Sunday, November 29, 2009

Submitted by Kathy with some edits by Bill

Turtle Bay to Bahia Santa Maria

On our last night at Turtle Bay, they held a beach party / potluck that is famous for catastrophic dinghy landings.  This year the seas were calm, so there wasn't much excitement.

The trip to Bahia Santa Maria was uneventful, with some lovely moonlight sailing.  We saw a few whales along the way, but steered clear of them given the recent news of J-World's sinking.  (Bill:  Early on, there was a lot of misinformation floating around about the sinking and I am guilty of repeating some of that.  It turns out they saw the whale just in front of them as they were surfing down a wave and couldn't avoid it.  The hull was ruptured at the base of the rudder post and they filled with water and sank. They didn't see the whale again after the initial contact.  For the whole story, see lectronic latitudes.  It will also be covered in the December Latitude 38.)

Bahia Sta Maria is larger than Turtle Bay, but the nearest town is about 40 miles away by water.  There was a HaHa party on the beach near the mouth of the outfall from a lagoon.  In the ebbing tide, it was challenging to reach the party if you landed on the wrong side of the outfall.  After schleping the dinghy up the beach to where we thought we could ford, we ended up schleping it back to the water, and travelling around to the far side of the stream.   The locals put on a feast of fish, prawns, rice & beans (but ran out).  It was still good.  A great band played as well.

Bahia Sta Maria to Cabo SL

We had light breezes, but were able to sail much of the way.  The moon rose much later, so the starlight was better. Many boats stayed in sight of us, so we seemed to have lots of company.  Also, several cruise ships passed through the fleet in the night, so that kept us alert.

We finally had 24 hours where no fleece was required - a major turning point in the trip.  We even stopped for an ocean swim before landing in Cabo.

The anchorage at Cabo was frothing with jetskis, parasail boats and water taxis during the afternoons.  But the rest of the time, it was OK.  There were 3 cruise ships in port when we arrived.  After 2 left, the 3rd managed to back up and turn around in a very small space.  It was really impressive.  Bad news:  the inflatable floor on our dinghy blew up, and lost all its rigidity so we depended on the panga drivers for transportation to and from shore.  Strangely, the price seemed to get higher every day. 

Mark roamed the city and provided valuable intell on where to find beer and ceviche.  We spent 3 days there and capped it off with the HaHa awards party, which was lots of fun.  Awards were given in many categories, such as "worst snorer" and "naked sailing".  Candidates presented themselves up front to compete for the prize.  Imagine our surprise when Mark went up front to compete for the best naked sailing story.  (A couple won the prize)

Our friend Stuart Brunell was visiting with his family and invited us for a delicious spaghetti dinner at their condo at our anchorage.  (Thanks Stuart!)

Cabo to Los Frailes

We left Cabo in the afternoon of November 9th and stopped a few miles later in San Jose del Cabo where we anchored in a beautiful bay.  Our friends Gloria and Michael from Paikia Mist stopped by for a chat.

Nov 10th, the next day, we moved on to Los Frailes.  As in most of the next anchorages, the travelling circus that is the HaHa fleet showed up in the same places.  But it was good to see friendly and familiar faces along the way.

We spent 3 sun drenched, breezy days at Los Frailes.    On Nov 11th, Bill ferried Mark ashore and left him by the side of a dusty road with a couple beers and a bottle of water to hitchhike to San Jose to catch his flight home.  (Bill:  Picture a Clint Eastwood spaghetti western, with a dusty rutted road and a sparse ground cover of cactus.  The sun is directly overhead and even the rattlesnakes are in hiding.  I'd have felt more guilty if I didn't know how resourceful he could be.)  He told us later that the local water-truck driver gave him a ride to the first of a series of small towns where he got rides or the bus back to the airport at San Jose del Cabo.

Bill and I limped around the point in our injured dinghy to the next bay to snorkle the reef, but we didn't get far enough for the good stuff.  The landscape is surprisingly green in this area and the mountainous terrain looks kind of like the northwest (from a distance).

Nov 13th: Next stop:  Los Muertos.  Meurtos is a small bay again filled with the usual suspects (HaHa-ers).  This bay has been targeted by developers and there is a nice restaurant, a golf course and a few lavish mansions under construction nearby.  (Bill:  The developers didn't like the name Los Muertos (the dead) so they have dubbed it Los Suenos (The Dreams)).  A big wind came up during the night, and we needed to keep tabs on our position, but we didn't drag. 


Saturday, Nov 16th:  After one night at Los Muertos, we continued north up Ceravallos Passage .  A fresh breeze filled in out of the north, and after seeing some of our friends sailing into it, we figured we could do it too.  We had a lovely sail, and Gloria & Michael took this photo of us as we crossed tacks.  (Thanks Gloria and Michael!)

