Monday, February 27, 2012

Catching up with a few new posts

It looks like we'll be here in San Evaristo for another week (that's right, another Norther!).  That works out nicely for us though, as it give us a chance to meet up with some of our friends from Maple Bay who spend winters here on the Baja in their RVs.

Contrary to what we'd been told, there's no cell phone service here. We do have Internet access though, and so I've just uploaded three posts from Carolyn, compiled offline while we were making our way up from La Paz.  You'll find her posts below ("La Paz... north", "The Anchoring two-step" and "San Evaristo").

We do have a few photos to add, which I'll do later after our trip to shore. So, check back in a day or two if you'd like to see them.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

San Evaristo to Bahia Agua Verde - a bit of everything

Hi everyone....

We've been without cell or internet coverage since we left Caleto Lobos (just outside of La Paz). We're compiling some longer posts for the blog which we'll publish as soon as we get back to civilization. In the meantime, I'll send this mini-post over the Ham radio... just so you know we're still alive and having fun.

We spent the last few nights at anchor off of the tiny fishing village of San Evaristo. We scored some tasty fish, fresh off the boat from the local pangueros (panga fishermen), made a trip into the micro store (tiendita), went for an energetic walk and shared a few happy hours with two other cruising couples (Deb and Andy on S/V "Swan" and Judy and Bruce on S/V "Juce" - who've been down here cruising the Sea for many winters).

Last night, after having monitored the weather forecasts several times a day, we made a more-or-less group decision to up-anchor early this morning and make our way north to one of the several great anchorages before Puerto Escondido. The first challenge (at least for me) was getting up and ready to haul anchor at first light. The second challenge, we thought, was going to be dealing with the 30 lbs of sea grass that we had seen other boats lift up with their anchors. We were lucky... our anchor and chain came up clean as a proverbial whistle and we had everything secured in short order and heaved a hugh sigh of relief as we motored our way out of the bay. Our friends called us awhile on later on the radio and told us that they had not been so fortunate.

We carried on and had quite a pleasant day... with a bit of everything ... clear sunny skies, flat water and no wind; clear skies, hot sun, flat water and a perfect breeze(for 30 minutes, we had the best sail we've had for months)... and then came the dark, ominous thunderclouds, rain squalls and unnerving lighting bolts, flashing from sky to ocean about a mile or two away from our boat. After the largest and closest flash, we were amazed to see a little panga come speeding out of the mist very near where the lighting had just come down. The three fishermen waved and hooted as they came by us ... celebrating their near brush with disaster.

Finally, after about 10 hours of mostly motoring, we made it to Agua Verde... one of the most popular anchorages along the Baja. There's a community of fishing pangas, a restaurant and proper tienda on at the village, and active goat farming on the hills. The local goat cheese is reportedly available at Maria'a we'll be sure to make the trip.

Our plan, as always, depends on the winds. We may stay here a few days and when the time is right, we'll move on to Puerto Escondido to reprovision, do laundry and restock on fuel (and rum).

We've heard Escondido has internet, so we'll check our emails and upload our offline posts when we get there.

talk to you soon.

