Puerto Refugio and Adios to BLA

We had a very efficient plan to get everything done in the village and jump on the south winds and try to make Refugio in one day. And of course you know what happens to the best laid plans… First and farthest stop was to get our laundry. Turns out it wasn’t quite ready. Everything foiled. We trudged back and did some other errands. By the time we were pulling up anchor at the village it was already 2:00pm. No way we could possibly make the 40 mile trip to Refugio before dark. So we set our sights on Alcatraz, just 15 miles away and hoped for more south wind the following day to complete the trip.CortezMap

PuertoRefugio Map

The Xs are where we anchored

The weather was honking by the time we were trying to anchor in Alcatraz and it was a wild ride into the bay, but we got settled in there just fine. Luckily, the huge swell was from the south. The winds are shifting to be predominately north this time of year and the weather is getting a bit more cool and comfortable, too. We awoke the next morning to being socked in with fog. What a strange sight! I felt like I was in Moss Landing again, except for I wasn’t wearing multiple layers of clothes (if any). The fog burned off to a distant memory by 7:00am and we were soon heading off into NORTH wind to our Northern destination. We had to make some big long tacks across the channel between the Baja and the huge island of Isla Angel de la Guarda (Puerto Refugio is at the northern tip of this island). It took ALL day to go 25 miles and the captain and crew were at each other’s throats pretty much the entire time.   Things quieted down to sheer awe upon nearing Roca Vela (this GIGANTIC sail shaped rock sticking out at the eastern side of Puerto Refugio bay) and seeing the unbelievably beautiful multi-colored mountains up close on the island.

Roca Vela1 Angel dela Guarda mtnsAngeldelaGuarda mtns2We were glad to be anchored in the West Bay area of Refugio just before dark. Kris and Kirk were over in the Middle Bight, so we did not see them, but they did check in on the radio that evening. It was a fairly rolly and buggy night, so the next morning we told the West Bay “see ya later” (and meant it, it was beautiful and we looked forward to exploring it more!) and headed over to give the East Bight a try. We went through b a very narrow passage and out around the rock islands, past the middle bight. We got a good overview of the giant playground that is Puerto Refugio on the way over.   The mind boggling “Fang Rock” looks like some sort of white sculpture – giant pointy rocks going on all directions, painted white with bird guano. I couldn’t wait to dinghy out to it.Fang Rock

East Bight Summer

The East Bight wasn’t as pretty as the rest of the area seemed. We anchored near to a small reef and rock island. The beach looked like a fun one to explore.East Bight beach Jonny Fat CactusIt seemed pretty open to the north and we were hoping there wouldn’t be any north winds. We spent two nights here, met with Kris and Kirk on the beach and got to see Azul coming in from the north.East Bight Azul LLdinghy I know, they weren’t SUPPOSED to be coming from the north, but they had an even worse trip up then us and ended up heaving to overnight (as they arrived in the night and it’s not good to try to anchor somewhere unfamiliar at night) and drifting past Refugio. They ended up around the far western side of the middle bight. We gave the Middle Bight a try as the winds were shifting to see if it was less rolly than the East. We got to explore the huge beach with brownish red sands and amazing rocks and shells.Arch Rock Middle Bight BeachMiddle bight mtnsWe also dinghied out to Fang Rock and there we ran into Azul and we all had fun snorkeling around it. I got to swim with a sea turtle!

The reports we’d been hearing all summer about 40 foot underwater visibility in Refugio did not hold true for our late-in-the-season visit. But there was still plenty to see. Jonny speared a fish for dinner and Azul got some yummy eats as well. The wind turned north and we had to get out of the Middle Bight. Azul and Linger Longer got over to the West Bay before us and got the sweet little spot at Isla Mejia. We were a bit farther away but still in decently protected waters.   Linger Longer invited us all over for drinks that night and it was fun to catch up with everyone. We explored the amazing rocks, beaches, the little shrine on the hill. We succumbed to our desire to climb up and up…there was no trail and it was hard climbing, and SOMEONE may have complained the entire time (who? me?) but the views were amazing and the climb back down was slightly less terrifying than anticipated. Jonny at top hikeClimb view footThat’s my problem (well, one of many), I generally have no fear climbing up things, but it’s the coming down part where I panic (sometimes). One day, Jonny dropped me off at a small Island that forms part of the West Bay. I started to climb upwards and all of a sudden a huge downpour started! I made by way back to the beach and hid in a bit of a cave until it stopped. The sun came out soon enough and I started climbing again, not looking down until I was pretty far up. I realized I was not able to go back the way I came up…so I kept going up. I got to a nice spot with a great view (and took a panoramic picture that actually came out OK). I managed to find a different way to get down without killing myself.West Bay Pano

Isla Cave view Vela

Beach rain storm

View from my cave during the rainstorm

Jonny speared fish

Spearfishing at low tide – this rock strip is underwater otherwise and divides the west bay from middle bight.

I have to say, aside from swimming with the whale sharks, Puerto Refugio was one of my favorite parts of summer in the Bahia de los Angeles area. I doubt I could ever have grown tired of the green red, pink, tan and grey mountains dotted with cactus. We spent close to 2 weeks up there, until we were dangerously low on food.RefugioMtns

Linger Longer Azul Mejia

Linger Longer and Azul had a sweet spot!

Egg familyLnger Longer Azul Mejia2West Bay Mtns2

Big lizard

A rare Chuckwalla siting in Isla Mejia! He had no fear of us.

