Shamu, Is that You?

We left San Evaristo yesterday afternoon headed to Puerto Los Gatos, about 20 miles north up the Baja coast in the Sea of Cortez. Because we were in the San Jose Channel, between the Baja peninsula and Isla San Jose, a large island, there wasn’t a lot of wind for our sail north. We left in the afternoon and needed to make the anchorage before it got dark, so we were motoring along at about 5 kts.

We had only gone a few miles when I heard us being hailed on the VHF radio. It was our friends on Allora, who we hadn’t seen since they left La Paz in early June. They had traveled north up into the Sea and were now headed back south toward Puerto Vallarta. I picked up the radio and heard Diana say “Look to starboard and wave.” I got the binoculars out and saw a sailboat a few miles away across the channel near the coast of Isla San Jose. Allora had spotted us on the AIS.

For non-boaters… AIS is a system where you can transmit and receive information about other boats nearby. Not every boat has AIS, but all of the commercial boats do. It is especially helpful when sailing at night and you can pick up a boat nearby. It will tell you the boat name, length, speed and direction, so you can tell if you are on a collision course and need to alter course. It is a very helpful tool and something we installed before we left California. So, Allora had seen us pop up on AIS.

I chatted with Diana for a few minutes and wished them well. We were both sorry that we were passing each other and would not be able to get together in an anchorage. We’re hoping that we may catch up with them at the end of the year on the mainland side of Mexico when we will both be traveling south.

I had only signed off the VHF for less than a minute when Diana excitedly hailed us back. “There are killer whales right by the boat!” she exclaimed. Mike and I both got really excited, because we have never seen killer whales while out sailing. We saw Allora suddenly do a 360 and were speeding back up the coast at 9 kts (faster than Adagio can do…). We heard from Allora that the killer whales were chasing a dolphin and they were following, struggling to keep up.

They were a few miles away from us, but we decided we had time, so we altered course and started heading toward Isla San Jose to intercept Allora. After a few minutes we saw Allora basically stop and Marcus came on the radio to say they were pretty sure that the whales caught the dolphin and now they were just playing around their boat. I know it is the circle of life and all, but I’m a bit glad I didn’t see that part. I would have been rooting for the dolphin.

We got closer to Allora and could see the whales just off their stern through the binoculars. As we approached we heard Allora yell “they’re coming right toward you.” Sure enough the killer whales came right toward us. I was racing up to the bow with my GoPro while Mike was at the helm when one breached not ten feet away from us. It was fantastic! They were now heading behind us, so we quickly turned around to follow. We saw the whales ahead of us, when they turned back toward Adagio and came right at us again. Three of them came directly toward the starboard side just below the surface and dove down right before they got to the hull. Mike swears one of them turned to the side and looked up at him just before he went down. Unbelievable.

Both boats tried following them, but they had gone under and we appeared to have lost them. After a few minutes, we said goodbye to Allora and headed north as they turned south. We had gone about a mile when we saw the orcas in front of us again. There was one off our starboard side and two off port. I was at the bow again with the video camera trying to get the perfect shot. The whales started for our boat from both directions. I had my camera trained on the starboard side and caught him diving down under the boat right as Mike yelled “over there!” I whipped my camera around as the two on port breached right next to the boat and dove under. They were seriously close enough to reach out and touch them! We’ve never had any kind of whale play around the boat before, but dolphins do it all the time. These whales reminded me of giant dolphins! They were huge though and absolutely beautiful. I can’t wait to clip together the video. I know it won’t do the experience justice (it never does), but I still want to share it.

Orca Still

Once we got to the tip of San Jose the wind finally picked up. We pulled out the sails and turned off the diesel. We had a beautiful sail to Puerto Los Gatos and got in the anchorage just before the sun dipped down beneath the horizon. We’re excited to go out and explore this beautiful place that is full of reefs and stunning red rock faces. We will probably be here a few days before heading to Bahia Agua Verde.

~katie

The One (or Two) that Got Away

So, Mike told me I had to write this blog post, because apparently fishermen are known for telling “tall tales.” As a witness to our Mike’s fishing experience today, my description will hopefully be unbiased (for whatever that is worth!).

Before I tell you what happened today, I have to give a little background. I do not have much fishing experience. Most of my experience fishing has been reeling in the trolling lines we set out when sailing or trying to learn how to “jig” when we go fishing in the dinghy. Mike, on the other hand, has been fishing for a long time. He would often go out on 3 or 4 day fishing charters out of San Diego, where he would inevitably come back with more fish than my freezer could hold. Whenever he hooks up on a fish, he’ll say “it’s a yellowtail” or “it’s just a skippy (skipjack)”. I’ll look over the side searching the water to see the fish and when I realize it is still down pretty deep, I’ll turn to him and ask, incredulously, “how to do you know?”. He’ll always say “I can just tell.” I’m still amazed when he pulls up the fish he knew it would be.

