Saturday, April 30, 2016

April 22, 2016 - Puerto Los Gatos

We always have a plan (or a tentative plan) that takes us at least a week or two into the future.  Usually it is much more of a plan than we will have on this current trip. On this last outing we are basically “killing time” while we wait for the ship that will take Adagio from La Paz to Victoria B.C. and it is not due for about a month.  We love the middle Sea of Cortez so we are heading north to spend our final month cruising this wonderful part of Mexico.  It is quite nice to have a plan that does not outline our next 5 or 6 stops, or where we will be in a week or two.  On this trip we just need to be back to La Paz in about a month.  This time out we will revisit our favorite anchorages, and visit a few new ones that we missed the first time around.   Now the major part of our plan is being close to a provisioning location approximately every week for fresh produce and to get internet access so we can keep tabs on the ship's timing.  

Los Gatos was our first fun stop (with no planned departure date) and we felt great about just relaxing knowing that we would simply stay as long as we were having fun or the weather forced us to move. We arrived by 11am since we left so early from San Jose Channel.  Other vessels came and left during our time there.  The weather forecasts are great for the next week, at least.  It was quite nice to not feel any stress from weather or plans to make us move on. 

Beautiful Los Gatos anchorage

A different view of the rock formations

From the other side of the bay
Kevin on the boogie boards

Cindy likes big pancakes!
Zappa finding some shade on the bow

We were here not too long ago and enjoyed the hiking and the beach so were happy to get back to being able to do both.  On our first afternoon that sailing vessel we mentioned in the last entry arrived and anchored just off the great sand beach.  Terrapin is a boat name that we have heard about many times from other family/kid boats.  The family from s/v Terrapin came ashore later in the day, with two girls, and we quickly introduced ourselves.   So great to meet them and that our kids finally have some other kids around – we have not had any other kids boats since our return to Mexico in January.  We had a beach afternoon together, and a fire at night with the family from s/v Terrapin where we used up the last of our graham crackers, crazy flavored marshmallows, and chocolate.  Plus we got to have some great adult conversation with parents on the same adventure we are on!  We hope to catch up with them in the next few weeks while they also remain in the middle sea.

Jessica, Kevin, Cindy, and Emma making a swimming pool
Cindy climbing the rocks.  Terrapin in the background.  Moon rising.
Jessica, Emma, and Cindy
Our beach fire with the family from Terrapin.  Smores, and fun!
While we were here we went snorkeling several times.  There are 3 good spots that we have found so far.  One is a rocky shoreline with a large shelf and the other two are reefs that extend into the bay on the south side.  All three were excellent with a wide assortment of fish to observe.  

Snorkeling the North reef

Following a ray

Kevin dives deep

A striped eel.  First good view of an eel for us

The hiking is great here too.  The red sand stone is so different and interesting.  We took several hikes at various locations throughout the bay.  There are also 4 sand beaches here.  One of them is simply fantastic with clean white sand and nice shallow water to play in.  The kids found a perfect skim boarding spot and spent hours riding their skim boards.  With so much to do, it is easy for the days to pass by while in Puerto Los Gatos....  We spent 3 full days having a great time here.

Great shoreline to explore
These Mexican crabs are FAST.  They can even jump from rock to rock
Kevin doing a little "cliff jumping"
One more time!
Cindy getting ready for another skim board attempt

Kevin gets burried in the sand.  Fun times.

Kevin burying Cindy in the sand

Cindy now trapped in the sand.  Both kids found out how hard it is to get out
once buried.  The sand is heavy and it's almost impossible to break free.
Climbing the very loose shale-like rocks
Near the top of this ridge
A Frigate flies by another interesting rock formation
Where's Cindy?  Wonderful formations.
Adagio peacefully anchored in Los Gatos
We are not sure what this is/was used for, but it's getting a little beat up by the
weather now.  Most of the roof is gone.
View of the north end of the bay.  Nice!

