Friday, January 29, 2010

Off to Isla Partida and Espiritu Santo

It is our last day in La Paz. I finally have access to the internet and I am able to update the blog.

The morning started early for me, I woke up around 6 in the morning and rush to get the blog updated so I could upload once the access to the net was available. We had breakfast, dinghjy to the marina, took a nice, hot shower and walked to an Internet cafe. Matt sat down looking forward to a peaceful connection. The girls and I left him and headed to downtown for our last bacon wrapped hotdog. Stop at radio shack and then ice cream at "La Fuente". The best ice cream in town! (You must get it in a cone or Lirio. Then we switched, Matt took the girls and here I am, trying to close and episode of sailing. I believe James and our new friend Biff will sail with us to the islands tomorrow! I am looking forward!

We will probably be out of touch until Mazatlan!

La Paz

Añadir imagen

How exiting it is for me to arrive here I was so curious to see what it was, Matt has talked about La Paz for years as part of his adventures earlier in life. We have achieved another goal and I still want to keep sailing. It is a great life!

Laundry, boat cleaning, provisioning food, fuel, propane and water are all being done. Now we have the convenience of a Marina for the next 4 days. Oh how nice is to run water and turn all the lights and get in and out into a dock! It is nice not having to divide your shower in phases, as you do onboard, phase 1: get wet, phase 2 put soap, phase 3: rinse. A few more phases are added if I have to wash my hair.

La Paz has a large and very organized cruising network, at 8 in the morning the Net gets on channel 22. It starts with emergency calls, weather reports, proceeds with local assistance, swaps and trades, trades for "coconuts", crew requests and they schedule mail delivery. Everyone listening can participate by giving their boat name first. I truly enjoy when someone gets a recognitions, the coordinator asks everyone to give a few clicks on the radio. (the VHF applause) Right after that, everyone meets at coffee hour next to the marina where they have a club house. They do book trades and run a movie lending program. The girls are enjoying this service!.

Besides Tenacious Grace there are a few other people on boats that we know the others are coming in couple of days. It is interesting how we have become a tie group. We follow each others progress and make plans accordingly, but La Paz is a turning point and we all go in different directions. Some of them are going home, some are going further north, some are going to the South Pacific and others to Central America.

We really hoped to find more children around, there are few. Zach and Kat from Tenacious Grace, even though they are a little older, have been so good to know. The girls have love their friendship much as we have enjoyed the friendship of Lisa and Brad.

We took buses and taxis with our friends, visited most stores of interest, tried all different combinations of foods such us Tostilocos, tostilotes, camaron en rajas, etc. We even went to the movies. Took long walks, had many ice creams and socialize with good friends; Blue, Nyami Nyami, Anon, Pyxis, Matilda, Tenacious Grace, Keetya 1.

Today our friends from Tenacious Grace are leaving to Mazatlan, I was hoping they would go with us up to the islands of Partida and Espiritu Santo, but they decided otherwise. We hope we run into each other again!!

I must put my writing away for now, the girls are awaked and I must start breakfast

Bahia Balandra

After 2 days in Los Muertos we sail away with Tenacious Grace, leaving behind our friend James from Pyxis. I could avoid to feel disappointed when he decided to stay behind, but it was very understandable. The diving in los Muertos was fenomenal and his final destination for the moment is La Paz so there is no rush for him to keep going.

It was 8 in the morning, our sail was full, about 100 yards off to our port side 3 whales decorate our view, filling the morning with excitement. The rest of the sail was smooth, Tenacious Grace on our side, at times close enough that we could exchange words and candies that we through to each other.

We arrived at Bahia Balandra and so far the most beautiful and exiting place we have been. The rock formations, erosion, the shallow water and the colors fill my thoughts with all the activities we will be able to do. Hiking, kayaking, swimming, snorkeling and more. Set the anchor at 13 feet deep, turned off the navigation switches, put the dinghy in the water and inflated the kayaks. Matt and the girls took the dinghy and I took the two person kayak and picked up Lisa. We kayaked around the rocks with the sunset on our sides. So inspiring, such a master piece of Art!

We cooked dinner and prepared to watch a movie with popcorn, everything went according to plan until we put our heads on the pillow, bang, bang, splash, splash it was not the wake of a boat. Matt was concerned that if we were turned around we would experience severe rolling and he was not up for that. He got up, run strong ties to the dinghy, started the motor, raise the anchor and left. I notified Tenacious Grace and didn’t question his decision. Trying to anchor somewhere at night is not safe, but he considered that it was worth staying. The seas are rough, the waves, not big, but coming from all directions. It was hard to predict the movements of the boat. Things inside are banging and the girls sleeping as if nothing was happening. I added a few more bruises to my arms and legs.