We pulled into San Evaristo on Friday and anchored in about 15 feet of water. There was just one other sailboat anchored here and several fishing pangas along the shoreline. San Evaristo is a small fishing village with about 20 full time families that live here. The fishing pangas come and go during the day dropping off their catch to be sold in larger markets like La Paz. We walked around the little town the first day and found the only store here that we assume gets some produce in once a week. Unfortunately, when we were arrived at the end of the week, all that was left on the floor were a few boxes of rotting fruits and vegetables. They have some other staples like canned goods, but they look like they had been there for some time. There are a few homes and lean-to huts that dot the shoreline, as well as a small desalination plant where the locals get their fresh water. The large Sierra Gigante mountains create the dramatic backdrop around the bay. It is sparse, unspoiled and beautiful.

Before our fishing adventure, we decided to snorkel around the rocky points in the bay. The numbers of fish and variety were spectacular. We saw lots of angelfish, damselfish, wrasses, triggerfish, and a school of juvenile jacks. The visibility was only 15-20 feet, and we wish it had been better, but it did not ruin the amazing time we had snorkeling. Mike set out to try and find clams which we read we could find down in the sandy bottoms of the harbors. The most popular clams in the Sea are called chocolates (choc-o-la-tays). After diving down quite a few times and digging around in the sand, he came up short. But, he found really large scallops on the rocks about 15 feet down. Because the only scallops we have had came from a restaurant or bought from the fish market, we took one as a test case. We had a book that showed how to clean the scallop, and after somewhat butchering it, we were able to pull the meat out. We cooked it in a little butter and garlic, and it was sweet and delicious. We might have to go back for more!

After the snorkeling adventure, we set out in the dinghy to do some fishing. The snapper that we previously caught was delicious and fed us for a few nights, but we were after some more fish! We started fishing around one of the rocky points leading out of the bay. After a few tries, Mike’s line went “zing!” The reel kept pulling and pulling as I was quickly reeling mine in as fast as possible to get it out of the way. Mike was yelling “look at him run” as we realized that the fish was pulling our 10 foot dinghy out to sea! And, just as quickly as it happened, it ended. The darn thing bit through his line and took the lure with it. We both looked at each other and said “what was that?!”

We continued fishing down the coastline and periodically mentioned the crazy fish that we almost caught, still trying to guess at what could have pulled our dinghy like that. After a couple of hours of only pulling in a couple of triggerfish and needlefish (all of which we let swim on), we decided to start to head back to the boat. As we came up on the rocky point where the monster fish stole our lure in the beginning, we decided to try a little longer before calling it a day. Just as I was starting to say that all of the fish must have gone home, Mike’s reel “zinged” again. We were once again on a wild ride where the fish was pulling the dinghy as it pulled Mike’s line out of the reel. We had recently watched the movie In the Heart of the Sea (the basis for Moby Dick) and I couldn’t help but think of the scene where they harpooned the whale and it was towing their small boat.

I was scrambling to get my GoPro out of my bag to catch the whole thing on video as we were flying along towed by the fish, and then suddenly there was a huge splash on the surface in the direction we were headed. The splash was at least as big as our 10 ft dinghy. Mike and I both screamed “Woah!” at the same time. Mike was standing up at the bow of the dinghy trying to keep the pressure on the beast, as I was at the outboard getting ready to put the boat in gear if this fish decided to try and take us into the rocks. And, just like the last time, suddenly he was gone. Spit the hook. Mike was yelling all kinds of obscenities as I was wide eyed trying to just process what the hell kind of fish was on the end of that line! Whatever it was, we obviously wouldn’t have pulled it into the dinghy. But, I know Mike wanted the satisfaction of reeling it in. And, we both want to know “what the hell was that?!” We don’t have any really good guesses. There are lots of large marlin in the Sea, but they are top feeders and we were jigging on the bottom. Maybe a large grouper? Seems hard to believe. Any good guesses?

Anyway, it was a fun day and left us with a good story to tell. Mike says it was definitely the largest fish he’s ever hooked, and I know he’s pulled in some big ones. We’re going to lovingly refer to the monster as Moby Dick. Seems appropriate.

Our next stop is going to be Puerto Los Gatos. So, we will update you on the next leg of our adventure from there.

~katie

Isla Partida and Isla San Francisco

As you last heard from Mike, we left La Paz and anchored in Ensenada Grande on Isla Partida a week ago. When you leave La Paz and cross the San Lorenzo Channel, the first island you come to is Isla Espiritu Santo, which is part of the National Park System in Mexico. (We got annual park passes while we were in La Paz.) Espiritu Santo has beautiful red rock faces that show the striations that formed due to the movement of the tectonic plates. It is quite beautiful. We decided not to stop at Espiritu Santo because most of the anchorages do not afford protection from the strong summer southerly winds. We intend to go back to the island when we head back south later in the year when the winds shift to the north.

