Last Island Trip and Renaming our Boat

Cloudy sailing day

Sailing out to the islands on a cloudy day was nice.

After squashing what we thought were all of our obstacles to getting out to the islands near La Paz for a more relaxing “vacation” part of our trip, we set sail on a cloudy day. It was a nice sail slightly upwind, so we planned to sail out on one tack and motor back into anchor, as we were feeling lazy and didn’t want to sail upwind the whole way.

Sailing to the islands

Sails up and heading out to Isla Espiritu Santo.

After motoring for maybe 30 minutes, our engine began overheating and spewing coolant. We immediately killed the engine and began sailing toward the nearest anchorage, unsure what the issue was. We sailed upwind in light winds all the way to anchor in Bahia San Gabriel. The engine had finally cooled enough for Tim to get in and take a look. It turned out to be an easy fix of installing a new alternator belt, allowing us to motor up to a safer anchorage with more wind protection just before one of the more beautiful sunsets.

Fixing the engine

Our alternator belt broke and our engine overheated on our way to the islands. Tim had to dive into the cockpit locker to fix it.

Island sunset near La Paz

We arrived to anchor just before sunset at Isla Espiritu Santo.

Anchoring at sunset

It was a stunning sunset as we anchored for the night.

The next day offered winds from the west/southwest, allowing for us to have a wonderful sail up to one of my favorite islands — Isla San Francisco. This is one of the more picturesque places we have visited in the Sea of Cortez. The same night, our friends on s/v Calypso, Rick and Jasna, arrived just before sunset. We had planned to meet them there, but weren’t sure if the would make it. We enjoyed swimming, kayaking, spear fishing (Tim, Rick and Jasna) and hiking at the island for six days. Rick and Jasna had to deliver some school supplies to the small fishing village just to the north, San Evaristo, and we were looking to get away from the tons of mosquitos at Isla San Francisco, so we followed them upwind.

Sailing in Mexico

Our nice sail up to Isla San Francisco.

sunny sail

We were keeping the sun off our backs as we sailed north.

Swimming the the Sea

The water was crazy clear and the perfect temp for swimming.

Picture perfect Island

Swimming, fishing, kayaking and hiking at Isla San Francisco.

Fish for Dinner

Tim shot three trigger fish for dinner with Calypso.

Hiking Isla San Francisco

Beautiful Isla San Francisco from the hike along the ridge line.

Hiking is fun

Me and Tim hiking with Jasna along the Isla San Francisco ridge line.

Jasna Tuta hiking

Jasna gazing off into the Sea of Cortez on our hike at Isla San Francisco.

Isla San Francisco

The view from the top – Isla San Francisco.

Jasna and Rick on Calypso are expert sailors, I would say. Jasna used to teach sailing in Italy, and Rick took a Yatchmaster course in Austrailia. Knowing we could learn a thing or two from these pros, we set out to follow them on our next sail upwind to San Evaristo. This proved a bit unsuccessful as we tried to tack our way to the little fishing village, we got frustrated and decided to turn the motor on (cheaters, I know). Much to our dismay, the alternator belt was slipping and our engine was struggling with overheating again. Tim rigged up a temporary solution by tying a line to the alternator and putting upward pressure on it so we could motor sail our way in. We stayed for a couple nights in San Evaristo, restocking our chocolate stash and a few other fresh foods that were running low.

With north winds predicted for the next several days, we all decided it was a good time to head back to La Paz. We were a bit nervous, considering our motor troubles, but left early for what we thought would be a nice downwind sail. Unfortunately, just as we pulled out of the anchorage, our engine was overheating again and the belt had broken once more. Frustrated, we opened our jib only and headed downwind, thinking we could repair it along the 6 hour trip. The sea was pretty rough and choppy, and without our main sail up, we were rocking and rolling the entire trip. This didn’t give Tim a chance to crawl around the engine compartment and sort out our issue.

The wind was getting pretty strong as we and Calypso — both with only headsails out — headed down to Isla Partida. As we finally approached our intended anchorage, we attempted turning into the wind with hopes of getting close enough to safely to drop anchor. This was a big mistake. The wind had picked up over 20 knots and we didn’t have any power without our main sail up. So we raised the main with the boat pointing downwind — a little dangerous maneuver because the chances for a accidental jibe are high. That is exactly what happened. We accidentally jibed hard, popping the boom right off the mast.

I had already reached my maximum stress load and freaked out about 10 minutes before we lost the boom. So, I stayed strangely calm, sailing the boat into the mouth of a different, calmer  anchorage where Tim was able to replace the alternator belt before we got too close to land. This allowed us to motor (hobble) the rest of the way to anchor. After a day like that, there was no way we could come on the VHF radio and hail with the name “Luckiest.” We decided at that moment we must rename our boat. We called Calypso, who had already anchored in our intended spot. They came down right away to help us lick our wounds.  We were happy to have their help, and we all stayed a couple of days to relax.