April 19, 2016 - Punta Salinas

We left the anchorage in La Paz at about 6:45AM in order to get to the Marina Palmira fuel dock to purchase 600 liters of diesel.  This should last us for the next month while in Mexico, as well as give us enough fuel to bring the boat back to La Conner from Victoria British Columbia.  Fuel prices are better here than last year but still exceed USA pricing.  Marina Palmira charges a “docking fee” where you pay an extra charge per liter just for the privileged of tying up to the fuel dock.  Plus there is a nice 18% Mexican tax on top of it all, so we are minimizing our fuel purchases in Mexico.  The fuel pricing is government regulated though so nice that we know we do not need to research and try to find the cheapest location.  We have heard that some fuel docks don't charge the docking fee while others do.  We are not sure how this works throughout Mexico.  The Marina De La Paz fuel dock is closed this season, and the Marina Costa Baja fuel dock is out of commission to pleasure craft for 3-4 days while a mega-yacht refuels.  Marina Palmira was our only remaining option.  We will do a little research back home to find the cheapest diesel and then fill Adagio's 4 fuel tanks.  This will take us to Alaska and back with plenty to spare.  In fact we may not need to visit a fuel dock again until 2017.

We were fueled and underway at 8am leaving the La Paz basin northward for a month.  There is a women’s sailing group out right now so we expect that Isla San Francisco would need to be passed by.  60+ women have gathered in La Paz for the "women who sail" group and they have chartered a fleet of boats for a week of sailing.  We were correct about Isla San Francisco (or so we believe) as there were about 15 sailboats in there and more appeared headed that direction.  So we decided to go a bit further north and anchor at Bahia Salinas across from San Evaristo.  A bit of a long day, arriving at 4pm or so.  As dusk was approaching we noticed the water was suddenly filled with something strange.  The surface was covered with little jelly-like creatures that gave the water's surface a texture similar to a slurpee.  We were not sure if this was a jellyfish or what so we collected some in a bowl to get a closer look.  Later a friend told us he thought we saw what is called “string of pearls.”  We have not found much good information about this creature, but the surface of the water was thick with them as far as we could see.  Tens of thousands of them, if not more.  

A bowl full of "String of Pearls"

Surface of the sea filled with these creatures.  (Picture a bit blurry - Sorry)

An interesting little fish we caught at the same time

There we also a lot of these eyeball-like jellyfish.  We have not found any
information about these yet.
Video of the creatures that surrounded Adagio

A little info we found on a Mexico Scuba/Snorkel info site:
Agua Malas (bad water) are also known as String of Pearls and are so small they are virtually invisible. They affect the skin with an alkaline agent and sting like nettles or a bunch of little mosquito bites. Usually found in turbid waters, these single celled organisms drift with the currents. A very effective preventative measure is a dive skin or even a t-shirt. The effects are just annoying and last only a few hours. If you find string of pearls, the only solution is to move to a different swimming area. Wash the affected area with white vinegar can be helpful, but usually the skin irritation disappears within a few hours.

The night was flat calm until about 4:30am when the rocking began, waves but no wind.  Steve and I realized we would not sleep so why not start heading north again, a 5 hour run, to Los Gatos.  The water was still filled with these "string of pearls" creatures so we knew we would not be swimming or snorkeling here.  We decided to pull anchor and depart in the dark.  As we got out in the channel to head north we saw a sailing vessel also heading north.  They were slightly ahead of us but traveling a bit slower.  We remained in sight of them for the rest of the transit, although they slipped further and further behind us with every hour.   More on that sailboat in the next blog entry……………

Panga fisherman getting an early start on their day

Sunrise while underway

s/v Terrapin passing the very tiny fishing village of Nopolo.
It's hard to see, but it is just in front of their boat.

Monday, April 18, 2016

April 18, 2016 - Future Plans

We have made a big decision and it locks-in our boating plans for the rest of the year.  We are shipping the boat from La Paz to Victoria BC.  We are NOT going to bash our way all the way up the west coast for 2,500 miles battling weather and seas and burning up a lot of fuel.  We have spoken with so many people down here that have done this long trip, and nobody has had a good time doing it.  It is quite an easy trip going south where you are traveling with the wind and waves.  It's a totally different story heading north heading into the waves and wind.  The trip northbound is called the "Baja Bash", and for good reason!  It's basically a torture test.