I was not afraid, just very uncomfortable, I said a little prayer so the wind would calm. It did! We entered the channel in Pichilingue to find the anchorage. We had a guessing game with the navigations lights that mark the channel. This was important, you miss one and end up on the reef. Using our paper charts, our chart plotter, the radar and Matt incredible talent and expertise we made it to a pleasant anchorage.We dropped 150 feet of anchor chain and then realized that we were extremely close to the channel. If the boat swings at night we will be in the middle of it and maybe awaken by a large ferry trying to go by. We assessed the situation one more time and decided to stay. I had a wonderful sleep.

I woke up with the sound of the motor. We are now in the way to La Paz. Only 2 hours away.

Bahia de Los Muertos

We had a wonderful sail, arrived in Bahia de Los muerto around 11 in the morning. There is a restaurant on one side of the bay where we will have Interntet and Margarita Access!! Sounds like a good combination to me. On the other side of the bay there is Playa de los Suenos. A beautiful resort that Matt and the girls discovered and took advantage of the Jungle Gym they had for the children.

Samantha wants to show me the place, Trini wants to visit James and Matt wants to work on the motor. He suggested we take the dinghy, but warns me about hidden rocks under water and shallow spots that would destroy the propeller. After getting my level of stress high, I left, the ride went well, but as I was getting near the shore, the waves started to look bigger and bigger. I am not sure If it was my imagination or it was real. I told Samantha I couldn’t do it. She was disappointed and so was I, I tried again, the waves now look even bigger, she is crying and I was at the edge of it, a mix of fear, frustration and anger. I was overwhelmed. We returned to Endurance, Matt decided to take us, after all, what was he going to do with two emotional girls on board. He dropped us off, piece of cake!, The two of us had a wonderful time, we walked back and climb up and slide down the dunes, collected sea shells and sea glass. I love having a one and one with the girls. We have the best talks this way.

Off to the next Bay

For a week we have been looking outside the bay, feeling intimidated by the white caps and strong winds, but today, Sunday is the day. We will leave at dawn towards Bahia de Los Muertos (Bay of the dead). I don’t want to know why the name, but I was assured it was a pretty bay.

Shrimp…lots of it.

The shrimpers are in the bay, waiting for better weather. We figured that they would be willing to share some shrimp. Matt was determined to get some. He invited Brad from Tenacious to come along and using his Spanish abilities got a 5 gall bucket full in exchange of 2 boxes of wine. We also had a fish that James caught and I prepared in the oven and a little as cebiche. The next day, we spent a great part of the morning cleaning and peeling shrimp. I cooked them and prepared a cocktail that I took for a picnic at the beach with James and our friends from Tenacious.

La Cantina

About two miles away there was Bar Regional, a group of us walked to it to enjoy a cold beer and a fun afternoon. The walk was nice. We discovered the other side of the bay where the sand was perfect for sand castles, we will have to return for a little picnic. About the picture; Trini didnt have to walk to the Cantina, James was his victim!

Food in Frailes

It is a good way to stretch our budget when there is no place to go and spend, Frailes was that place. However, everyday, in the mornings, there is someone who brings fresh produce, dairies and some meat. We were able to get some essentials and a good aromatic fruit to give our mornings a real feeling of being in the Tropics.

Bahia Los Frailes

We arrived a little before 11 at night. It is a stressful situation to anchored this late. We must find a spot open enough for our boat considering the radio in which we will swing, but estimating distances in the dark is extremely challenging so pretty much we must guide ourselves by sounds. The sound of the breaking waves.

When we woke up, we realized that there were more boats than what we counted the night before, over 10, most of which were known vessels and friends that had been ahead of us.
The snorkeling was fantastic, the beach on the anchor side was a little rocky, not very comfortable for the barefooted people we prefer to be. There was a good hike up into Cerro Los Frailes which we did with my friend Lisa from Tenacious Grace. The kids played in the dunes, climbing the rocks and built habitats with Hermit crabs and sea snails. We all got to enjoy the rock climbing activity that James set for us.

San Jose del Cabo

Just a few miles East of Cabo is San Jose del Cabo a much quieter place, very nice and with a nice marina in which we were able to stay for $40 a night with no electricity. It was good place, but still under construction. As it has become a regular routine right after the arrival Matt wash the boat and I organize and clean the inside. After all this was done, James and us caught a taxi ride to the town of San Jose for a well deserved and long missed ice cream. It was a clean and very attractive little town. We walked up and down the streets, bought some postcards, ate our ice cream and walked away from the touristic street. We found a “Bazar” were we purchase a few Chinese nick nacks. As usual; one of the kids had to use the bathroom. The employees were a little hesitant to let us use it, mainly because there is no running water so we had to use buckets to flush the toilet. To end our walk through town we stopped for “Tortas” (Mexican sandwich) at a hidden, local restaurant that fitted our budget. This was not one of the fancy places we walked in the main strip, where the margaritas looked amazing, the plates are nicely decorated, the tables are covered with bright and inviting colors and everyone eating there has a look of sophistication. It was quite the opposite. Our conversation during dinner was all about remedies for intestinal infections. Fortunately, the food was good and no one had a problem in the following days.