The second night we had our renaming ceremony (sailor’s tradition) for our boat, asking Neptune to take care of her under the new name — Lucí.

Motoring back to La Paz

It was a calm, wind-free day as we motored back to La Paz after reattaching the boom and repairing the engine a final time.

Advertisements

Finally Exploring the Sea

This is what we came here for. Island hopping from one beautiful anchorage to the next, hiking, kayaking, snorkeling, combing the beaches and actually some sailing – we are finally doing what we thought we would be doing the whole time.

Now that we have a better grip on what we set out to do, what that requires in the long run and how to do what we enjoy while balancing our obligations to maintain our boat, we can enjoy this lifestyle a little more. It is so hard to see that when you are in the thick fog of learning something new and difficult. We knew we had a steep learning curve when we set out to live on our sailboat, but we couldn’t see the top of the curve until now. I’m not saying that we have learned everything we need to know or that we are now going to tackle an ocean crossing, but it is nice to know that we can at least handle ourselves cruising the Sea of Cortez. This entry covers a lot of info because it has been a while and we have seen a lot of new stuff while we were without internet.

We left the safe haven of La Paz on April 18 and stopped at only one familiar anchorage since then. On our first day we tried to unfurl our headsail, but it was caught and wouldn’t unroll. We had no idea why, but luckily, we left on the same day as our friend James on Pxis. We had been talking with him on the radio about our problem, and he offered to help. We stopped in a little anchorage where he rowed over to our boat and helped us tinker with our jib halyard (the rope or wire that holds up the front sail). He was awesome, identified the issue and had the tools and extra parts to fix it. That is what makes an amazing sailor and good cruising friend. There is no hesitation in helping your fellow cruisers. Thanks to James we were able to sail all the way to our next destination the next day – Isla San Francisco.

This was one of my favorite stops. It has a picturesque beach with great shells and an amazing hike taking you all along the ridgeline across the island. Tim and James did a lot of spear fishing at Isla San Francisco. James is a great hunter, and he was able to show Tim a lot of tips and tricks. Tim came home with a good size parrot fish – perfect for tacos. James gave us 1/8 of a huge pargo he shot, so between those two we had fish for days.

Hiking the ridge line at Isla San Fran

Me hiking the ridge with the 2 anchorages in the background.

The large bay at Isla San Francisco

Our next stop was just 2 miles north at Isla San Jose. This is a cool stop because there is a lagoon surrounded by mangroves that you can kayak or dingy through to the other side of the anchorage. However, no one warned us of how vicious the “no see ‘em” bugs are in the evening and night. We read about it later in our guidebook, but we stayed the night there, which we will never do again! We were eaten alive by these teeny-tiny-worse-than-mosquito bugs. Tim and I each had over 100 bites on our arms, legs and face. They itch worse than anything we have experienced, too. We would wake up in fits of scratching in the night for three nights. I couldn’t control myself and ended up scratching them off.

Kayaking through the mangroves at Isla San Jose

The beach was all river rocks and littered with starfish.

We ran away from that place in the morning, but I think we had bugs in our boat that we brought with us to San Everisto. I think we stopped here with Gary on our first trip down from Puerto Escondido when we first got the boat, but I can’t remember and it didn’t look familiar. I was not a huge fan of this spot. It had a little bity town and a hard-to-find store. We walked down the one road that took us over the hill to look at the salt ponds. It was pretty busy with fishing pangas (small Mexican boats), and we didn’t stay more than a night.

The small fishing village of San Everisto. There was a little store and tiny school with one dirt road cutting through the town.

Los Gatos, the anchorage just to the north, was much nicer. It has amazing red rock formations that were easy to hike around and explore. When we first arrived there a local fisherman who is well-known in the cruising community asked if we would like him to get us some lobster. Tim was excited to find them, too, and asked if Manuel would take him along. The guys went off lobster hunting and came back with a bundle. We traded a gallon of gasoline for five lobsters and Tim’s lobster hunting experience. I used the cooking books I borrowed from our cruising friend Brenda to figure out how to kill, clean and cook them. We ended up making a delicious lobster fettuccini alfredo for dinner.

Tim speared lobster with Manuel.

It got hot enough to swim in the late afternoon.

We made lobster fettucini alfredo with Tim and Manuel’s catch.

Hiking on the red rock formations at Gatos.

Red rocks at Gatos

Me and Tim hiking the red rock formations at Los Gatos. (Yes, Tim’s hair is getting very long.)

We headed to Agua Verde next, and stayed for a little while. We enjoyed how protected it was from the elements, and it was a larger anchorage with great water and a bit more to see. One hike went over a hill to a town cemetery, which was interesting to see. The town is cute and small, each yard lined with a homemade fence and their own version of landscaping. They had a great little store, too, where we bought some produce and popcorn, which I had missed up until then. Another hike on another day led us to the top of the outer-most point overlooking the sea and a large lone rock. On our last night in Agua Verde we went to the third beach to walk around and watch the sunset – which was stunning. There we met a group of guys who were on a spear fishing trip and had shot huge fish that week. They invited us for dinner and drinks at their camp.

