in the water. Or maybe not.

October 26-28 2011 Turtle Bay Baja Sur California, Mexico: Ah Turtle Bay, the dusty typical little Mexican village, with the desolate mountains overlooking it. We were pleased to see that It hasn’t changed much at all from what we remember in 2004, except that they have a much nicer set of steps to get up onto the pier than the rickety rusty ones from before. The HaHa fleet was invited to play softball with the locals. Not too many locals showed up, but it was still great fun, except for the face plant I did running from home to first base. Then to add insult to injury, James put me out at third. After a mediocre meal at the restaurant at the top of the hill in town, we returned to the dinghy dock to find that someone had stolen our line off our dinghy, which meant that the $1 we paid the local kid to ‘watch’ our dinghy was money down the drain.  Terry was none too pleased.
We took a panga to the beach party the next day and enjoyed the potluck dishes everyone brought. The beach is huge with a small creek emptying into it. The women won the traditional tug of war contest as usual. There was also beach volleyball, a water balloon fight (biodegradable balloons) and plenty of walking and hiking and exploring. The only bad thing was that one of the fleet catamarans anchored too close to the beach and ran very firmly aground, with every surge of the waves bouncing it harder on the hull. Surprisingly, no damage was done.

October 29, 2011 Turtle Bay to Bahia Santa Maria: We made the trip down with light winds, partly cloudy, but warm. Wind finally picked up and we put up the sails and sailed through the night. That was wonderful, so nice and quiet. The next day was clear and warm and since no other boats were within view we took showers on the poop deck and worked on our tans in the cockpit. Terry got plenty of sun on his “cheeks”.
We reached Bahia Santa Maria at 0600 the next morning, and spent the rest of the day relaxing on the boat. There is no town here, just a few fisherman’s shacks and an eco tour cabin. The bay itself is magnificent, bordered with a white sandy beach/spit on one side and the ever-present mountains overlooking all. The only scheduled event here was a beach party with the meal cooked by local women and music by a fabulous local band. We made our first beach landing in the dinghy by following the cues from the local pandas on the best route in. For the first time in HaHa history arrangements had been made to have the customs officials from San Carlos come over and do our check-in to Mexico right on the beach. We had signed up for this in San Diego by email, but the customs officials ran out of tourist visas just as it came our turn in line. We did get the boat checked into Mexico though! Our former co-worker from Anacortes Marine Electronics, Fritz, hopped a ride with us in the dinghy back to the boat. We realized that our dinghy prop had spun making our dinghy motor useless, although we did make it back to the boat. We’ll be looking for a new prop in Cabo. Photos of Turtle Bay to Bahia Santa Maria leg:

November 2, 2011   Bahia Santa Maria to Cabo San Lucas: The fleet left Bahia Santa Maria at 7am, with very light winds. We decided to motor and got into Cabo by midday November 3rd. The water temp was 85 degrees, and we were hot and sweaty when we got into the harbor. We had elected to get a slip in the marina for a couple of days so that we could get internet and be close to the HaHa activities. Cabo has never been one of our favorite places—it’s noisy at night, crowded and just way too touristy. You see many many more gringos than you see locals as you walk down the street. We tried to check in to Immigration, but we got there at 1:40 pm, 10 minutes after closing, so we walked back to the boat. We kept trying to get onto the marina internet—no luck. Such is Mexico! After dinner at Poncho's (owned by Americans) with the Endeavor folks, we hit the sack early. The blaring rap music from the bars lining the marina didn’t let up until 3:30am.
The next day after going to Immigration and the bank,  we attended the final Baha HaHa beach party at the Baja Cantina. We chowed down at the buffet and listened to great music--no rap! We had a blast and took a ride on one of those banana boat things, where 8-10 people sit single file and a panga pulls you out for a short ride in the bay. The panga driver dumped us into the drink twice, but who could complain when the water is 85 degrees!
The final HaHa event was the awards ceremony, and both Harmony and Endeavor took third place in their divisions. Of course, no one gets less than third place at the HaHa, but we are proud of our trophy nonetheless. It was a successful and enjoyable HaHa, and now we are ready to really start cruising on our own.