Click here for a good article on the Baja Bash

Adagio will be traveling with good company on a specialized yacht-transport freighter, with at least 7 other boats we have met down here this spring.  The freighter is coming from Ft. Lauderdale FL, via the Panama Canal, loaded with boats.  We will be loading our boat onto the freighter in La Paz sometime in mid-May.  It will take about a week to ten days for the ship to travel from La Paz to Victoria.  Victoria is a short ferry ride for us from home, so meeting our vessel upon arrival will be quite easy to do.

We will then cruise Adagio back home for a week or two to clean up the boat, remove items we don't need, pack items we do need, and to reprovision with food.  Then we are back out again for a summer of fun going north.  With luck we will be able to cruise Alaska this summer.  We will return home in time for the start of the school year.

Shipping it home will let us avoid the wear & tear and abuse the boat will suffer during that long trip.  We will save a lot of money on fuel.  We will avoid a lot of maintenance and repairs too.  Plus, we won't be exposed to the weather on the coast, and the sometimes treacherous bar crossings.  We won't be stuck in ports waiting for weather breaks.  Instead, we will be home quickly, rested and relaxed, ready for a summer of fun cruising up north.  To us it makes good sense to ship the boat home.

So, that's what we are up to for the next 4-5 months.

Some photos of yachts being shipped:

Here's two short videos showing the loading and unloading process:

Seven-Star loading

Unloading - watch this!

April 17, 2016 - La Paz

We arrived in La Paz, after stopping at several possible overnight locations along the way.  The first place we looked at was Candeleros where we had some great snorkeling last year.  But there were already quite a few boats there, and we have had some fantastic snorkeling recently so we didn’t feel the need to jam into a crowded anchorage just for snorkeling.  The next possible stop was Ensenada de La Ballena.  It was an empty bay so we entered, picked a location to drop the anchor and sat there to observe.  Unfortunately, it turned out to be just a little too exposed to the wind and waves and was a bit on the lumpy side.  Not comfortable.  So we motored out of the bay and moved to another location.  Ensenada De La Raza looked great.  There were no boats and it is beautiful with a shallow white sand bottom which creates bright, light blue water.  We anchored and began to settle in.  After about an hour we voted to leave because the bugs were absolutely horrible.  Once you left the protection of the boat’s interior you were instantly swarmed with bugs.  It was the worst we’ve seen anywhere, with the possible exception of Glacier Bay Alaska a few days after a summer rain when the mosquito “bloom” hits.

We decided to just go strait to La Paz and anchor out in the main anchorage.  The first thing we saw when coming into La Paz harbor was the Steve Job's mega-yacht.

On the left is the yacht that Steve Job's built.  It is unique looking.  We heard that
when it went to the fuel dock a month ago, it took 3+ days to fill and nobody else
could get fuel during that time.
We would go into town the next day and arrange a slip at either Marina De La Paz or Marina Cortez (where we stayed last year).  Anchoring here is always interesting.  The currents can be quite strong, and the winds too.  The boats do something called “the La Paz Waltz” where they dance back and forth, sometime not in unison.  It’s not uncommon for boats here to end up touching each other.  We anchored and the far end, only close to two boats about an hour before sunset.  One of the boats was a brand new Nordhavn 86' and the other a “well used” sailboat from Canada.  Steve occasionally turned on the radar after dark to take measurements to both boats  to make sure we were not engaged in some unexpected dance with our two neighbors.  It all looked good and we had an uneventful night anchored back in La Paz.

