Having left La Paz on time, or at least on the day we said we’d leave (Nov. 25), we motored and motor-sailed (breeze on the nose of course) up to Playa de Bonanza; a gorgeous bay with a beautiful 2 mile long, white sand beach. We had a great afternoon and then settled in for the evening. Our sleep was not to be peaceful tho’ as the night winds swung around (to the SW which blows right into the bay) and kicked up to 15-16 knots. We woke early the next morning after a rather rocky night, got ready to go, and weighed anchor at 0715 hrs… right on time for starting down Ceralvo Channel with the tide. Now, if I was any kind of a navigator (we’d have never even found Mexico if I’d been in charge of course plotting :-) I’d have realized that we weren’t actually at the north end of the Channel to start with.. oh no, we were about 1 – 1 1/2 hours north of the channel… so there went all my timing… rats. But we persevered and even though the winds picked up to 20 knots, and the waves built up to about 4 footers… we carried on with Plan A. Besides, it wasn’t very comfortable in Bonanza anyway. Luckily the winds and seas calmed down as the day progressed. We had a great sail down the top half of the channel (renowned for its tendency to provide rather robust wind and weather for sailors) and then motor-sailed through the bottom half… arriving at our destination (surprise, surprise) about 1 1/2 hours later than we’d planned.
We’ve been to Los Muertos before. Our previous visit was a quick one, on our way north to La Paz last year. We were tired, exhausted really, and spent a quick afternoon here.. heading off on our journey at 0200 hrs. the following morning, in order to ‘do’ the Channel with the tide. That was part of the reason we’ve come back to Muertos, to have a better visit. The other reason is that Los Muertos is a good ‘jumping off’ spot for heading across the Sea to Mazatlan. Our original plan was to visit here for last night and today, and then head across the Sea on Wednesday morning… all things being equal. Well, this plan was apparently writtin in the sand. The weather gurus have decided that Thursday and Friday weather, and particularly the sea states, are fairly ugly. A ‘norther’ is coming and it’s going to create seas of up to 6’ every 4 seconds. That is nasty. The winds are forecast to be NNW 12-17 and that’s not bad… unless you add the 10 knots that most folks do to get close to apparent reality (is that a phrase??). You may see where I’m going with this. We’ve decided to chill out here for a few days while the norther blows through and the resulting seas calm down…. straight up and down every 4 seconds is not our idea of a good time. We’re in a beautiful place to hang out and we’ll have a little more time to finish up some of our little jobs and do some relaxing.
Surf Landings: One of the skills we need to acquire for life on the mainland… is landing the dinghy in surf. We’ve listened to many lectures on this and have benefited from the tales of woe spun by other cruisers… so we were fairly well versed on what to do. Even so, today we learned two valuable lessons. I’m stretching it to call the waves on this beach ‘surf’, but they were just enough to challenge us so in we went… looking forward to practicing what we thought we knew. On our first attempt we hovered off a bit, watched the waves and decided things were pretty calm… so in we went. Wheels down, prop spinning, all was good…. or, oops, was for a second or two. Seems I hadn’t been counting the waves and maybe should have, as one larger one snuck up from behind, grabbed our little expedition, and swooshed us toward shore… that’s when the bow dug in. Yup, turned into a submarine… Lesson one…. keep your weight towards the stern of the dinghy, and the bow up :-) The good news is the waves were smallish and we didn’t get too wet… we landed in one piece. Off we went and enjoyed a romp on the beach. Getting back into the water… wasn’t too, too bad. It works pretty well if, after walking the dinghy out into the water, I get in first (after starting the outboard), then Kathy does a belly flop in from her side, and I gun the motor. Not too bad for now.
Later in the day we ventured ashore again, this time to go to the Beach Bar for a snack… and we decided to use the handily provided boat launch ramp right beside the Bar. This time, with lesson one fresh on our minds, we held off a bit longer and waited and watched. Oh, we were very careful…and, confident the seas were calm enough and we’d found a ‘window’…. in we went…steering straight for the ramp, pelicans scooting out of our path, and as soon as we got to shallow water and felt the bump of wheels against the bottom, we bailed out our respective sides… except… wait a minute, I had trouble getting out my side…. there were wheels in the way…..ooops… that bump was the outboard hitting the ground and then kicking up (thank goodness it wasn’t locked down) and we managed to get the wheels down and the dinghy rolling up the ramp before the next swell hit. Lesson two: always make sure your wheels are down before engaging in a surf landing. They work so much better that way !! Speaking of which, we just love our new wheels. Last years wheels were the large ones, with a pin that you have to put through two holes underwater for the wheels to be locked into place. These new ones are smaller (so I can actually steer the dinghy with the wheels ‘up’) and they click into place with very little effort… much better. Tomorrow we’ll try again… heck, by Saturday we should be pros.
Getting ready to cross: Unlike sailing at home, where in most cases we have all the equipment we will need ready at hand. Prepping for longer crossings (such as this one that will be approximately 48 hours) takes a little longer. Not only do we need to find and set up the safety equipment (like jack-lines, harnesses and tethers, storm sails, and lee cloths), we need to prepare the food and meals we’ll need along the way. We’ll be back on 3 hour watches so won’t see much of each other, although it’s hard to sleep during the day when there’s so much beauty to see… so we’ll probably share the day watches and just doze off and on… Before leaving we’ll also need to hoist the dinghy up onto the bow and lash it down… and bring the kayak inboard of the life-lines and lash it down. The seas will be too large for either small boat to be hanging about on any racks outside the lines of the main vessel. All must be ship-shape before we leave and that includes couch backs strapped into place and security nettings hooked over open cupboards like the dish racks and book shelves. Even the cooler and freezer will need to be 'secured’ and strapped down.
Guess that’s all the news for now. Tomorrow is Wednesday and we’ll spend it pulling our little ship together for the crossing. We also intend to find time for some snorkelling and fishing. This place is just filled with life. Little puffer fish are swimming all around the boat and there are rays that leap out of the water sommersaulting and showing off their black and white colours. Pelicans, gulls, vultures and Frigate birds, wheel over head and the fisherman in their pangas come and go from the beach all day long. There’s a newish resort at the other end of the beach. We may hike there tomorrow. It’s supposed to have a neat model train display, a nice pool, and a favourable attitude towards cruisers….
So, that’s what’s happening with us for now. Sorry, but internet connectivity is pretty hit and miss here…. If you don’t hear from us for a couple of days, no worries.. we’ll write when we get to Mazatlan. Do remember tho’ that we can and do post our position report regularly. You can fin us (and a short comment) but clicking on “Where is Shannon now?” on the front page of the blog. Hope all is well with all of you…. Big hugs… CJ, Kathy and Miss Sophie.