Still Trying to thaw out (not chill out)!

Keeping watch, Mexican style
We shoved off from La Cruz early in the morning wanting to get around Punta Mita before the afternoon breeze kicks up, well it was a big non event, there was absolutely no wind.  We motored, and motored and motored, boooring, thank goodness for autopilots.  We couldn't even catch a fish to liven up the trip.  We did manage to spend one night at anchor at Chacala, talk about dead, no one on the beach, no banda, no action what so ever.  There was only one other boat anchored, a big difference from the last time we were there when it was actually crowded and the beach was hopping. 
There was no stopping at San Blas this time either, instead electing to make a beeline for Mazatlan.  The overnight was pretty uneventful, at least there wasn't a million shrimpers to dodge!  We raised Mazatlan pretty early in the morning and were amazed at the swell that was running.  Our track took us inside the islands and it was now you see the shore and now you don't, pretty scarey considering the water isn't all that deep, and the waves breaking on the shore making a heck of a noise and filling the air with spray.

Sunset at sea

Mazatlan from the sea
We lingered outside the entrance of the harbour watching the waves breaking right across, wondering how can we possibly go in safely.  After a bit there appeared to be a lull and we jammed the trottle full bore and went for it.  Jackie took a look back behind us and the "Oh, oh" didn't sound good.  The next thing the stern was lifted in the air and we were off, Garth from Irish Diplomacy said we easily doubled our speed, he had a ringside seat as he was walking his dog at the entrance when we came in.  Luckily for us we went straight and did not get pushed sideways, that would have been a disaster as the mouth is very tight and made even smaller with the sand dredge moored off to the side.  The waves quickly subside once you get past the entrance and we breathed a sigh of relief as we tied up at the El Cid fuel dock.  Another place that was familiar and gave us that "coming home" feeling.  Even Gladis, the lady at the front desk, remembered us from our last stay.
Erlin and Jenn
As we wanted to get over to the "Sea" before the season closed the stay in Mazatlan was fairly brief.  However, we couldn't miss a great feed of ribs at the Fat Fish, at about $12 for the two of us for a full rack each, there can be no complaints AND they are tastey, of course washed down with a cold Pacifico!
Now ain't life a beach
A Shack Burger!

Our crossing over to La Paz was pretty much a non event, we set off with a little wind, on the nose - where else, but it soon died and the Volvo was called into action yet again.  We motored the whole way, making the marina at Costa Baja early on the third day. 
Costa Baja infinity pool
Our friends, the MacLean's, were due to arrive and we busied ourselves getting the boat ready for company.  It seems incredible the amount of gear on the boat, a lot of it seems superfulous, but you never know just when you will need it, and some of it like the storm drogue you hope you never need!
Jack and Janice arrived on schedule and we had a nice evening at the Tailhunter, named for fishing, catching up on old times.  Last year we had convinced them to do the San Francisco to San Diego trip by promising lovely warm temperatures and winds astern.  Of course nothing could have been farther from the truth, it was cold, foggy and no, nada, zilch wind, so we felt we owed them a good vacation.

After a last minute glitch with the fuel filter, anyone ever mentions "don't over tighten plastic" listen to them.  This is definitely a case where if a" little is good then more must be better" is just plain wrong. 

About the only greenery around

Artistic talent wasted
Typical Baja skyline

Our first stop was Isla San Francisco, a beautiful bay with colours we last saw in the Bahamas.  There were quite a few boats anchored in the bay but it is large and there was room for everyone.  A walk ashore to do some exploring and stretch the legs was well received.  The island is covered with low scrub and cactus, the main inhabitants seem to be lizards and pack rats, plus the odd rattler.  We picked out way back to the dinghy rather carefully after learning about the snakes!
Dried fish