Next morning we prepared to leave. We took our time because our idea was to anchored right outside the marina. It didn’t work as planned and we ended up sailing into rough seas with waves breaking into the bow. I managed to elaborate a meal to which I added half a table of Dramamine for the girls. It was to late for us to take anything so we had to deal with the sea sickness and venture into the dark as we sail to our next anchorage in Bahia Los Frailes.

It is time to provision again

We had options, Sam’s Club, Costco or City Club if we wanted to buy the crates of stuff or Walmart, CCC, Soriana and maybe others if we wanted to keep it manageable. We had to keep in mind that all we bought would have to be loaded in the dinghy and then pushed out into the break in the beach along with the girls, Matt, James and Myself. I didn’t feel intimidated by it, I figure it would get done somehow and gracefully.

We went through the isles carefully, checking for exotic products and flavors. It was fun! Specially when I was left shopping alone. I touched, compared, smelled and decided. It is my not very efficient, but still favorite way to shop.

The bill came out to a little more than 2000 pesos.

We took a taxi ride to the beach, and proceeded with the difficult operation of loading the dinghy.. All the merchandise was in, the girls were in and Matt was in. James swam next to us and I boarded half way to the boat.

Cabo San Lucas

The excitement builds up as we approach the famous rock in Cabo San Lucas, the mark that a journey that I feared for long has been reached. The bottom of Baja. I was promised that from that point forward we would find paradise and more paradise. As beautiful as it is, the noise, obnoxious tourist activities, amount of boats do not make Cabo San Lucas a very pleasant place to be.

We had to keep a close eye for the jet skiers that use the boats anchored on the bay as parts of an obstacle course. Open from 8 till Sunset. We know someone who had the bitter experience of having one of these machines crash into their boat. It was costly and unforgettable since the skier lost his life.

The beach was beautiful, full of vendors dressed in white selling baskets, clothing, jewelry, braids and bobble head turtles and “chicle” (bubble gum). Restaurants and bars all along the beach with their “incredible” offers of Happy Hour, two beers for the price of one at double the price!! Thirst and the comfort of a sit under a palapa makes us play fool and we go for it.

The girls got beautiful dresses from one Mayan Lady! We were able to bargain a little and got each for $7.00, they were so happy!, they put them on and dance around the table.

Bahia Magdalena (“Mag Bay”)

It is time to sail further South, we could go straight South to Cabo or do the detour to “Mag Bay”. Some of our friends are in Mag Bay and every book suggest stopping there, would we miss something.. our last chance.. 1,2,3.. we are going in. I was a little disappointing after being a beautiful Santa Maria. Mag Bay was hit by the last hurricane and the town was destroyed. The church has been abandoned, only the doves and forgotten plastic flowers decorate the interior. The roof has been blown, the pews are there and the door remains open for curious tourist or devout people like us. Our boat coincidentally was anchored right in front of Jesus view. We were blessed.

The local kids held a baseball game that we had to join. It was a nice way to make our children interact with the local kids. Their bat was a piece of 2 x4. Matt and James, being carpenters felt that the bat could be improved. James started the project and Rob from “Keetya 1” finished it. It turned out beautiful. They held a short game that day and even Samantha had a chance to play.

We shared some of our candies with the local kids and they took us for a hike. We went as far as I felt comfortable with the kids. We got the nice view of the bay and all of our boats, took pictures and came down. I got a little uncomfortable with the kids. One of them kept asking me how many cameras I had in the boat, could I give her one, she told me about a sad Christmas and how much she could use a camera. I wish I could have spare some, but not in this trip.. Am I being a bad Christian? Was I being tested? Oh well. We still have the cameras.

There are two stores to provision, limited supplies, but that is always a good thing for us to save our money.

It is time to leave. We are ready, not much more to do or see anymore. Cabo is our next stop, in 2 days

Octopus for dinner

I cooked the Octopus we got in Asuncion from Angelina following the recipe she gave us; boiled the octopus for almost an hour
Sautéed tomatoes, onions, green chilies, added the cut up octopus a can of pureed tomatoes, salsa el Pato (Spicy!!) and voila. Interesting!. There must a better way to cook it, but until I find it I wont be cooking it again.

Snorkeling and tide pooling!!

The snorkeling on the reef of Santa Maria is beautiful, but the water is still cold so Trini and I found more practical to observe the fish from the dinghy. After all the water is extremely clear. Matt, Samantha and James experienced the real thing and James was actually very productive, he got a couple of Grouper fish and a Pompano. We share we other cruiser anchored in this bay and ate some for dinner.