A view from our hike of the north beach at Agua Verde.

Hiking Agua Verde

Enjoying the beach as we wait for the sunset.

The amazing sunset from the south beach at Agua Verde.

In the morning, we planned to head to Candeleros Chico – a little north facing anchorage midway to our next stop. Surprisingly, the wind picked up from the north that afternoon. We sailed upwind a bit, but decided not to stay in that spot and carry on to the next one where we might have more protection from the north wind. It was a longer day than expected and when we arrived in Honeymoon Cove, it was smaller than expected, and there was nowhere for us to anchor. I was really stressed out at this point. Tim did a great job worming us into a spot just south of there next to another boat. Tim actually got me to get in the water at this place. It was a small anchorage with reefs on both sides. I have not been real interested in snorkeling or getting in other than the occasional swim. I got all geared up in my wetsuit, fins, goggles and snorkel, and I took my sweet time easing into the water. I don’t really like the idea of ocean creatures that are all around me. We held hands and worked our way through one of the reefs. Not my finest hour. The next day we explored the beach a little bit. I forgot the camera, but we found a ton of shells, a dolphin that had been dead a while and a recently dead tarantula! That was enough for me to be ready to leave.

Me all geared up for snorkeling.

Tim taking a picture of me taking a picture of him under water.

Where we anchored south of Honeymoon Cove on Isla Danzante.

From there we hit up the two islands just north of Puerto Escondido – Isla Carmen and Isla Coronados. We had steady wind from the east all the way there, so we had an amazing day of sailing to Puerto Ballandra. We had a little difficulty anchoring here because there is a large underwater canyon that begins in the middle of the cove. Everyone has to anchor in a row to make sure they are on good holding ground. A nearly four-hour hike took us through the valley to overlook huge salt pond and another anchorage on the other side of the island. This was the longest hike we did. It was neat despite the insane amount of bugs in the beginning. They weren’t biters, just nat types. We also kayaked around the anchorage and explored the beach on the other side. We found a lot of cool shells and beautiful sea glass.

Sailing from Isla Danzante to Puerto Ballendra at Isla Carmen. We sailed all the way there with fairly steady wind and good speed.

A view of our boat at the beginning of our long hike across Isla Carmen.

I know we match, but the headbands really helped keep the sun and bugs off our heads while we hiked.

The huge salt pond view at the end of our journey.

I was very excited to go to Isla Coronados because there had been several whale sightings that week. I was on high alert the whole time we were there. This is a part of the Loreto National Parks system – as all of the islands are, but this was very well maintained and frequented by tourists from Loreto. We hiked around a little bit and enjoyed the white sand beaches and contrasting black volcanic rocks. This was a large anchorage with lots of boats in it when we arrived. Most, it seemed, were perched waiting for Loreto Fest in Puerto Escondido, just like us.

The well-defined hiking trail and our boat at Isla Coronados

The contrasting white sand beach and black lava rocks on the small beach at Isla Coronados.

The beach at Coronados had beautiful succulent plants covering the ground.

On our trek down from the islands we saw SO many dolphins (no whales though). Tim had the idea that they respond to happy people noises, so we began doing our best dolphin impressions. To our amazement, they can right over to the boat! We talked to them and heard them responding as they swam at the bow of our boat. It was one of the best experiences I have had out here. I was like a kid, just so amazed with nature. I posted a video of this on Facebook.

The dolphins swimming along with our boat.

We headed down to Loreto Fest, not really sure how we would anchor in Puerto Escondido because it was very crowded and moorings litter the bay. There is an area known as “the waiting room” outside the main heavily controlled bay. We did a lap in this very crowded spot and quickly realized there was no way to anchor there. We headed into the main bay to find plenty of room despite the hundred plus boats. Anchoring in there does require a daily fee, but I would rather be comfortable and safe and pay a little more.

Loreto Fest was a blast – I made a necklace, Tim took some fishing lessons, and best of all, we made new friends. We ended up scooting down to the anchorage just south of there and meeting up with our friends A.J. and Norma on No Problem and Chris and Anne Marie on Starship. They are also a young married couple who live aboard and are spending their first year in the Sea. We had a great time with them in Candeleros Bay anchored in front of a nice resort that shares its pool and bar with sailors. They showed us how to hunt for clams, so we cleaned them and cooked them on Starship. Tim had shot a Cabria, so we had them over for dinner. This was our last new stop and we really enjoyed ourselves.

Chris and Anne Marie from Starship at Loreto Fest.

The pool at he resort at Candeleros Bay.

We actually relaxed by the pool and felt like we on vacation for a couple of hours!

Tim finding clams in the sand.

Cooking and Eating clams. Anne Marie showed us how to clean them (dirty job) and Chris grilled them with a garlic, onion and butter sauce. Very delish!

Tim shot a Cabria (aka Grouper) for dinner.

