Monday, March 28, 2016

March 28, 2016 - Puerto Escondido

We decided to return to Puerto Escondito for a few reasons.  First they have wifi and if you pick the right location in the bay you can also get cellphone coverage.  Second, it is cheap at about $10 per night to be tied to a nice secure buoy.  Third, we wanted to do a few loads of laundy and they have a nice laundry room here.  And finally, we wanted to rent a car so we could get into Loreto to explore some more, and do our last provisioning before our next major shopping opportunity in La Paz, which will be 2-4 weeks from now.
Puerto Escondido from the "window" looking west at the Sierra de la Giganta mountain range.  Beautiful and safe.
No town here though, just the marina.  The rental car company came and brought us the
car though and brought us back after returning.  A good deal!

We arrived Friday afternoon and found there were quite a few boats in here.  There were about 30 boats.  We are now seeing boats all the time.  Kathy arranged a rental car for Saturday morning.  We went to shore to register with the marina, do a few loads of laundry, and to let the kids have some internet time.  Somehow Kathy mentioned to a lady in the laundry room that I was a marine electrician.  15 minutes later a different lady approached Steve and said her husband needed my help as he totally messed up the wiring on their anchor windlass wiring trying to fix it yesterday.  Word travels fast.  Steve went over and took a quick look to assess what tools and supplies were needed.  Steve arranged to come back on late Saturday or sometime Sunday, depending on people's schedules.  

We got our rental car Saturday morning and took an hour drive into the mountains to visit the  San Javier Mission.  It was a beautiful drive in the mountains.  The mission was founded in 1699 and construction of the main building started in 1744.  It is one of the best preserved missions in North America, and it is still in use today.  It was an interesting stop, and a very nice drive.

View of the Sea of Cortez during our drive to San Javier through the mountains
Nearing San Javier Mission.  A green oasis near the top of these dry mountains.

Steve, Cindy, and Kevin in front of the mission.

The side of the mission.  It's a pretty large building for being built about
270 years ago,  It is in remarkable condition too.

Inside the San Javier Mission

Walking around the mission

Some type of official ceremony going on.  The Pastor/Priest lit a candle outside
and is now carrying it into the mission.
We walked a little around the small village next to San Javier Mission.  We also drove through some of the side streets to get a glimpse of life here.  It's very remote and basic.

San Javier mass-transit.  Ha Ha
We spent several hours walking around Loreto, enjoying a great lunch, and browsing a few souvenir-type stores.  We drove to the the two main grocery stores in Loreto and then Kathy went across the street from one of them because she had heard that a little store there sells bulk foods.  We have had a very difficult time finding peanuts in Mexico, and we all like peanuts.  This little tienda had lot of nuts and even had the Costco Kirkland nuts we always buy back home.  Score!  We will now have peanuts for a while.  Life is good.  Many items are cheap down here but peanuts are expensive!

Spectacular mountains just a mile from the Puerto Escondido basin.
Sunday morning, after Steve returned the rental car to Loreto, he went over to work on the broken anchor windlass.  In an hour it was up and running again.  The owner was SO grateful.  You really can't boat down here without a working anchor windlass.  He told Cindy and Kevin that no matter what they think of their Dad, he's a HERO!  Steve isn't letting them forget it....  :-)

Puerto Escondido is behind those hills.  See next picture.

Adagio is that white dot between the hills.  This is a very safe harbor. in bad
weather.  It is one of the true "hurricane holes" in Baja where boater's seek refuge
when a big storm is coming.

We watched this cloud roll over the top of the mountain
for about 30 minutes, then it was over.
The kids hooked up to internet we get from wifi antenna and the marina.
All kinds of updates for several days.
YES, that is a sesame street big bird image on Cindy's laptop.....hahahah

Easter Morning.  No bunnies, just a large hershey's kiss this year.
Cindy's is sporting some reading glasses

We call these a "BOB" for Bird on the Bow.
Someone will yell, we have a BOB!

no suffering for food on this boat.  We made a cake on Easter morning.
Also, leftover waffles waiting for Steve to get back and eat after taking the car back.

Sunday, March 27, 2016

March 24, 2016 - Isla Carmen - Bahia Salinas

We left Isla Coronados in the morning with plans to anchor out in front of Loreto for a quick shopping trip, and then on to the next anchorage.  Winds and seas are expected to rise with a storm that is about to hit us and we want to be securely at anchor somewhere.  Problem is, it starts from the south with winds and the sea state and then clocks around until the wind and waves are from the norht.  This makes it necessary to move around to different anchorages in order to escape the changing wind and wave direction.  The forecasts here are not very precise, so the timing of these moves is a big unknown.  After discussing our options, we decide to skip Puerto Ballandra (we went there last year) and head around Isla Carmen to one of two bays that provide south protection and then move around to Bahia Salinas for north wave protection (not winds).  The bay is very large and shallow so we know we will be fine.  The winds were high for about a day and a half with winds over 25 knots most of the time.  We were lucky to get into shore to explore the ghost town prior to it getting too windy.

Walking in Loreto to the grocery stores

Sometimes shopping is easy in Mexico.  You don't even
need to know Spanish to recognize a product.
We experienced a truly amazing sight as we came around the north tip of Isla Carmen.  We could see what looked like a very "frothy and active" wave ahead of us, but it was actually a huge pod of dolphins swimming and jumping.  What a sight.  Here are some great pictures of us going right past them.
hundreds of dolphins swimming by
more of the dolphins as we were passing them
dolphins, dolphins, dolphins.  We could hear them breath!