Pesky tuna
Dessicated parrotfish

The following morning the bow was pointed North again and after passing by a couple of interesting anchorages, but with lots of day left, decided to press on, making port at San Marte.  This is just a crook in the coast where you can hide from northerly winds, there are a couple of reefs to the east to be respected both coming and going.
Sitting in the cockpit we noticed an couple of black objects amongst the scrub and cactus, these turned out to be pretty skinny cows, goodness knows what they eat OR drink as the land is very arid.  Jackie, Janice and Leif go exploring ashore, crossing over to view the sea to the north.  The little bay is surrounded by high hills which are very much eroded and colourfull, especially at sunset.  The following day we set sail for Agua Verde only to be met with 20 knot headwinds and fairly bouncy seas.  Jackie, the admiral, ordered an about face back to San Marte and safety in the bay.  We spent the day reading and had some great margaritas at sundown.
Welcoming committee
Agua Verde
Agua Verde was next on the list and since it was only a short hop the trip was very relaxing and without the wind of the previous day no stress.  I can take that!.  This is one of the must see places on the Baja coast and well worth a visit.  There are a number of bays offering protection from almost every direction, so we chose a spot and dropped the hook.  It never ceases to amaze me how fast the Rocna anchor sets, a bit of a difference from the old Bruce.
We spent the remainder of the day exploring, going into the village, 250 inhabitants, and stocking up on cervezas at the one and only tienda.  This was pretty interesting as the beer is kept in an old rusty freezer, not functioning, but kept cold with ice from the ice plant.  The owners shooed the chickens from  under a big Pacifico umbrella, rustled up some chairs and presto Maria's Cantina.  We invited the husband to join us for a cold one in our best Spanglish and a good time was had by all.
El Bano
Mexican garden
The next day was also just a short trip to Puerto Escondido, passing by a huge hotel complex, we wondered just who would come way out here for holidays.  Turns out that this is a hotel/time share complex who very cruiser friendly - wifi in the anchorage and pretty reasonable food/drinks for such a nice complex.  We even got free Spanish lessons, although it turned more into Spanglish in the end.
The pool at Candaleros
Escondido, the town that never was
Puerto Escondido was a big surprise, what happened to the town that was to be built?  The lights are on but nobody's home, the town simply didn't happen.  There were some pretty grand plans but for one reason or another no one cape to the party.  Singlar, part of the Mexican government, put in a modern office, nice bathrooms, a pool and a boat repair yard, complete with travel lift some years ago in hopes that if you built it they will come.  The facilities get pretty good use by the cruising community and there is a pretty active yacht club which also raises money for the unfortunate in the community.
Unfinished Escondido
The port is totlly landlocked, offering perfect protection from all but the most severe storms, so we felt quite comfortable leaving our boat for the day and going into Loreto.  After conferring with the local cab service and finding that they wanted 450 pesos one way to town and 650 return, we decided to try our tumbs.  Now this is something I hadn't done in years, but as it turned out the old thumb still works!  Our first ride got us to the highway and after hanging around in the sun for awhile a pickup stopped and offered us a ride into town.  Jackie and Janice in the cab with Jack and Leif in the bed.  Now that is something you cannot do back home anymore..
What a great little town, there is a delightful malecon lined with palm trees, a nice walking street with trees trained to grow over which are trimmed and a nice square with a number of decent restaurants.  There also is an interesting posada on the square, done in the typical Spanish colonial style.  As our guests are due to leave from Los Cabos and public transport being a bit hit and miss on the Baja, they opted to rent a car.  In the end there wasn't a big cost difference, plus they could make the trip faster and do some sightseeing on the way.  We also used this opportunity to get a few groceries for the rest of our trip.
Intrepid hikers
The following morning the MacLean's left for the bright lights of Cabo San Lucas and the boat felt quite empty.  But things change quickly when you are cruising and just as we were wonding what to do next, in comes Full and By, last seen at Mazatlan and then Double Diamond, our last contact with them was a great dinner of sierra mackeral in Barra de Navidad.  We still haven't had any luck fishing but Jeff is a dab hand and they are always catching fish.
Steinbeck Canyon

Jeff and Melody, along with us, decide that a trip up Steinbeck's canyon would be good exercise.  Apparently Steinbeck spent some time in the Baja and wrote about his journeys mentioning the canyon.  It turned out to be a bit of a scramble, lots of big rocks and some scree.  We were warned about watching where you put your hand when you are climbing, more rattlers!  We went as far as our legs could take us and came up against a boulder which we just didn't have the oomph to climb over.  After a nice snack and drink we began retracing our steps back to the boat.
Our next stop was Coronados, meeting up with Full and By, and sharing some nice water time in their blow up chairs.  This is the first time we had felt like swimming as the water was warm and clear.  In fact we could see the anchor in 30,' nicely dug in amongst the sand, missing the weed on the bottom.
Our next stop was Honeymoon Bay, a really nice anchorage with a little nook that would make a perfect Kodak moment.  More exploring ashore and a good hike to build up the appetite.
Our farthest north stop was San Jacinco which afforded some nice walks ashore.  There are lots of shells washed up on the beach and Jackie had a good time picking, getting a number to add to her collection.
Boobies in the rigging
After this we retraced our steps and made our way back to Mazatlan.  The only exciting time we had was about 60 miles out from mazatlan we ran into a number of small storm cells, the wind would literally go right around, 360 degrees in a short time.  Later in the night the lightening started and since we are the tallest thing for miles there is a pretty high probability of being struck.  In order to give some sort of grounding we hung a length of chain off the rigging into the water and crossed our fingers.  As a precaution the handheld radios, the GPS and other small electrical items were put into the oven.  We also donned our lifejackets, took the lifraft out of the locker, tied it to the boat plus had the whale bag out where it was readily accessible.  We were that concerned.  Thankfully the storm went around us and all our precatuions weren't needed.
Flaking the sails
Organized confusion
Stripping off 25 years of paint

It was a lot easier going into Mazatlan this time, although just behind us a 3 foot breaking wave gave us a little scare but we beat it into the marina.
Since this was to be the end of the season, seems funny putting a boat away for the summer, there were a lot of jobs to get done.  It was a mad scramble for a few days before we came out of the water to have the bottom sripped and the boat snugged down.
We left on 14 May feeling a little sad but looking forward to going home and meeting with family and friends.

No comments:

Post a Comment