Isla Partida is the next island north of Espiritu Santo and much smaller. We pulled into Ensenada Grande, one of the larger anchorages. Just as the sun was setting, we were treated to a show of mobula rays jumping in the air. They are so fun to watch, and I got some great pictures. After relaxing the next day, we were treated to another show the second night. The water was full of bio luminescence. It looked like fireflies darting around in the water. Mike dropped a line over the rail to trail through the water, which made it look like fireworks were going off. So cool! And, the night was so clear with just a sliver of a moon that we could even see the Milky Way. It was pretty special to sit out on the deck at night and experience all the beauty in the dark.

Version 2

The next day we dropped the paddle boards in the water to go exploring. Ensenada Grande has three lobes or fingers of the entrance to the anchorage, and we paddled around them all to check out the beaches and see what other sea life we could find. Because it is so close to La Paz, and because it was the weekend, the anchorage and beaches were pretty crowded with local people renting boats to come enjoy the water. We were also a bit disappointed in the visibility, as the water is pretty green. Apparently there is an algae bloom happening that generally occurs when the water starts to get warmer. We were told that it is really late in the season for this to happen, but that the visibility should start to get better later in the summer and as we head north into the sea. So, we didn’t really do any snorkeling or diving here.

On our way paddling back to the boat, we saw some other folks returning to their sailboat in their dinghy. We paddled over to say hello and introduce ourselves. Cruisers are pretty friendly people and always interested to hear the stories of other cruisers! We met a really nice couple who have been cruising around the world for the last 13 years! Impressive. They had two friends on board who were guests for a couple of weeks. They were curious about our paddle boards, and we let them try them out and they then invited us aboard to hang out.

We decided the next day to head further north to another island called Isla San Francisco. But, first we stopped at some rock out croppings called Los Islotes off the northern tip of Isla Partida. Los Islotes is home to a sea lion rookery. You could see and hear the sea lions barking up a storm, and I got lots of pictures of the babies on the island. Meanwhile, Mike wanted to see if there was any good fishing off the islands. He caught a skipjack and a bonito, which lived to swim another day because those fish are not on our dinner menu.

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After Los Islotes, we headed for Isla San Francisco, about 20 miles away. The water was unfortunately dead calm, and we had to motor. We did see a couple of large sea turtles and a pod of pilot whales! When we got to Isla San Francisco, we decided to anchor in the smaller anchorage on the east side, as it looked more protected from the southerly winds that usually come up at night. However, we did not anticipate a large easterly swell that came through in the middle of the night, making it a very rolly and uncomfortable night. After anchoring, we put on some fins and swam to shore. The shore was pretty rocky, with a lot of small red rocks rather than powdery sand. Supposedly, there are a lot of agates on the beach that you can collect. We looked around for a while, but we didn’t really know what we were looking for.

We decided to hike over the dunes and the salt flats to the other side of the island that has a southwesterly facing anchorage. We spotted our neighbors from Ensenada Grande as well as another boat we met back in May when we were in Bahia Los Frailes. Despite the anchorage being open to the south, it looked calmer than our anchorage, so the next morning, we picked up the anchor and moved to the other side of the island. We spent the day pretty much relaxing inside the boat as we were both on sun overload! Even with lots of sunscreen, hats, long sleeve shirts, etc., it is easy to over do it and need a day out of the strong sun here.

One of the boats invited us to a bonfire on shore that evening. Their three kids had worked hard collecting what little wood there is on this desert island and got a pretty decent fire going on the beach. They invited all the boats anchored in the bay, and about 20 people showed up. Several of the boats had kids & teenagers aboard, and they all seemed to get along. One of them even played the ukulele for us. It was really fun talking to everyone of various nationalities. We always seem to find a lot in common with other boaters! The wind kicked up pretty good while we were all hanging at the bonfire, and all of the dinghies had a bit of a challenge getting off the steep beach and through the surf. Even though it was probably 1 am by the time we got back to the boat, we all agreed it was a great time.

We decided to try and do some fishing the next day, but we got a bit of a late start since we were up so late the night before. We put the dinghy in the water and headed out around the island. We caught several triggerfish, which are really beautiful fish. They are a roundish fish with beaks like a parrotfish. They have a lot of blue shimmery color on them. We heard that the locals eat them, but they really aren’t that big. We just weren’t sure if we wanted to go to the trouble of filleting these little fish, so they got to swim on. But, the highlight of the fishing trip was a show that a marlin put on right in front of our dinghy launching himself up in the air about 10 times. I had never seen anything like it! Awesome!

After we got back from fishing, we got an invite to a pot luck on another boat. A fishing boat had given them a bunch of marlin, and they offered to share it with us and another boat. We had a delicious meal, drank some wine, told some stories, and had another late night. But, it is all good!