When we left there, we just made nightly stops and kind of hurried back to La Paz, as time had crept up on us before we knew it. The last two hours of our trip back we finally saw what I had been looking for the whole trip — a whale! It was amazing to see something so huge. I didn’t get a good picture despite my incessant clicking, but it made an impression on us as we leave the sea for a while.

Now, we have to give notice to the boat yard that will haul us out, and we have a lot of work to do to shut her down. That brings us up to date. Today and tomorrow will be spent packing, cleaning and preparing to head back to the U.S. for a undetermined amount of time.

Tim’s Parents’ Visit

Steve and Debbie were not quite sure what they had signed up for when they decided to visit us in La Paz, but I think they were very pleasantly surprised. They had booked a hotel for the five nights they were here and left the option open to possibly stay on board the Luckiest. They only stayed in the hotel the first and last nights and stayed with us on the boat at the islands the other three nights.

We all had a wonderful time. Tim and I really enjoyed being able to share some of our experiences with family – especially at the islands – and it sounded like Debbie and Steve were enjoying it all. We got to show them the world of discovery we have been finding over the last few months.

We took them to the grocery store and the market the first day and headed out to the islands the next. We did get stopped by the Mexican Navy on our way out of the La Paz channel, but we had heard that they were friendly and courteous ambassadors that simply wanted to make sure nothing funny was going on. This was our first time being stopped, and machine guns always make me a bit nervous, but the troops really were pleasant and kind. One man boarded our boat while another four stayed on theirs. He asked to see our documentation, import permit, passports and if we had life jackets. Thanked us for our time and off they were. No big deal at all. I was glad it was just like we had heard.

As we got out to the channel, I convinced Tim to do a bit of sailing, even though we were making good time with the motor. Tim has decided he doesn’t like sailing too much, but I was able to get him to show Steve and Debbie some of the things we have been learning. We had a great smooth sail in about 10 knots of wind.

Our first stop was Candeleros Bay, which is one of our favorite anchorages because of the great hiking and the cool rock formations. We anchored there about an hour before dark. That night we all piled into our sad little deflating dinghy and zipped around in the dark water watching the bioluminescence glow. It is so magical looking and hard to describe without seeing it. we had a sparkling wake and as we would approach fish we could see them scatter surrounded by glowing plankton. It doesn’t get old seeing that. In the morning we all went up to the beach to do some hiking and exploring. We took Steve and Debbie up the center ridge just as we had done a couple weeks before. It’s great because we were able to get a great view of the bay without having to work too hard. We all went on a hike back into the valley. Steve did hurt his toe, but it was a easy-going hike other than that.

After lunch on the boat, we scooted over to Caleta Partida, a popular and well-protected spot. The winds had kicked up some, and Tim was feeling a bit adventurous, so we put up the sails at his insistence. I think we scared Debbie pretty good this time. We had Steve at the helm, just to give him a bit of a thrill as well, but I’m not sure he was quite ready to take on that task in those winds. We did some whipping back and forth (accidental tacking). We regained control, I took the helm and eased us into the anchorage. After we all settled down, Steve and Tim donned their wetsuits and went looking for some fish.

When they returned (no fish) we all decided to play cards and have something else for dinner. Little did we know that when the guys had returned from spear fishing, the dinghy was not properly secured to the boat, so before Tim and I tucked into bed (in the convertible dinette), he checked outside and we had no dinghy! It had floated off somewhere, and with light winds and lighter current, we knew it couldn’t be too far, but it was far too dark to see anything. This was pretty frustrating for Tim knowing he might be able to save it if he could see, but there was nothing we could do until the morning.

First thing in the morning we all hurried to eat and ready the boat to either go find the dinghy or head back in to La Paz. With no dinghy, there is no way off the boat, so our trip would have to be cut short. I was plotting ways to get a new dinghy and how we would get off the boat, etc. as we pulled up the anchor. Tim and Steve had binoculars on the bow and scouted to find it. It seemed unlikely because it had been missing for about 12 hours and the north winds had really kicked up in the night, which would have blown it out into the open sea. As we came out of the anchorage we checked one side along the shore and turned to head toward the other side. Then, shockingly, Tim spotted it! It had almost made it out of the large cove, but as it neared open sea the waves kept it pinned to the rocks.

Tim quickly suited up in his wet suit and I got him as close to the rocks as I could. He tossed our foam surfboard into the water and jumped in after it. We joked about his Seal Team Six dinghy rescue mission. He was great. He bailed it out, pumped it up, and paddled away from the rocks against the waves until we could pick him up. He was afraid the fuel had water in it, so he waited to replenish it before starting it up. We really were the Luckiest.

The rest of the trip had far less drama, thankfully. Our refrigerator did quit on us, but the food stayed cold enough for the whole trip. We made one more stop on the way back to La Paz – Bahia San Gabriel. This is where Tim and I had spent Christmas. It has a huge white sand beach, and Debbie was really enjoying looking for shells, so we spent lunch there before heading back.