Dolphin videos

Two videos from Cindy that she took!

More short videos of the dolphins.  It was an amazing sight

Leaving Painted Cliffs anchorage for Bahia Salinas, the moon is setting, about 6am.

Bahia Salinas was once a town housing several hundred people that worked a large salt evaporation pond.  In the 1980’s it closed and overnight it turned into a ghost town.  There is a caretaker and a small lodge where guests hunt sheep on occasion.  Buildings are deteriorating and there are a lot of rusty cars, trucks, and pieces of equipment to look at. 

The morning we were leaving our anchorage in Bahia Salinas.  The wind completely
died overnight.
Entering Bahia Salinas, a cloud, which we do not see often!

The kids playing with these ropes.  This structure is probably used to hang a mattress
so people can relax at the beach
An old shipwreck at the beach.  Adagio in the background which
seems far away but we are only in 11ft of water.
Kids drawing in the beautiful white sand
Max wind speed captured right when it happened.  Graph shows winds over 3 days
The following are pictures from the ghost town of Salinas.

The chapel is impeccable and the one building being maintained

Most buildings are falling apart and have lost their roofs, windows, doors, etc.

The caretaker and hunting lodge people have beautified the place!
A Mexican forklift planter box.  Cool.
Some of the buildings were made of stone or brick, or combinations of both
Some of the buildings were made out of coral, like this one.
Close-up of the coral block construction.
Some type of old cart which has become a planter box.
This Ford Fiesta will never see another road.  There were quite a few old cars
and trucks that are just rusting away here.
Kevin found this 70's Datsun pickup truck cab very interesting.  

Walking amongst the ruins at Bahia Salinas

Friday, March 25, 2016

March 20, 2016 - Isla Coronados

We came here last year and knew that we would definitely visit again this year.  The island is beautiful with white beaches and the volcano to hike up.   The morning after we arrived, we started the hike by 8:30am and were back down around 12:30pm.  It is only about 950 feet high, but there are several miles of walking across loose and jagged lava rocks.  The last 200 feet is steep and it is soft dirt.  The process of taking one step up and losing half of it is grueling, but knowing you are near the top makes it all worth it, not to mention the fun of running down it.  Last year Kevin ruined a pair of sneakers and this year Steve had a hole in his after this hike.  The rocks are not forgiving on the soles!

View of the anchorage from the volcano

The first part of the hike is easy, on a well marked trail.

How easy is this?  This "boardwalk" was not here last year.

Now the fun begins.  Sometimes it is hard to even see the trail

Kevin takes a break.  Yes, this is the trail.

Climbing up the loose dirt section.  One step up, one half back down

Victory sandwiches and lots of water once we made the top.

One our way down.  I wonder how many rocks there are on this volcano,
and how deep they are piled.
Running down the dirt section.   This was a highlight
both this time, and last year.

One afternoon we went over to the beach we love near the spit.  We had not noticed it last year, but this beach has a perfect section for skim boarding.  Steve went back to get the boards and the kids skim boarded for an hour or so. 

Taking a trip back to the mother ship for the skim boards
Cindy and Kevin are not the only ones hanging out in the shallow water
Tossing sand balls.  Why?  We don't know.
Ah, now this is the life!  Sand, sun, bright clear water, and the whole beach to
ourselves.  We are very glad we came back to Isla Coronados.
A 950' cruise ship off in the distance.  It is anchored in front of Loreto.  Not
a common stop for cruise ships.  The town was flooded with tourists from reports
we go from other cruisers.
Steve back with the skim boards.  Tossing the "anchor buddy" into the water to
keep the dinghy in place and off the beach with the falling tide.
Quite a contrast:  Black lava rock and white sand.
Kevin winding up for the skim board launch
Wow.  Beautiful!
Good times in Mexico.  
Cindy with her favorite skim 

Lucky Kids.
Both kids skim boarding

Oyster catchers looking for food.
Floating behind Adagio after a fun afternoon on the beach

We were ecstatic to see some old friends motor into the anchorage in the afternoon after our hike.  Two sailing vessels from our trip down Baja from San Diego to Cabo in 2014 (the so called Umbrella Dumpers group) came in.  It was great to see Scott and Tanya from s/v Kialoa and Gary and Karina from s/v Sea Rover II.  We shared evenings on the beach with appetizers, exchanging stories and meeting some new people as well.  The island has tourists come from Loreto so the main beach is full of people and panga’s during the day but they typically leave by 5pm.   Our second evening a group of college students came in with two professors.  They were from PA and here to study the geologic features.  We chatted with their professor and he claimed that this is the perfect classroom for a geology student.  He has been bringing students here for more than 20 years.  You can see it all.  He explained that back in Pennsylvania all of the geology is covered in trees and shrubs.  It is not easy to see.  In the Sea, you merely have to look at a hill and you can see the layers, or volcanic rock.  The professor noted that we are not in North America any longer as we are on the pacific tectonic plate.  He spent maybe 20 minutes with us but shared a wealth of knowledge and we were tempted to tag along to his hike up the volcano the next day (not sure he would have approved).  Lucky students who get to take a trip here for school!
Meeting up with old friends, and making a few new ones.  Cruisers are very friendly.

Roasting marshmallows with Tanya, and Scott (tending the dinghies) from s/v Kialoa