We weren’t quite satisfied with our fishing expedition yesterday, so this morning we got up early (well, earlier) and decided to go a bit further out to and island called Isla Coyote on the northern end of Isla San Francisco, which has some rocks surrounding it that we thought looked good for fishing. Mike reeled in a huge snapper! We deduced from our fish cheat sheet that it was a greenbar snapper. We’re estimating it was about 20 lbs. That was enough for our freezer, so we headed back to the boat. After Mike finished cleaning the fish we shared some with our neighbor. I am really looking forward to some snapper fish tacos for dinner tonight!

We’re in the process of making a plan for our next destination, so we will keep you all posted.

~Katie

Update from Ensenada Grande

We have finally left La Paz and are now anchored in a gorgeous spot called Ensenada Grande. The water is flat calm, the boat is anchored in about 20 feet of water and we are surrounded by beautiful red rock rising out of the sea. The water is about 77 degrees which is perfect for cooling off in the heat of the day.

We have spent one full day here and we spent it by first sleeping in mainly because we were tired. The night before was a bit restless because we had a power boat come in late at night and anchor uncomfortably close to us especially when the wind picked up at around midnight. We have an Ipad application called Anchor Watch that sounds an alarm when the GPS location of our boat moves out of an identified boundary. Well the alarm went off at about 1 am indicating that the wind had shifted causing our anchor to drag a bit and then re-set itself. As a result we were now only about 100 feet away from this power boat and the wind was still blowing around 17 to 20 knots. The anchor was holding so I re-set the boundary for 50 feet and then went back to bed but didn’t sleep much. Not much fun but all part of the adventure. In the end the anchor held and we enjoyed a great day in this beautiful spot.

After getting a late start because of sleeping in we decide to just spend most of the day lounging in the cockpit reading and relaxing. I did a little bit of work cleaning the water line and the propeller and a few barnacles that had attached themselves to the hull.

It was so nice to spend a day relaxing after all of the work that we did for the past six weeks in La Paz upgrading the boat. Here is a list of the things we accomplished while we were there.

–Installed the new water maker
–Installed a 37 gallon fuel bladder that will allow us to carry more diesel fuel and extend our motoring range without having to store jugs of fuel on the deck of the boat.
–Made new screens for the opening ports and companionway to keep the bugs out and allow the breeze to blow through.
–Installed dinghy wheels that will make it easier to haul the dinghy up the beach when exploring new beaches.
–Re-plumbed the electric and manual bilge pumps and added a secondary backup electric bilge pump.
–Added new custom swim ladder. We paid someone to do this one for us and it turned out great.
–Fixed the SSB radio that I reported earlier had smoke coming out of it when I turned it on. Turns out the remote power switch was the
culprit so the technician just bypassed it. Now it turns on immediately when we turn on the switch at the electrical panel.
–Waxed the hull above the water line.
–Applied a fresh coat of water sealant to all of our external teak.
–Installed a new bilge alarm
–Installed new cabin fans in our cabin and the forward cabin.
–Fixed the boom vang mount that broke on our way down to Cabo from Newport Beach.
–Fixed the roller furling for our yankee jib by drilling and tapping some new holes and adding new screws.
–Added new shelves in one of our hanging lockers and the battery compartment.

So as you can tell we were very busy in La Paz much like we were in San Jose.

Working every day on boat projects is definitely not what we came here for. However, there are some pluses to time spent on boat projects. Self sufficiency
o There is for me a great deal of satisfaction and peace of mind that comes with the work it takes to know your ship and all its systems
Learning opportunities
o There is always something new to learn. This then gives you the ability to help someone else later on and pass on your knowledge.
Attitude check
o The work isn’t always fun when you’re in the middle of it. There is a saying that is actually on the back of my t-shirt as I
sit here writing this (“Attitude” the difference between an Ordeal and an Adventure).

When I look at the above list of projects, it seems like we should have been able to get these things done in just a couple of weeks. I am reminded though that some of the time was spent waiting for parts to arrive and finding a custom stainless steel fabricator that could make some of the parts we needed. I should also say that we did have lots of help finding what we needed from a couple (Tom and Jeanne Brown) that run La Paz Cruisers Supply (http://www.bigleftturn.com/lapazcruiserssupply) right here in Marina Palmira. If you are a cruiser stopping in La Paz they can direct you to anything cruising related that you might need. Without their help we would have probably spent even more time trying to accomplish these projects.

Now I am very happy to say that all of the major projects are done and we are ready for some serious exploring.

La Paz wasn’t all work. We met some cool new people on the docks and we enjoyed some wonderful meals and drinks with them either on our boat or on theirs. Sometimes we had to pay the price for that fun the next day resulting from a bit too much wine or rum the night before. But it sure was fun. One couple performed for us by playing the accordion and singing. Good times.

Tom and Jeanne Brown were nice enough to share their experiences with us of the cruising areas we were planning to see as we travel north into the Sea Of Cortez. It helped us to decide on some places we definitely wanted to see and also about how long it would take to see them.

Now that I’m not so focused on working on boat projects every day I hope to be updating the blog more regularly to keep everyone more informed on the details of our adventure.

Time for another margarita.

As they say in Mexico “Vaya con dios”.