Friday, February 17, 2012

San Evaristo

It’s Friday, February 16th, and we’re anchored in a picturesque cove called San Evaristo.  We’re sharing the beautiful view with about 20 families who live in homes spread along the beach and the land just up from the beach.  There’s a restaurant called Marco’s –  and to us who haven’t actually been to it yet, it looks like a very old roof with royal blue tarps wrapped around the walls – there’s no sign of life today but there is a ‘Pacifico’ sign so there’s hope.  We’ve heard the food is good and the woman who runs it is nice.  There’s also a tienda (store) but there’s no sign of life at that either.  And, there’s water available from their very own desalination unit, housed in a small white shed on the beach – but Antonio, the ‘water guy’ isn’t around. He lives in the small lime-green shack on the hill and his truck is there, but he’s not workin’.  It’s possible many of the folks have gone to La Paz for Carnival this weekend and/but that’s ok.  This bay is beautiful and well worth the visit. The scene along the beach is quite sureal (I’m not exactly sure what that word means, but if it means kind of unbelievable or something different than my reality… then that’s the word).  The shacks are spread out along the beach and range from crazily leaning stacks of poles to reasonable shelters with signs of life.  Up the hill behind there are larger homes, at least large by mexican standards. Most of the structures sport colours like yellow, pink, royal blue, lime-green and white.  Several are used by the panga operators (fishermen) and their crews.  The pangas run back and forth all day…some fishing and bringing back their  catch, and others obviously visiting other communities to pick up cargo and passengers. Now before you get to assuming we’re filling our faces with fresh caught fish and lobster from all these panga/fishermen… let me tell you that we have yet to score even ONE lobster or fish.  There’s a Co-op in place that has these fishermen literally tied to their rules… no selling of catches to travellers like us… they’re all spoken for.  We’re told there are indeed those that will trade tho’, and we’ve got a stash of trade goods all ready.  I just have to convince Kathy to put on her two piece and get out there looking ‘come hitherish’….  apparently my legs and luring looks aren’t quite what they’re after.  None have stopped by! 

There’s a flock of ‘local’ red-headed vultures (they look as big as or bigger than Sophie) that kind of hang out on the beach.  I guess they’re waiting for the  left-overs from the fishing panga’s but if their presence didn’t dissuade us from trolling Sophie along the beach, a few of the local ‘panga dogs’ certainly have. If the winds tomorrow morning allow, we’ll load all crew (PS included) into our little dinghy and go explore around the point looking for a sandy, empty beach for play.

We’re here because we’d been told it was a safe anchorage in a ‘norther’ and, indeed, there is far more protection here than anywhere else in the area.  None-the-less you have to learn to be carefree and comfortable with your boat swinging at anchor in winds gusting to 20 and 25… and that’s at the best spot in the bay, in the shelter of a large rocky prominence.  Luckily there’s no fetch so it’s all about the wind, and we’re getting used to that. The sun is marvellous and, because it’s too windy to bother going to town today (and because there doesn’t seem to be anybody home in town) we’ve declared this a day of rest on the boat.

We’ve tidied a bit, re-set the snubber on the anchor chain, changed the lines on the kayak to floating lines, read our books (I’m finally getting used to reading an electronic book… it’s a bit weird tho’), fished a bit off the boat (no luck), added some velcro to our heads curtain, redid the hand-line set up and generally relaxed as we’d been dreaming of doing. We’ll be here for the weekend as the northers are supposed to blow quite heavily all weekend as opposed to the light 25 we’re feeling right now.  So, we’ll hang out tomorrow.. hopefully we’ll be able to get ashore for a little visit… apparently they serve ‘huge’ beers at Marco’s :-) and a walk about…  Then, all going well we’ll wander further north on Monday morning…  it all depends on the wind… and they call this wind… a ‘norther’.     Later…  CJ

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Feb. 16th… the anchoring two-step

Had an interesting night last night… anchored in Isla San Francisco.  We were all ‘weathered up’ with information as to which way to expect the wind… and we’d studied the guide books and charts carefully… knew exactly where we were going to drop the hook.  It’s a beautiful bay with lots of options and, to our amazement, it was empty when we arrived…so we could drop our hook absolutely anywhere….  Yikes, that’s a lot of choices!  Anyway, just before arriving we’d been conversing with another boat on the VHF and didn’t they have yet another source for weather info. and didn’t their source disagree with ours as to where the winds would come from over-night.  So what did we do?  Of course… we quickly changed our plans and anchored according to this new information, completely disregarding all the info. we’d carefully collected.