We drove them back to the airport and they were wishing they had planned for more time to stay. Now we are regrouping before we head back to the states ourselves. We are taking the ferry across the sea on Sunday and driving back out to Galveston to join up with more family for the company cruise. Yes, we are leaving our boat on one side of the Mexican coast to go to a cruise on the other side of the Mexican coast. Kind of ironic, but it should be relaxing, which we both need.

After the cruise we are heading up to Austin, Dallas, Evergreen, Colo., and end in Corpus Christi for my dear friend’s wedding on March 3. From there we will head back to our boat here in La Paz. We feel like we are ready to cut strings in La Paz and head north into the sea as soon as we return. We shall see how it goes.

Exploring the rock ridge in Candeleros Bay.

 

Nice View

 

Tim and Steve off to spear hunt and snorkel.

Tim rescuing the dinghy.

 

Steve snorkeling in Caleta Partida

 

Debbie looking for treasures on the beach. She went home with loads of shells.

 

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

We headed out to the islands for holiday celebrations on Dec. 22 just before a strong northerly blew through the La Paz area. We knew we wanted to spend our holidays at the islands and would not be able to get out there during the north winds, so we cut out early and had a lovely time. We stayed on the boat for two entire days until the winds subsided on Christmas day.

We decorated our tiny tree with glitter covered sea shells, made a Christmas feast and opened presents before a stroll along the white sand beach of Bahia San Gabriel. We did miss our families a lot, but luckily still had phone reception to give them a call.

We spent the last 10 days exploring the anchorages that we had not seen yet and found some new favorites. We tucked into Candleros Bay and found some incredible hiking up the center ridge-line and down into the valley. We stayed there for a few days and watched tourist camps come in and out. We moved up to Ensenada Grande – on the north side of Isla Partida. This is a busy anchorage with tourists, divers and fishermen. This is where Tim shot his very first fish with his spear gun. He hunted it along the rocks nearby and brought it home for dinner. It, unfortunately, was very boney and tough to fillet, but we tried.

One night we were catching up on Season 2 of Friends and heard a loud splash outside. Tim went to investigate and found sea lions feeding all around our boat! It was so neat because as they swam around, they stirred up the bioluminescent plankton and created glowing streams of water and splashes all around. We grabbed our bright spotlight, and when we saw a grouping of glowing movement we flashed the light in their direction. All the sea lions would look at us surprised and scatter. It was great fun, and we all played this little game for about an hour.

We scooted up to the very northern rocks that have a colony of sea lions called Los Islotes. This is a huge tourist hot spot, so pongas (little power boats) full of divers and snorkelers were surrounding the island. The water there is about 65-feet deep and very rocky bottom, so we opted not to anchor and just do a loop to take a look at the activity. We anchored in a very large anchorage called Cordonal. This spot was cool because it nearly cuts the northern island in half, so you can take a very easy stroll to the east side of the island, which we did. We were confronted with the vastness of the Sea of Cortez on that side. It made me wonder if we will ever be ready to cross it.

From this anchorage we heard our friends from Matilda on the radio, but we couldn’t see them. Turns out, they were in the same place – Cordoncito – that we had waited out the last northerly with them. This is a little cove just next door to where we were, so we moved over there to join Hayden and his friends aboard, Megan, Andy and Emily. Another boat and close friends of Hayden, Pyxis with James and Eva, was there. We three boats decided to stay here and have a little party to kick off the new year. It was perfect. Everyone brought over food including the fish Hayden had shot earlier that day, and I helped fillet. We had dinner and drinks and shot off expired flares at midnight!

We also drove around to the anchorage next door and had amazing views of the glowing bioluminescence. It is unlike anything I have seen before. Our dinghies had glowing, sparkling tails as we whizzed around in the dark. Just amazing.

We returned to La Paz yesterday with sails up all the way to tend to boat maintenance and await the arrival of Tim’s parents. We are so excited to share our discoveries with them!

Heading out to the islands.

We made shells into ornaments, and I wanted to cover them all in glitter.

Ta da! Our tree covered in homemade shell ornaments.

Tim is carving our Christmas ham. We had green bean casserole, cheddar potatoes, ham and a chocolate cake for dessert.

Christmas day walking on the beach. Yes, Tim's hair is getting long.

Hiking the ridge in Candleros bay.

Working our way through the rocky valley in Candleros.

We found these amazing red rock caves.

There is a well in Candleros that travelers can use for showers.

The view from our hike in Ensenada Grande.

Tim's first spear catch. It doesn't look like much, but he could feed us.

Me filleting Hayden's fish for New Year's Eve dinner.

New Year's party on the Luckiest.

One of the best sunsets yet.

The Islands

To get ourselves out of our little funk of thinking “What did we do?” we headed out to the nearby islands to regroup and do what we came to do. We wanted to remind ourselves why we were here instead of getting trapped in the daily grind in La Paz.