Mike

Minimalism on a Boat

I was reading a blog about living a more minimalist life and realized that a lot of the writer’s ideas about minimalism overlapped with our goals in taking this journey on our sailboat.  That got me to thinking about putting down in writing what some the goals were and what I have learned so far.  Traveling and seeing the world by boat might sound like it would be the sole reason for doing this, but we actually came up with quite a few other things that we think will make this adventure, and our lives, more meaningful.  So, here goes…

Getting rid of all our “stuff.”  

Do you know how much “stuff” you have?  Downsizing from a house to a 41 foot boat will be a wake up call for how much “stuff” you have that you really don’t need.  Mike had already decluttered his stuff years ago when he moved onto Adagio. He literally moved into my house several years later with just one bag of clothes.

But, I’m the one who had to seriously purge my stuff last fall.  It was a fascinating exercise in having to decide exactly what was necessary or important to me.  I actually found boxes in my garage that hadn’t been opened since I moved into the house seven years earlier.  I found files with old bank statements from the 90’s. WTF? Why was I holding onto that junk?  There were other things that I know I had thought were important at one time, but when you really think about it, do you NEED it?

I think getting rid of my stuff has been one of the most freeing things I have ever done. And the thing is, there is nothing that I miss! I don’t have any regrets of selling or donating any of the items I got rid of.  Even if you don’t get rid of all of your belongings like we did, the next time you are out shopping ask yourself if it is really something you need before you buy it.  I wish I had done more of that when we were land based.  The consumerism mentality in our country just wants you to SPEND.  But, think about what else you could do with that money – send your kids to college, go on an exciting adventure, donate to a worthwhile charity… You get the picture.  You really don’t need all that STUFF!

Be less busy and more purposeful

How busy are you, really?  Between working full time jobs, hobbies, social commitments, etc. (and those of you with kids have even more commitments), how busy is your life? I think we all get over scheduled.  It is so easy to do!  Do you ever have that feeling that time is flying by?  That would always happen to me.  I swear every year at Christmas I would think, how is it Christmas again already??  I think when we are too busy, sometimes the world just flies by us.

When you live on a boat and are out at sea, things just slow down.  You can’t be in a hurry.  And, you can’t do things on a whim.  Little tasks take much longer to do.  Getting anywhere takes much longer when you only go 5-6 knots.  Even when we are in port (with no car), things take longer.  A trip to the grocery store on the bikes can take a couple of hours.

But, the upside in everything being slower is that we really have to think about what we need or want to do.  We don’t just go on autopilot; we have to be purposeful in choosing what to do each day.  As a consequence of that, I think we get more out the experience, whether it is a menial chore like grocery shopping or something fun like diving.  And, you know what, things are not flying by!  We left California almost four months ago, but that seems like it was a year ago!

Experience nature and be environmentally conscious

If you live in a city and spend most of your day inside an air conditioned building with artificial lights, you are really missing out on nature.  I think it is easy to also roll your eyes at news reports on climate change or pollution or damage to some ecosystem when you never get out and see it.  If it doesn’t directly impact your life, why should you care?

Ok, I know a lot of you do care, and so do we!  We live on a big planet, and most of that planet is ocean.  We wanted to get out and see it all.  There are so many beautiful places that are still raw and untouched by humans, and many that you can only get to by boat. We’re just starting this journey, but hopefully we’ll get to see much more than we ever imagined. We’re also having to learn a lot about weather systems, the wind, the ocean, tides, currents, etc.  It is actually really fascinating.

One of our goals is to be as self-sufficient as possible.  That is the best part of a sailboat – it is powered by wind!  We also have solar panels and a wind generator on board to power our electrical equipment.  Of course, we do have a diesel engine in the boat, but we’re trying to use it only when necessary. That means that sometimes when the wind dies down, we’ll just bop around not going anywhere until the wind picks back up again (see above re not being in a hurry).  We’re trying to use as much renewable energy as possible rather than rely on fossil fuels.

We’re also having to learn to really conserve water.  We carry 80-100 gallons of water on board. Do you know how much water you use?  I don’t think I paid that much attention to water usage on land.  But you know what, you can really conserve water if you want to.  Mike and I have estimated that together we can get down to four gallons of fresh water a day.  Of course, that means washing a lot of things (including ourselves) in salt water.  (I’ll let Mike post later about our water maker…)

Be healthy

We tried to eat healthy and work out regularly before we left.  But, one of our goals was to have a really healthy lifestyle on the boat.  We occasionally eat out to experience the local cuisine, but most of the time we cook on board.  When you are busy (see above) it is sometimes difficult to always prepare a healthy meal at home, but we have more time to think about that now.  We don’t eat processed foods and try not to eat anything artificial. We also stay away from a lot of unnecessary starches and breads. Fresh home cooked food really is the best!