As we rounded the point into San Lorenzo Channel, the wind lightened and we were escorted by a school of frisky friendly dolphins.   They rode under the bow and took turns rubbing their backs under the boat!  They stayed with us long enough that we starting given them names.  What a thrill.

As the sun set, we made our way down the narrow shallow dog-leg channel to Marina de la Paz to a great end slip on the outer dock.  Along with our friend Jay on Done Dealing, we were able to order a new dinghy from San Diego through another guy that got a good price and had expeditious import connections.  MLP is a cruiser community with all the services you can imagine.  The Club Cruceros conducts a morning net on VHF, covering arrivals and departures, emergencies, club announcements, trading, mutual assistance, etc.  Boats all over the area participate.  Michael from Paikia Mist dove and put new zincs on the shaft.  (Thanks again Michael!)

We've gotten lots of use out of our bikes here.  They're red with small wheels (clown bikes).  It's too small for Bill, so he looks all legs as he winds down the street.  The streets are in fairly good condition here, and many drivers are very courteous to us.  (Bill: I get a lot of funny looks when I ride around town.)

After a few days, we finally got around to finding a canvas-maker to make us a new dodger, bimini and connector awning to cover the cockpit.  Genero gave us a quote, got his metal worker Ernesto on the job, and the bimini frame was done in 36 hours.  They speak English much better than we speak Spanish, so everything seems to going smoothly.

At Behan's advice, I brought my own Sunbrella awning material from the US.  (Thanks Behan!).  It's much more expensive here so that was good.  However, I wasn't able to get enough, so I still had to buy some at $76/yd.   Yikes!!!! 

Anyhow, that work is moving right along.  We'll see how it turns out.  The canvas and stainless steel are more expensive here, but the labor is much cheaper.  So overall the cost should be a lot less.

Our friends Terry and Rob Moore, from the J-42 sistership Merry J, invited us to dinner on their boat with Gail and Jay.  That evening was such a treat.  (Thanks Terry and Rob!)

Nov 25th.  A guy came to the boat peddling large prawns. I bought a kg.  They were terrific.  We anchored out that night, cooked the prawns, drank a bottle of wine and enjoyed a nice quiet night on the hook.

Nov 26th Thanksgiving Day.  We upped anchor and headed for Marina Palmira, a couple miles away.  After various mysterious sounds, we discovered the engine had overheated.  We killed the engine, unfurled the jib and sailed to the next marina.  Fortunately, they had a convenient slip for us and marina staff on the dock to help us land and we sailed in just fine.  Bill isolated the problem and we walked on shore the for the fabulous Club Cruceros Thanksgiving Dinner, and made a few new friends in the meantime.

More from Bill

While we've been stuck in La Paz, we're getting to know some of the other cruisers.  It's amazing to see how everyone is willing to  help each other out.  I spent a few hours helping out a fellow cruiser with his Wi-Fi connection and have received help with other boat issues from others.

La Paz is a town that pulls you in and is full of ex-pats who came here to cruise the area and never left.  When you hear someone on the morning net trying to sell an Olds Cutlass Supreme, you know that they've been here awhile.

The town seems to have a fairly high standard of living, but it is also being invaded by US corporations.  Both the Sears and the True Value hardware store are nicer that anything I've seen in the states.  The town also has a Walmart and a Sam's club and there is some evidence that they are hurting some of the local businesses.  The locals are hard working and are extremely patient with our butchered Spanish.  I was even able to get my hair cut the way I wanted it.

It's amazing (or perhaps shocking) how much we've become dependent on the internet and cell phones.  After too much timing struggling to get a good wi-fi connection, we finally broke down and bought a Telcel cellular modem.  We can hook this up to a Cradlepoint wi-fi access point and we can share the connection.  We now have a great internet connection that should work anywhere there is cell phone coverage in Mexico.  Unlike the US, they will sell you service a day, week or month at a time and no contract is required.  We just have to recharge the sim card at any bank, Telcel store or OXXO (a Mexican convenience store more common than Starbucks in Seattle).  With this, we now are able to check our svjarana email on a regular basis.

On the wind vane side of things, I discovered that the oar was not centered on it's post, which might explain why it always was pulling to one side or the other and not just tracking behind the boat.  I've modified it with a stack of shims made from a cut up placemat, and the thing seems to now be properly centered and isn't loose and sloppy like the original design.  It seems to track quite a bit better when under power.  Now we just need to go sailing to test it out.

We're about to head out to the Paella fest and with luck tomorrow we will go find a nice quiet spot to sit on the hook for a couple days while we wait for the dinghy and canvas work to finish.