Our neighbor at anchor.  A very new Nordhavn 86'.  Expensive, and nice.
A pretty sunset welcomed us to La Paz our first night

The lights of La Paz.  It's a big city, with lots of big city noises at night, all night.
Music, partying, sirens, loud motorcycles and cars, jet airplanes, etc.
We put the dinghy down in the morning after listening to the morning net.  Much to our excitement, we heard our friends on s/v Namaste during the net.  We hailed them right after the net and arranged to see them after we got into town, figured out moorage in a marina for a few days, and recharged our telcel internet access device.  We got together with John, Cindy, and daughter Journey on Namaste for about an hour and then dinghied back to the boat to move it into the marina just a few hundred feet from Namaste.  We first met Namaste back in San Diego in 2014 the night before we left for Mexico.  We then traveled down Baja with Namaste and several other sailboats.  We spent Christmas with Namaste in 2014 and again met up with them in La Cruz on the mainland coast in the spring of 2015.  Steve spent a night with them up in Pheonix when Steve went up to search for an RV to purchase.  Namaste was also in Arizona searching for an RV.  We have stayed in touch with them since our initial meeting and we expect to remain friends for years to come.  They live in Gig Harbor WA and are returning home this spring, as we are.

One of the local boat yards.  It's been in business quite a while!
Cindy about to tackle a very large chicken chimchanga
at Bandidos Restaurant.
Kevin enjoying a frozen Mexican treat.  We haven't ever seen
these back home.  There are a lot of different candies and
treats in Mexico that we don't have back home.

We moved to the marina, and after getting secured in our slip, got on our bikes to go the one of the big grocery stores to reprovision.   4 people with 4 backpacks can carry a fair amount of provisions, but not all.  Things like bread, eggs, milk, chips, veggies, beer, soda, cereal all take up space and quickly fill backpacks.  We returned every day for several days, each time getting more items checked off the shopping list.  We ventured out on our bikes to get reacquainted with this town, where we spent 3+ weeks last year.  It’s a nice town, but it doesn’t hold the same charm for us that Santa Rosalia to the north, or La Cruz on the mainland coast do. 

Mega yacht that was next to us in the marina.  We have heard that it is (or was)
one of the yachts owned by Carlos Slim (the richest man in the world at times).

The biggest dinghy I've ever seen.  It has an inboard motor!  It belongs to one
of the mega yachts here and it is registered in the British Virgin Islands.
Steve sent Tom and Annie a quick email with our new found telcel internet access.  Tom and Annie are on s/v Tappan Zee, and were one of the boats we met in San Diego.  They were one of the boats we came down Baja with, along with Namaste.  By chance, we ended up on virtually the same cruising itinerary as them for most of our time here last year.  We met in bay after bay, all the way down to Manzanillo which was our southernmost anchorage in Mexico.  We snorkeled in many great locations with Tom and Annie.  We ate out together from time to time.   It was always great to see them already in an anchorage, or to see them coming into one.  It turns out, that they were in San Diego getting some boat parts and renewing their 180 day tourist visa and would return to La Paz the next day!  Sweet.  As soon as they got back to their boat they called us on the VHF and we arranged to meet for dinner that night.  Harker's Board shop has great pizza and beer (the only IPA you can find in La Paz, we think) and that night was 1/2 price pizza night.  We had a great dinner with Tom and Annie catching up on past experiences and future plans.  While we were there a parade went by.  We don't know what the parade was celebrating, but it was fun to watch and an unexpected treat.

View of the parade from our table at Harker's Board Shop.
We took advantage of our internet access to catch up on this blog, do some home schooling that requires internet, file our taxes, and update our electronic devices.  We also finalized our future plans, but we will save that information for the next blog entry.  It's time to leave La Paz to get in just a little more cruising before we return home.

April 18 Update:  We were going to leave today but our telcel banda ancha internet device stopped working last night.  We lowered the dinghy and went to the marina this morning.  There is a small telcel store a block away.  Unfortunately, they could not help us and the lady that speaks very good English was not there.  So we had to take a cab to the huge telcel facility a few miles away.  It is located right next to the very large Mega grocery store.  The young man at the telcel store was able to help us get back up and running with internet access.  Turns out that we ran out of data on our monthly plan in the 5 days we were in La Paz.  $17.00 later we now have enough on our data plan to last us another month.  After we were done with telcel we did a little shopping in Mega.  We will leave La Paz tomorrow.

The large telcel store in La Paz.  Kathy finishing up with the nice man that helped us.

We bought some delicious Granny Smith apples, direct from
Washington state :-)

"Mega" is much like the large American stores.  More than just groceries.
Very well stocked with great prices.  Very clean too.