I gotta say, these anchorages are not like those we’re accustomed to in BC.  At home, we don’t even consider anchoring unless there is almost complete protection from almost every direction and then, only if there’s enough room for a good ‘swing’.  Here, there is no such thing.  Your choices range from ‘not at all’ to one end or the other of the anchorage for protection from the wind in one, maybe two, directions… but definitely not all. So yesterday, armed with the latest info. we chose to anchor at the south end of the bay in a much shallower area but somewhat protected from south winds by a small hook.  Over-night, we did indeed start with a bit of the south wind predicted, but at 0200 hrs. the north wind (as predicted by our sources) arrived like a freight-train (it does that you know, you suddenly hear a roar and then in it comes) and stayed with us until 0730 hrs. when it stopped just as abruptly.  The most wind we saw was 22 knots and we had quite a bit of wave action to go with it.  Our trusty ground tackle held well and even though we saw 13’ at the shallowest, we never moved back… just up and down.

We’re having coffee now and the sun is finally up warming our cold feet and bruised egos :-) Very shortly we’ll leave and head over to San Evaristo for a few days of good protection from the ‘northers’ that are supposed to start tonight (our info).  It has a small village with a school and we have some school supplies for the children….  oh yeah, and we’re low on beer :-)  Bye for now.  Will talk later.  CJ

PS:  Ironically one of the boats that anchored on the other side, where we’d meant to go, just moved over and anchored beside us.  Maybe their ride wasn’t as smooth as it looked (the grass is always greener… even in the Sea).

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

La Paz…north (Coleta Lobos, Coleta Partida, Isla San Francisco)

Slipped the lines at La Paz… and voila!  We’re ‘on the road again’. It’s Saturday, February 11th and we’re done with waiting to go.  We….  [OK, wait a minute, I only just got started writing.. and I got called up on deck to see three Risso’s dolphins swimming by the boat, about 20’ away… just swimming slowly, together, by the boat.. it was awesome.] Now then, where was I?  Oh yes, well… actually… it isn’t Saturday, Feb. 11th… it’s now Wednesday, February 15th… really…  It’s been a few days since I’ve had time to sit and write… and so… I’m a few things behind….  please bear with me.

Saturday, Feb. 11th we really did leave La Paz… finally.  We didn’t leave as early as we’d hoped to, actually several hours later than usual… for us.  There’s always stuff to take care of, and check out, and well… good byes up and down the dock… so it was a little later than usual (sorry Dad it was so late it was actually 1210 hrs….not your usual 0600 hrs…. sorry),  Anyway, we did leave and a few short hours later we were ‘hook down’ in a beautiful little cove called Coleta Lobos about 10 miles from La Paz.

Our friends Jeanne and Tom (SV Eagle) were there, along with John and Kittie (SV Time Piece) and we had a nice gathering in Shannon’s ample cockpit for happy hour.  The next day Kathy, Sophie and I hit the beach in the dinghy and had a great time gambolling in the sand (yes gambolling!) and then we hiked and scrambled up a rough path/dry gulch kind of a thing… leading to a rough 4 x 4 (at least…might need 8x8) kind of a road… that led us to a view back over the anchorage and mangrove swamp…and out towards the highway (yes there were actually cars on it … well a total of 3 cars… that Sophie thought were ants…apparently she doesn’t have much depth perception)… So we felt truly initiated having survived the ‘in land hike’ and having truly ‘introduced’  our dinghy wheels to sand… lots of sand…  (who knew you can use the outboard to carefully and slowly bounce along (on your dinghy wheels) over smooth sand, in slowly shallowing (is that a word?) water…. on your long way to shore…. over shallow flats?  We did.. and it worked…and nothing broke. That day (Monday) we had a fun potluck dinner on board SV Eagle… and a good ol’ game of Farkle.  The next morning both SV Eagle and SV Time Piece headed out to return to La Paz… and, that afternoon. we were joined by Jim and Karen and SV Sockdolager, a Dana 24 bound for the South Pacific.  Overnight we were treated to our first experience with Coromuel winds. I won’t go into the details of what they are (you can always look that up) but I will say it was a rather sleepless night.  You BC sailors will relate when I tell you we were anchored in a whole 12’ of water, on a lee shore, with 20-25 knots of wind crossing our bows.  Nope, (or yup) I didn’t sleep much that night. But, again, we woke to another beautiful morning in paradise.