We got a bit of a late start heading out of the bay, but we were determined to go. We motored out of the long channel that leads into La Paz Bay and we hoisted the sails. We sailed for about one hour in very light winds before we realized we wouldn’t make it to the anchorage before dark if we didn’t motor. We started the “iron sail” and did some motor sailing with our head sail out for a little extra speed all the way into Bahia San Gabriel. This was kind of wide open to one side with a big white sand beach and an old pearl fishery I was exited to see. When we arrived it was perfectly still and we anchored just in time to see the sun set. We watched the starts over calm water before we tucked in very early.

What do you know, but the wind shifts from the north to the southwest blasting us into a lee shore all night long. A lee shore is when your boat is being blown to land instead of sea… not good. The anchorage was wide open to these “nighttime corumels,” as they call them, and wind and waves had us up all night long. I slept in the dinette so I could see better and get away from some of the movement. We were making sure we didn’t drag anchor all night. I actually had a dream that we did drag and we ended up right on top of a friend’s boat holding off the damage with my feet. Then I woke up and found we had drug and it looked like we were in Puerto Escondido and once again I was holding the boat off a wall of  mud and muck with my hands and feet. Then I woke up again and found we were exactly in the same spot we had anchored. Yup, I had a dream within a dream – Inception style.

Anyway, by the time the sun came up we were so ready to get out of there, we didn’t explore at all and high tailed it toward Caleta Partida, a well protected anchorage just north of the island we were on. I forgot to mention that our refrigerator stopped working while we were anchored, and we were pretty bummed. Turns out it was just a fuse, and we had it onboard. We finally fixed something! We thought it would be nice, since the waves calmed down on our way, to stop at a small cove just before we reached Partida. We wanted to have lunch and walk around a bit before we anchored for the night. We had a lovely and relaxing afternoon and really started to feel better about being out there. We met a couple who were kayaking around the islands and camping on the beach – wow, they are adventurous.

So we decided to head over to Partida and have plenty of time to anchor before dark. We got into positions – Tim at the helm and me ready to push the anchor windlass button that brings up the 44 lb. anchor and 100+ feet of chain – and nothing. Nothing happened. It is broken. We fumble around for a little bit trying to find the problem or a reasonable solution. We switch places and Tim has to muscle it all up.

We make it to Partida ready for a calm few nights. It was rather crowded so we had to anchor a couple of times to feel like we were in a good spot. This would normally not be a big deal, but with a broken windlass it made for an exhausting evening for Tim. We were happy to be settled for a while.

We finally got to have an enjoyable and relaxing time out at the islands. We explored around the outskirts in our dinghy and ran into some friends. We joined them for snorkeling and spear fishing and were happy to be doing what we thought we would be doing every day. Hayden speared a decent size fish and he and Irene came over to eat it. That’s what it is all about. We also got to hike to the top of the ridge, find the nearby sea caves and sleep soundly. Caleta Partida was good to us.

We knew a Northerly was about to blow through the area real hard, so we did a little exploring to find a nice calm spot (and to check out the nearby blue footed booby colony). We ended up tucking into a really small cove called Cordoncito next to our new friends on Matilda. The winds were very strong and we had some sleepless nights, but generally it was not too bad. We still got to explore, hike and snorkel in the daytime, so we were happy. I even got a day alone doing yoga on the beach – pure bliss. Tim, Hayden and Irene did some spear fishing, and Hayden shot something every day. One day gave us a little fish to practice gutting and cooking it. The funny part is that he was still alive and we had no idea how to kill him. Tim tried beating it, and nothing. It was kinda sad, but he ended up gutting and filleting it, and we had fish tacos.

We spend our last night there having delicious fish tacos on Matilda prepared perfectly by Hayden and Irene. As the weather subsided we headed back into La Paz to get some work done.

On the way out there.

Lunch stop and hike

Hiking El Mesteño

Spear fishing the reef in Caleta Partida.

Top of the ridge at Caleta Partida. Our boat is in the middle.

 

They are heading out to spear some fish

 

So how do you eat this thing?

 

See our boats in El Cordoncito

 

Back to the dinghy

Well, the Sunsets are Nice

I’m catching up a bit because I had no internet access for nine days. This is from Nov. 30, 2011.

So far, we are really enjoying the beautiful orange sunsets lined with palm trees on the horizon… and that’s about it.

We have been working non-stop on this boat and feeling like we are getting nowhere. As soon as we finish a project, something else breaks or pops up. It’s not all sunsets and margaritas. In fact, we are having trouble finding a good margarita at all. I’m starting to think margaritas were invented by a Mexican in Texas.

I was laughing to my sister about how it seems that living on a boat might be really good preparation for motherhood: If you hear a strange noise, you have to check it out no matter what you are doing day or night. It also requires constant attention to detail and all the patience you can muster.

There are so many aspects that have been challenging – we have moved where we don’t know the language, where to buy parts or get service or how to fix what’s broken. It also seems like if a projects seems easy and everyone says it’s a breeze, for some reason it won’t be. Oil change – no big deal, right? One week later and we still have no clue and are tired of getting covered in oil. It has been hard to stay positive about everything and enjoy our surroundings. We both have had days where we just wish we were back home. The trick there is that one of us freaks out while the other stays calm and holds on to the idea of adventure, and then we trade. This is fun, right? I guess we have to remember that we decided to take on an enormous learning curve that will hopefully start to round off soon.