When the tide goes down.. it goes down! Leaving beautiful flat beaches where you get and instinctive feeling of running, jumping cart wheeling or anything. I felt like a kid who wanted to play. I couldn’t let such a wonderful play escape!. On the other side, by the reef the scenery was amazing as well, but this time there were fantastic rocks to play hide and sick, to make houses and pretend play for Trini, to play in the tide pools and hide in the caves. Not to mention a good place to learn about the life of the small creatures such as sea snails, crabs and sea anemones. James caught and brought to us an electric Ray. We got to touch it, he got the shock. We like having our good friend James with us..he.

Rafting up with Pyxis

We reached another anchor with the company of our friend James from vessel Pyxis. For the first time we rafted up with another boat. It was a lot of fun for the girls. Adding ten more feet to the port of our boat seemed very convenient. It is nice to be able to visit someone without having to ride the dinghy, get cold and or wet. The highlight of the raft-up was for Samantha who was able to balance on the ropes going from bow to bow.

Dinghy ride to the estuary

Past the water break we found the entrance to the estuary, I felt we were going through the Amazon, not that I have been there, but it could be the closest I get. As we go in we encountered the lobster fisherman having breakfast all in a tent, they waved, we waved and ask how long do we have to travel through the estuary before getting stuck in the sand with a low tide. We keep going and we see two heads moving across the water from one fishing camp to another, I expect to see seals, but they were dogs. A very cute site!

We were extremely impressed with the construction of the fisherman camps, very clean, very poor, but with all the necessary amenities to still enjoy the sunset, the bear on their porches and a great day of fishing.

Bahia Santa Maria

Left at 3 AM on the 31st. Matt got up, hoisted the anchor, started the motor and took us out of Asuncion. I manage to fall back to sleep after all the noise the operation entitled and Matt’s own addition. I got up at at 5:30 to see the sunrise and keep him company. After the girls woke up I made pancakes for breakfast and fed them. We had some left over to share with our fellow cruiser James who left this morning as well. The problem was he miss the throw so the seagulls benefited from his loss.

It has been the roughest sailing so far, The girls got a little seasick, the boat inside was completely unattended today. It was simply impossible to be inside. Things were sliding from port to starboard, the covers opened and plates and silverware were flying out to the floor. I think we broke our movie player.. For dinner, I managed to make some bean quesadillas and a butter-ham sandwich.

Back to Asuncion; to the doctor

Trinidad had fever last night, her stomach hurts and she is coughing and I have been dragging this cold for a while, cough and sinus pressure, its uncomfortable. We figure it would be better to move to Asuncion so we could get some medical attention.

We went to the doctor. We both had strep throat so for the next 7 days we must take antibiotics. The town only has 2 small pharmacies and the supplies are limited so I was not able to get the full treatment worth of pills for me, I am short one day. I was charged $600 pesos for the 2 of us. (US $48) not too bad!

Fishing in San Roque

The next day our friends took us to the San Roque Island for fishing. There were some Pinto seals (spotted like a Pinto horse). Always curious and cute! The landing seems to be pretty easy so I got out to help and splash.. I went right under the boat. It was pretty funny, but I had to spend the rest of our time there with a towel around my waist until the clothes dried. The fishing was very successful, we had grilled fish and lobster for dinner.

It is a tricky thing! Foreigners are not allowed to capture lobster nor any other crustacean in Mexico

Bahia San Roque

In Asuncion we met our friends Donie and Sandra who have been coming for many years to camp in San Roque (10 milles north). Since we wanted to spend time together we took a step back in our voyage and sail two hours north. The place is very desolated At one point it had residents, a church and even a school, but today there is not nothing left except for empty buildings. There is a long white sandy beach with only one family enjoying it, my friends and their dog. In the afternoon we went over to their campsite and barbeque some chicken and hotdogs. The girls are loving it because they get to play with Kahiti who is 8.

Bahia Asuncion

The sailing was nice, calm and steady. We arrive around 1 PM set the anchor and waited for the others to arrive. Matt put the dinghy in the water and all 7 of us went to explore the town. There was no dock so our landing had to be through the surf and into the beach.

There is one paved street, along this street we found the Internet café, the Clinic, the market/ paper store/pharmacy/ liquor store, the water store were we got 30 gallons of purified water, the Flea Market, the Police Department and the one pump gas station. There is also one sports bar with a cool rustic design owned by a north American.

The people are wonderful here too. We met a wonderful family; Armando, Angelica and their kids. They too, opened their house to us. They let us use the internet, made us shrimp and abalone cebiche and gave us a frozen octopus along with the recipe to cook it. Plus Angelica gave us a ride to the meat store and then a tour through town. I would like to own a piece of land there overlooking the ocean.. wow!