We are also a lot more active on the boat.  Even if you go to the gym an hour a day, most people spend 8-10 hours sitting at a desk and are very sedentary.  Pretty much everything we do now has some activity, even if it is just walking or biking into town. Sailing, swimming, hiking, diving, paddle boarding, biking, boat projects, cleaning the boat, etc. have added much more activity to our daily routine.  I think overall this lifestyle is healthier than the one we had back at home.

Minimizing screen time

How many hours a day do you watch TV or play on the internet?  It was funny to me how many people asked me if we would have cable TV when I moved onto the boat (uh, no.)  We do actually have a TV that we can use to play movies, and we do occasionally but not that often.

I can remember watching TV my entire life.  (I was a big Scooby Doo fan as a kid.)  It was really exciting when we first got cable TV and all of the sudden had more than four or five channels to watch.  But you know what, I don’t miss it.  AT ALL.   Why the heck I ever spent hours watching TV instead of getting outdoors or even reading a book is really beyond me.

Right now, in La Paz, is the most internet that we have had since we left California.  (I’m on the internet right now in the Cruiser’s Lounge while I’m waiting for my laundry to be done.)  But, I’m ready to be free of the internet again.

It is great to stay in touch with friends and family and keep up with what is going on in the world, but it will suck you in!  We read a blog recently that talked about getting the “clicks.”  You know what I mean…when you start to click on things on the internet with no real purpose and then you realize a couple of hours just went by.  Yeah, we’re trying not to do that. I admit that it is a bit of a challenge.

We were biking back to the marina last night around 9:00 pm, and I commented to Mike that I was surprised at all of the people out.  The malecon was full of people out for a jog, riding a bike, or just strolling along the waterfront.  Young people, old people, families with kids, it seemed like the whole town was out on a Monday evening.  It just seemed so different, and Mike commented that it was different from back home because they all weren’t at home watching TV.

Learn something

This journey is about learning.  We want to experience different countries and cultures, read some good books, learn a new language, meet new people that come from different backgrounds, learn about nature, perfect our sailing skills, and ultimately come back enriched by the whole experience.

Share our experience with others

That is the purpose of this blog!  We know not everyone can (or wants to) do what we are doing.  But, we hope to share our experiences with everyone else.  We don’t just want it to be a travel blog, but a blog of our experiences, thoughts and feelings along the way.  I’m still trying to figure out what to include on the blog, so I would love feedback from everyone who reads this (all three of you??).  Let us know what you would like to see on the blog.

We also want to share this experience by inviting friends to join us for a leg or two of our journey.  So, give us a shout if that is something you are interested in.

We’re leaving La Paz today and will be out of WiFi range for a while, but we hope to have lots of pictures and video to share with you of our exploration of the islands when we get back into WiFi range.

~katie

Video: Diving Cabo Pulmo

So… I finally found fast enough WiFi to upload this video!  It only took 2.5 hours to upload!  This is my first underwater video, so hopefully they will get better.  After we took this I got some dive filters for my GoPro. That should improve the color for future videos.  We’ve been told that as the water starts to warm up in the Sea this summer, we will have even better visibility.  Anyway, here is the video from our Cabo Pulmo dive in May.  I hope you enjoy!

Hot Hot Hot

Yesterday and today we are getting a serious taste of Summer in the Sea of Cortez.  It has reached 104 both days, and staying cool is definitely a challenge.  Unfortunately, because we are in a marina, we can’t just jump over the side of the boat to cool off.  But, we are doing our best to stay down below with the fans going during the afternoon. And, yesterday we found a coffee shop with AIR CONDITIONING!

There are a few boats here in the marina that have air conditioning, but that’s pretty rare.  A lot of people cover the entire boat in canvas tarps to try and keep the inside a little cooler.  When Mike redid the headliner a couple of years ago, he put insulation in, which really helps us stay at least 10-15 degrees cooler than outside (at 104 that’s still pretty warm).  I think a lot of boats just bake from the sun hitting the decks.

104 is officially too hot to move…

Other than the heat the last couple of days, we are really enjoying our time here in La Paz.  We have met a lot of great people here in the marina who have given us all kinds of tips for cruising Mexico and the South Pacific.

La Paz is a lovely town, which may be big for Baja, but compared to Southern California is really quite small.  We’re able to ride our bikes from the marina into town along the beautiful Malecon and have found all kinds of shops, restaurants, bars, etc.  Two days a week, there is a street market with all kinds of goodies.  Today we got some home baked peasant bread, chimichurri sauce, pate, dried mango and mezcal. We ran out of pesos, or we definitely would have bought more!

We’re also getting some serious stuff done on the boat.  We took the fried SSB into a local electronics guy and we’re hoping that it is going to work.  We were dreading having to put out the money for a new system, so we’ll see.  Mike found a guy who does custom stainless steel work who is going to help him with the installation of the fuel bladder.  This is going to allow us to carry about another 30 gallons of diesel, which will be huge when we do a long passage.