We finally drew a line in the sand and decided no matter what the projects on our list are, we were going to head out to the nearby islands and try to enjoy ourselves. So we are headed out today to find the reason we left everything comfortable and easy to challenge ourselves and move out here.

Day by Day

A typical day aboard The Luckiest: We wake up as the sun makes its way up around 6:30 a.m. and are out of bed by 7 a.m. We make coffee and eat something for breakfast while we give ourselves time to realize we are still on a boat in Mexico. At 8 a.m. the local Net comes on the VHS radio. There is a format followed every day, except Sunday, that the net controller handles. It is a great forum for announcements, trades, news, weather, tides and other useful information. I volunteered to help organize an order for Mexican Navy Charts (navigational paper maps), so I have been announcing it every day on the Net. After listening to the Net, we get ready and load up our dinghy with any trash or maybe a water or gas jug to fill. We strap on a backpack (always take a backpack into town) and head in for morning coffee. It takes about 5 – 7 minutes to ride in from our boat to the dinghy dock at Marina de La Paz. We chit-chat at coffee with lots of cruisers who have found themselves here in La Paz for now. It’s a great time to get advice on projects we might be considering or already doing. Then we usually run whatever errands we have planned for the day including dropping off trash, getting drinking water or gasoline, grocery shopping and looking at the 4 marine stores for parts that we need to work on the boat. Whatever we buy ideally fits in the backpack. We then head back to the boat and work. Currently on the anchor chain and chain locker.

Luckily, we had a friend allow us to use his slip in the marina while his boat is being repainted, so we are able to accomplish a lot of projects that would otherwise be very challenging at anchor. Tim and I removed all the 300+ feet of chain from our boat, measured it out and marked every 20 feet. We had to cut some bad chain off and splice the good stuff together. We are planning to put it all back where it goes today so we can get back out on our anchor. We also have to replace our “spreader boots.” This is not very expensive, but it does require Tim to go high up on the mast. The spreader is the cross-bar on the mast that holds the rigging wires away from the mast. These have to have bumper pads on the ends so they do not rip the sails. Ours were kind of a mess (see below). We are being very productive because we have such a short time here in the marina to get stuff done. Also, so we can get our boat ready to sail! Jasna and Rick are getting ready to leave La Paz for a while, so we want to get a sailing lesson in with them next week before they go. We are so looking forward to a day or two out with the wind.

Our back porch at anchor

Dinner with Jasna and Rick on their boat

Cooking Enchiladas Verdes at home

Moving the boat into the slip for repairs

 

Working on the anchor chain

Measuring chain on the dock

 

Tim hoisted on the mast to replace the spreader boots

Some things I have been taking for granted in the U.S.:

Unlimited internet access, Long warm showers, air conditioning, watching TV at night before bed, a microwave, knowing the language, dishwasher, pizza delivery

Not Exactly Sailing

Well we are working our way slowly but surely down the Baja. We have had ZERO wind, so we are motoring the whole way. This is much less fun than actually sailing, but it is real world. Gary said we will spend like 50% of the time motoring and 50% sailing. We have learned a lot of other things about life aboard, though. Really, the sailing part is the easy part. It is re-learning how to use the bathroom, how to cook, how to monitor your engine, etc. There is SO much to learn.

We are also learning how to explore these anchorages we are stopping at. Those are really the best part. When we arrive we anchor, which has been a real pain so far. It shouldn’t be, but our anchor chain is very rusty and the locker seems too small for the chain, so it has proved a bit challenging. We have plans to change it so that it will be more efficient. Right now we would have a very hard time anchoring without Gary onboard, but unfortunately we can’t keep him.

 

In our "new car" aka the dinghy

 

The anchorages have been pretty amazing. We just tuck in somewhere you wouldn’t even know existed, and go exploring. The water has been clear down a good 30 – 40 feet. We did a bit of snorkeling in San Everisto and Calita Partida on a little island across from La Paz. We decided to swim across to the shore today… turned out to be a little longer than re really wanted to swim back. We made it all the way to shore and walked about a mile around the anchorage just looking at crabs and birds and all the critters that the ocean has to offer. It was really nice to get a little alone time with Tim, too. We have been so busy learning and soaking up all the things Gary has to tell us, we really haven’t just enjoyed each other too much. Until today, which was very nice.

 

Exploring Calida Partida

 

We finally got so thirsty we decided to turn around because we knew we still had quite a swim ahead of us. We walked all the way back to our point of entry and began walking into the water. Right as we got to where we had to start swimming I noticed a young guy in his nice motor dinghy heading our direction. I was secretly hoping he was coming to get us so I didn’t have to swim all that way again, only this time against the wind. Low and behold, he did! He was heading to us thinking we wouldn’t want to swim that, and he was so right. Raul was a crewmember on the boat next store and we were so grateful for him sweeping in to get us. He dropped us off and said he would be right back with some more fish. Turns out he had caught a bunch of fish he had cooked and they had to much, so he brought over three delicious grilled fish and a wonderful prepared salad. It was one of those perfectly timed gifts of a dinghy ride and dinner. Two things we needed right then. Thank you Raul.