We left this little paradise on Wednesday morning, after coffee and a wonderful apple strudel on board Sockdolager (and we had a very interesting tour of all the neat things they’ve done to make life onboard their boat most enjoyable).  We sailed for a couple of hours and then motor-sailed into a gorgeous anchorage called Caleta Partida.  This bay is one of the largest anchorages in the area and separates two islands – Isla Espiritu Santo and Isla Partida.  It’s actually an old volcano crater, eroded away over the eons to become this half-moon shaped anchorage.  Although winds can funnel through the gap between the islands, we were the recipients of a wonderfully peaceful sleep…  no wind, and we awoke to a quiet, somewhat cloudy morning.

[OK, here’s where I want to stop for a minute and say something.  We left Canada, near the end of August last year, on an adventure that had to do with sailing in warm water with horizons of white sand beaches.  The dream held visions of warm water for swimming, great fishing, a beauty involving rocks and sand that I felt certain we would learn to love, lazing about on the sailboat, meeting the locals and absorbing their way of life, and miles and miles of beautiful sailing and scenery.  So imagine if you can… that Kathy and  woke up a couple of days ago… to find ourselves ‘arrived’… finally.  It’s a sensation I have difficulty finding words for.   Just this morning, as we worked our way north, it felt like we were in Georgia Straits…sort of… there weren’t many trees :-) and we were the only boat we could see.  BUT, it didn’t feel lonely… it was what we’d left home to find… beauty, nature, and us.  Hope that made sense…]

So here we are now, anchored in the most beautiful anchorage so far (I know, I know… they’re all beautiful).  It’s called Isla San Francisco and it too kind of looks like an old volcano crater (but the guide books don’t mention that).  It’s so neat we intend to stop again on our way back.  This afternoon (after we set our hook) Kathy and PS (Princess Sophie) took off in the kayak while I jigged for nothing (that’s fishin’, not dancin’) in the bay and not far from the boat.  Kathy and PS walked a long way along the beautiful white sand and pebble beach…  I watched.. and they had a ball.  Both came back to Shannon somewhat exhausted (Sophie more than Kathy).  So for today, we thank those who care for and support us, we revel in the beauty that surrounds us, we enjoy the silence that can be heard when all we have to do is listen, we cherish all that we are experiencing', and we hope that by these words we are in some small way… sharing this experience with you.  Thank you so much for joining us.     That’s it for now….  tomorrow is a new day.     CJ

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Preparation ain't half the challenge...

Well, we're still here. Nothing's wrong.. we're just slow I guess... Seems there's even more involved than I imagined to being ready to haul out when the time comes. Remember tho', this is our first time... so it's not as 'relaxed' as it will be a few years from now. The biggest challenge has been making a final decision as to exactly where we will haul out the good ship Shannon to then abandon her for 6 or 7 months. When I say "there are pros and cons to every location"... I really mean it! You can't ask even one person for their advice cuz they all have opinions and it takes days to find even two people who can agree on one or two points. That being said, every crew has their unique needs, and ours' is no exception. Some of the 'opinions' and facts that we have to sift through include price (ranges from approx. $900 to $3000 US), expected heat (San Carlos is much hotter than La Paz - but they both get very hot), the type of lifters employed (special trailers vs. antiquated slings), the types of support employed (questionable dirt yards vs. newish cement pads), the types of weather expected (you know, light stuff like monsoon rains and hurricane winds), whether or not you can do your own work or have to pay the yard crew to do the work, location (with respect to where we think we might be), Baja ferries that you might need to actually get to your boat next season, parking facilities for whatever vehicle you may drive back, and so on and so on... oh yeah, even where you will stay while you're prepping your boat to hoist or to splash back... and whether or not they will allow the princess to stay with us... and, if you find that hotel, whether or not there's a decent restaurant to feed at... oh, and moorage at a marina near enough to both the hoisting yard and the hotel to make sense... Enough already! You get the point. If that isn't enough to curdle your cereal... wait 'till I tell you about the list of things we have to do to actually ready 'the good ship' well enough that she'll actually survive the experience! It's enough to make you think about staying home. I'll see if Kathy can add a link to this post so as to share our tudu list with respect to that lovely task. And, if you think I'm 'old' (my baby sister does), think about the fact that the dear ship Shannon will be 37 years old in April of 2012!