We’ve also been making screen enclosures for everywhere on the boat that will allow us to let the air in and keep the bugs out.  We haven’t had too much of a problem with mosquitoes here, like we did in San Jose.  But, we have had the occasional one find us at night.  The other night one apparently bit me on my eyelid and I woke up with my eye practically swollen shut.  I looked like I had entered the boxing ring in my sleep!

Well, that’s about all the news for now.  I’m off to go try and take a really cold shower and cool off!

~katie

Bahia Los Frailes to La Paz

We had a fabulous time in Bahia Los Frailes.  The water was warm and it was nice and sunny.  The bay is a wide open bay with white sand beaches.  Around one side are rock faces where you can snorkel and there is a sea lion colony around the point. We anchored in about 30 feet of water along with several other boats.  We got a chance to meet some other cruisers who are headed up along the same path as us, so I’m sure we’ll run into them this summer in the Sea!

After Mike’s crab incident (see his post below) we blew up the paddle boards and headed to shore to check out the beach.  It really is great getting around on the paddle boards (and lots of fun too!).  They are much easier to get in the water than launching the dinghy, and as we were just playing around in the bay and going to shore there was no need to have an engine to get around.

The only challenge to the paddle boards is when there is a strong wind or swell, which takes some balance practice and perhaps some strong paddle strokes.  And, when there is some surf that you have to negotiate when landing the boards on the beach.  I only dumped the board once when I mistimed a landing. Oh well.

There were some really cool rock formations right on the beach that we climbed to snap some pictures.  Then we decided to hike up to Cerro Los Frailes, which is a scramble up 750 ft.  It was a little challenging at times, but the view from the top was an absolutely fantastic 360 view of the bay, the mountains and Cabo Pulmo on the other side of the point.

IMG_0328

After a few days playing around at Bahia Los Frailes, we decided to head up farther north toward La Paz.  Our next stop was Ensenada de los Muertos.  We were able so sail most of the way on the 46 mile trek north until the wind died out an hour or so before our arrival.  Unfortunately we had a bit of a difficult time anchoring, because our anchor chain had toppled over onto itself, which did not allow me to drop the anchor with the windlass.  Mike had to crawl into the anchor locker and literally move 300 feet of chain to untangle it.  Ugh!  We got it straightened out and dropped anchor before we lost the daylight.

We weren’t too impressed with Ensenada de Los Muertos, so we decided to pick up the anchor the next morning and keep moving north.  We had really light winds from the wrong direction, so we ended up motoring most of the day to make it up to Puerto Balandra.

Puerto Balandra is beautiful!  There are multiple sand beaches and several different anchorages.  We had to anchor quite a way from the beaches as it is mostly shallow shoal.  You can probably walk out at least a quarter mile from the beach and still only be in waist deep water.

When we first arrived in the late afternoon, we dropped the hook in the anchorage where the wind was blowing us off of the beach.  We took a quick dip in the water and realized it was about 10 degrees warmer than Los Frailes!  Quite a surprise.  We were greeted by a large manta ray that swam up to the boat, which was pretty cool.

The anchorage really calmed down just before sunset, and the water was completely flat.  However, right after the sun sank over the horizon, the winds started blowing from the complete opposite direction.  Within minutes, we had 15-18 knot winds that would have blown us into the rock face if our anchor dragged.  So, we quickly pulled up the anchor and scooted over to the anchorage on the other side of the bay which would not put us in a lee shore situation.  This was our first experience with the cormwell winds that blow in the La Paz area at night.

The next morning we pulled out the paddle boards again to explore the bay.  The shallow water over sand gave the impression of a giant swimming pool!

It really was a beautiful anchorage, and I hope we make it back there sometime soon!  But, it was time to move on again, so today we took off for La Paz.  We’ll be here at Marina Palmira in La Paz for the next few weeks.  Hoping to get the end of our projects done so that we can spend the rest of the summer checking out the local islands.

~katie

Puerto Los Cabos to Bahia Los Frailes

05/18/2016

Puerto Los Cabos to Bahia Los Frailes

Hello everyone. It’s been a while since I took some time to sit and write a post. At the moment we are sitting at anchor in a beautiful spot called Bahia Los Frailes. This is our second day here and we’ll probably spend a couple more days here.

What a relief to finally be away from Marina Puerto Los Cabos near San Jose Del Cabo where we spent the last month. It was nice to explore the town there, meet some cool new people, complete some boat projects, and celebrate Katie’s 40th birthday with her parents but it was definitely time to move on. Two good reasons for getting out of there were getting away from the mosquitos (we couldn’t enjoy sitting outside at night because of them) and getting out of the heat. It was getting so that it was difficult to sleep comfortably because it was so hot even at night. So we cast off the dock lines and headed for Bahia Los Frailes.