Tomorrow we will arrive in La Paz. That means the real work begins: paperwork for our vessel, connect online and pay some bills, get back to work designing and, of course, all the repairs on the boat. Looks like we will be camping in La Paz a little while until we can get our act together.

Setting Sail Tomorrow

And not today because you never leave on a trip on a Friday in the sailing community. Today we learned a lot, some good things, some bad things. But I suppose learning is always good.

Tim and I went into town to get a few more items before we take off including some gasoline and oil to use our Honda generator, a few more food items, drinking water and some money.

Gary stayed behind on the boat to run the engine to repower up our batteries, which unfortunately took longer than we expected. Gary was able to track the progress on the charging cycle, so when we got back we had an amp hours lesson. We have to be very careful not to overuse our batteries. We will likely be a couple of power hogs onboard, but as long as we balance our usage out, it should be OK.

We also talked about maintaining the bottom of the boat. We will likely need to get some sort of diving gear, something simple and cheap if we can. That way Tim can go down and scrape the barnacles off the bottom of the boat and clean the rotor and propeller. It’s quite a job that will take several days once a month. Gary also said if Tim doesn’t mind that work, he could easily charge other cruisers a dollar a foot (our boat would be $35) for the service on their boat. It could give us a few more “cruising chips” here and there.

Some other things we learned were not so fun. Since we have been sitting here on a mooring at this little marina in Puerto Escandido we have been using up water and power, etc. We decided to fill up our water tanks and our “jerry cans” with diesel before we take off. We sat at the dock filling our water tanks. We notice it seems to be taking a long time to fill up our port side tank. We begin to wonder how big it really is and joke about it filling our boat. Tim gets down inside the boat and starts looking and listening for leaks inside. And there it was. Filling up our bilge, the lower belly of the boat. That is what the bilge is for – catching leaks, but we were just pouring water into it. So we found out two VERY important things from this: our water tank has a pretty big leak, and our automatic bilge pump to remove the water, doesn’t work. Interesting. Well the pump does work if you turn it on, but not automatically if there is a leak. This will have to be fixed immediately when we get to La Paz, and based on the amount of water we were using on board, I would say we will want to fix our water tank too. What is that saying… BOAT stands for Break Out Another Thousand. Yup, we are experiencing a bit of that. But we are very happy to have figured these problems out right away, especially while Gary is on board to tell us what to do.

I can’t imagine ever trying to start this life at sea with no help or guidance. You would have to have a captain Ron or ease into the whole idea for years, which I suppose is the more practical way of going about this.

Arriving in Puerto Escandido

We made it to our destination! All the traveling to get here went pretty much as planned. We left Durango as early as possible and made it to our friend Gary’s in Copala a bit early. We gained an hour and didn’t realize it, so that really helped in the long run. We were able to tour his wonderful little home with the best view in Copala. We headed down to Mazatlan to catch the ferry. We were on the ferry for 18 hours including loading and unloading. It took a little getting used to the motion, but we were so tired from all the traveling that we just crashed. We napped for a couple hours, woke up for a couple more and went back to sleep. The ferry was nothing like the pictures online. I don’t know why I thought it would be… This is Mexico. It was a very small everywhere. There was a tiny cafeteria and “lounge” area with a ton of small recliners for people to sleep who did not have a cabin. Luckily we got a cabin. It wasn’t much to speak of, but it had a door, 3 tiny beds and a sink.

When we arrived in La Paz we and the car had to endure some light searching before we headed out to visit Shelly and Mike with La Paz yachts. They squared away some paperwork for us and let the sellers, Doug and Ann, know we were heading that way. We took a little longer than we should for lunch and visiting, so we knew we would be to our boat after sunset. A big no-no in Mexico. Tim “drove us into the land of no return” into the mountains in the dark. Although it wasn’t as bad as I expected like everything else down here.

We got to the dock to find the ponga (little boat) to take us out to the boat for our first night on it. We were driving around and around and the man began flashing his big spotlight on every boat to see which one we were to board, and none of them were it! I was thinking “Oh great it was stolen or floated away before we could get here! Of course I am a bit dramatic. We found it, boarded it and all was fine. Gary showed us how to turn on the lights. we poked around with what we could in the dark before we were so tired. Gary slept in the cockpit (outside near the wheel), which is a common practice for cruisers on a warm night. Tim slept on top of the cabin, a little less common, but had more breeze to keep cool, and I slept in the V-berth with the fan on blast. It was a pretty decent night of sleep except for my dream that we were just about to hit the trimaran in front of us.

Pictures are on their way… it is tough to get enough service to publish images.