OK, I know I sound like I'm complaining... but you'd be surprised how many people think that this trip is all about 'having fun' and just 'sailing around'... It's a lot of hard work; probably the hardest thing I've ever done in my life (except maybe for surviving the police academy :-).

Fact is tho' we are just a few days away from heading out to those warm waters, white sand beaches, fishin' holes and small, friendly Mexican villages... all the reasons we left home in the first place... Can't wait.. we're more than ready. Northers are up for a few days so we'll hang here until Saturday... then off we go! We'll head up the coast and be back here by April 2nd to begin the pre-hoist prep. Until then.. it's sun and sand... and fish. Take care friends.. later... CJ

Thursday, February 2, 2012

February already...time to move

Hi everyone... guess you thought we'd abandoned you... but really, we haven't. We've just been living life in La Paz. As well, Kathy and I each took turns flying home to visit with family and friends. Well, actually it wasn't quite that simple. You see to get there from here requires a wee bit of planning and flexibility. Suffice to say, having purchased tickets for the bus to San Jose Del Cabo... and being assured the bus would actually run that day, we sat back and waited. On the appointed day, at 0830 hrs., Kathy (who went first thank goodness... cuz she wrote down instructions for me so I wouldn't get lost when it was my turn :-) showed up at the bus depot and was loaded onto the bus. The drive from La Paz to SJDCabo is quite interesting as it winds along the coast and we were able to see the water we had travelled to get to our current location. The next leg of travel involves a 3-4 hour flight to LAX which is then followed by another 3-4 hour flight from LAX to Vancouver. In both our cases the travel went smoothly and we each arrived safely. Kathy spent a week on the Island and the second week in Vancouver where she had some contract work to do... and I spent my week in Richmond helping prepare my Dad and his home for his return..yes, he is feeling better and, as of today, is back at home. 'Living' in La Paz has been great. We've met dozens of good folks and had fun exploring the small shops and businesses near the marinas. We've walked miles and miles almost every day as nothing is exactly next door. But the walking's been good for us and makes up for all the great food we've been enjoying :-)

After our trips home we're all back at Shannon now and still in La Paz...for just a few more days. We've moved marinas and are now back at Marina Palmira and visiting with our friends here. We enjoyed being 'downtown' and close to all the activities but it's really nice to be back here now, at a quieter and less hectic location. We'll be here for several days, unloading excess equipment into the van we'll be driving home and stocking up on supplies to last us, hopefully, for most of the next two months.

We've been very fortunate and a woman who is heading out into the southern hemisphere, needs her van delivered to White Rock... hello... it's a perfect fit. We'll drive her van and our excess equipment home in April. It should be a fun trip and Sophie's really happy about not having to fly. We'll probably drive back and forth from now on, but first we'll see how this goes.

We will be heading out of here sometime around the 6th or 7th and our course will have us wandering up the inside coast of the Baja. We plan to visit places like Bahia San Gabriele, Ensenada Grande, Los Islote, Isla San Francisco, San Evaristo, Puerto los Gatos, Bahia Aqua Verde, Isla Danzante, Puerto Escondido, Caleta San Juanico, Punta Pulpito and Santo Domingo. Our goal is to reach Bahia Conception and the anchorage of Bahia Coyote where we hope to meet up with members of our yacht club who will be there in their RV. I've included the names of places so that you can look them up if you're interested. We'll be 'blogging' as much as possible but internet connection will be iffey...

You'll be able to follow our travels by checking our position (over there to the right where it says "Where is Shannon Now?"). We'll be able to post to that, with a short comment, over the SSB radio and will do so every time we get to a new location.

So for now, know we are well and looking forward to finally realizing our dream of 'sailing in the Sea of Cortez'. Bye bye for now. Carolyn