Here is a list of the stuff we worked on while we were there.
Project Status
1 Varnish wood in galley Complete
2 Install fresh and salt water foot pumps Complete
3 Install top opening hatch screens Complete
4 Apply fresh coat of Semco to exterior teak Complete
5 Fix fan in cabin Complete
6 Seal inside top of fridge and freezer Complete
7 Fix light in batter locker Complete
8 Trouble shoot fridge compressor overheat issue Complete
9 Purchase and add additional refrigerant to fridge compressor Complete 10 Fix issue with head stay roller furling Complete
11 Re-bed glass in portlights Complete
12 Painting the anchor chain Complete

The trip from Marina Puerto Los Cabos to Bahia Los Frailes was approximately 28 nautical miles. Normally this would have been about a 5 hour trip but the wind didn’t want to cooperate that day and blew straight out of the direction we needed to go. Since we can’t sail directly into the wind we had to tack and head offshore several miles a couple of times to get an angle on the wind that would allow us to sail toward our destination. This turned a 5 hour trip into a 7 hour trip instead. This wouldn’t have been a big deal except that it changed our arrival time from 7pm to after 9pm which meant we would have to approach the bay and drop the anchor at night. I don’t normally like to approach an unknown bay/anchorage at night, but we reviewed the cruising guides we had and determined that the risk was low so we went for it. When we arrived there were already three other boats in the anchorage so we picked a spot a safe distance away in about 40 feet of water and dropped the hook.

The next morning we noticed that a large power boat that was here when we arrived the night before had left. So we pulled up the anchor and moved the boat in closer which gave us better protection from the wind and swell. It was a beautiful day and we decided to just relax and enjoy the scenery around us from the boat for the day.

Today we woke up, ate breakfast and decided to jump in the water to do some cleaning of the hull to keep the marine growth from damaging our paint. During this exercise I noticed a couple of tiny crabs that had taken up residence on the attachment point for our Hydrovane rudder. I brushed them away and didn’t think much of it as I finished the job. About thirty minutes after I got out of the water I was feeling what felt like water draining from my left ear but each time I checked I didn’t see or feel any water. This kept happening for about another 30 minutes and then it dawned on me that maybe one of those tiny crabs decided that my left ear was a good new home after I evicted it from the Hydrovane. To see if my hunch was correct I asked Katie to put some rubbing alcohol in my ear thinking that if the crab was in there it may flush it out. After the rubbing alcohol was in my left ear I started hearing a gurgling noise thinking that this was just the alcohol making its way into my ear. To be sure I turned onto my left side to let it drain out. Once I did this I heard the gurgling again and then checked to see if the alcohol had drained. When I looked down I was staring directly at the culprit. A tiny little crab that was most likely wondering what that nasty substance was that we had just doused it with. My reaction was to simply pick it up and toss it overboard not surprised that I was right once again. Katie’s reaction was something like, “what the ##??!!, that would totally freak me out”. Now I guess I can say that our boat has a clean bottom and I found the cure for getting crab (singular) in Bahia Los Frailes ha ha.

Well that’s enough for now. Time to blow up the inflatable paddle boards and head over to explore the beautiful white sand beach that lines the shore of this beautiful place. We’ll post some pictures once we get to La Paz in the next couple of weeks where we can get a good WiFi connection.

Peace

Captain Mike.

Adventures with the Parents!

My parents came in town last week to celebrate my 40th birthday.  They stayed at a fabulous resort called Cabo Azul on the Malecon in San Jose.  It was quite damaged by the hurricane and they had to close down for 8 months, but it is reopened and beautiful.  They are still trying to get people to come down now that they are reopened, so they got a really good deal on the room.  It has numerous pools and and a swim up bar all overlooking the ocean.  I highly recommend it if you are thinking of coming down to the Cabo area.

We took a cab down to Cabo San Lucas on Wednesday and hopped on a glass bottom boat to check out the rock formations and beaches.  The water was so clear and we could see tons of fish right under the boat!

The next day we decided to take Adagio out for a sail.  We had some lovely wind that let us sail for a bit up the coastline and enjoy the beautiful scenery!

On Friday we decided just to hang out at the resort and enjoy relaxing in the gorgeous pools (and 2 for 1 margaritas at happy hour)!  But before we did that, Mom and I walked across the street from the resort for “Fish Therapy!”  This was one of the funniest things I have ever done.  It is a “pedicure” by fish!  You stick your feet in a tank of water where these little fish with suckers on them literally suck the dead skin off your feet.  Mom and I were giggling so much because it was so ticklish!

We had a lovely birthday dinner that night there are the resort.  I ordered the Red Snapper having no idea what I was getting myself into!  The waiter came back over after I ordered and said that it was a rather large fish and really for two people.  So, my mom, who had ordered a different fish, said she would change her order and split it with me.  Well, the fish was HUGE! I think it could have fed the whole table.  They brought out the entire fish, head and all, to the table.  We didn’t finish it, but it was delicious!

Overall, it was a fantastic birthday and a great end to our stay here in San Jose del Cabo.  We are getting ready to head north.  Our first stop will be Los Frailes.  We’ll keep you all updated on our next adventure!

~katie