Refugio Vela SunsetCave view Jonny fish It was just us and Azul and we decided to take off when the winds were light. There was a rainstorm and what little wind there was, was right on our nose. But we’d rather have a slow sail or have to motor a bit than have a hellish ride like we did on the way up. Azul departed shortly after us. We motored and motor-sailed and finally got to sail for a bit all the way down to Alcatraz.IMG_6634 Azul arrived just after sunset. We snorkeled around Alcatraz Island the next day. The visibility wasn’t all that and after my ear started hurting on a few dives going after treasures, I just hung out on the beach.

Jonny and Mike were hot to summit the volcano on Isla Coronado, which was only about 8 miles away. We considered heading down there that afternoon, but there were some very dark and awful looking clouds just over the ridge, in the direction we wanted to go. Azul took off and headed out as we were slowly getting ready to go. We finally decided the clouds looked too threatening and we’d wait it out till the next day. Azul ended up turning around and coming back to Alcatraz for the night as well – it was just too unpleasant and the anchorage at Isla Coronado wouldn’t have been very nice, either. The next day Azul challenged us to a race to Coronado – we happily accepted, although we had planned to skip it and head to BLA village instead (the winds had shifted and the anchorage wasn’t going to be any good). So, the race became “to the village”! We are poky at getting ready and left about 30 minutes after Azul did. We figured we’d catch up and probably even pass them, since we are a bit bigger (very unusual for Summer!).   We sailed off anchor to insure fairness in not using the motor in the race. It ended up being the SLOWEST race in the history of races. About halfway to the village we kind of caught up to them, but the wind was so light we were barely going 3 knots! We couldn’t for the life of us pass them. To maintain that kind of adrenaline for so long at such a slow pace…well, it was hysterical and exhausting at the same time. We were all going wing on wing for a long stretch, and I hand steered the entire way. At one point Azul had a bedsheet out, trying to capture just a little more of the nonexistent air. We approached the village and were hoping to pass them on the inside then, but nothing doing. We had our whisker pole out, and it’s a bit of a clunky hassle to take it down, and we lost a little ground there. I probably could’ve jumped overboard and swam faster than we were all going as we entered Bahia. We were treated to whale sharks and a huge flock of pelicans, which was exciting. Lunasea was still in Bahia and got to witness the end of our pathetic and hilarious pirate race.

We had our four days all planned out in Bahia. We were going to attempt to place all our online orders at the sketchy wifi store, get all our chores done, FINALLY take Andres and Yolanda out for a sail, and be on our way across the sea. We had a date we had to be in Tucson, something that doesn’t not fit in well with the cruising life. We were giving ourselves ample time to account for weather issues and any other deterrents that would keep us from getting to mainland in time.   We had originally thought we had so much time we would be able to stop at Isla Tiburon and Bahia San Pedro before landing in Guaymas.

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Sunrise in Bahia

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And don’t forget the boat maintenance!

Miraculously, we got our orders placed (we even managed to secure an old 1950s workhorse sewing machine on eBay!) and our chores completed. I went over to Lunasea for a ‘last party’ (Jonny wasn’t feeling social) –and had a great time with Azul and Angry Seagull as well – we played Cards Against Humanity (I don’t think anything makes me laugh harder than that game!) and had Azul’s delicious soup and   Naomi’s famous cheesecake and my brownies.IMG_6645 Everyone was making their plans to head south and many had already left BLA area. When I got back to Summer around midnight, we experienced what I think was our first (and only) elephantes (strong west winds that are usually a common summer occurrence in the area). It was lucky the party broke up right when it did and we all got back to our boats just in the nick of time! Jonny and I took down the shade and secured everything as Summer was buffeted around and heeled over as if we were underway instead of on anchor. Very exciting.

We were soon down to our last Sunday, which was the only day Yolanda and Andres could take off from their businesses that they run at their compound. We had arranged to meet them at 10:00 am. Andres had never been out on the water before and he had a strong fear. We’d been prepping him all summer, every time we saw them, trying to plan an outing and our or their timing never quite happening. This was it – and Andres was quite nervous and cringing when we arrived, but he did not back out! We strapped a life jacket on him and we all climbed into Peugeot and headed for Summer. Andres was a good sport, although I did notice he had a death grip on the lines I had told him to hold onto. Once aboard Summer, it was pretty relaxing.

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We tried to mostly speak in Spanish, which was great for us, and Yolanda was a big help, given how excellent her English is. After getting settled on the boat, we asked if they wanted to go for a sail. We were fully expecting just to hang out and have snacks, etc. not really thinking Andres would be comfortable with sailing. But to our surprise, he said yes! We sailed off anchor and ended up with some really nice winds – sailing all the way down to the south Bahia. Andres even took the wheel and sailed us all the way back, under a reefed main, heeled over quite a bit. It was one of our more fun and exciting sails! It was great to see someone get excited about sailing and enjoying it and fun to have guests. We hadn’t gone for a strictly pleasure sail since leaving San Diego. When we got back, they invited us to come back to their place, and Yolanda wanted to give us one of her famous chickens (she does the Pollo Asado every Saturday) to take with us. We had planned to leave Bahia that night – say goodbye to the village one final time! We ended up spending quite a while hanging out at Yolanda and Andres’ house. I’m not sure which of their seven dogs I like best – they’re all adorable and well taken care of –Yolanda keeps after them closely – she has a big heart and that’s why she has seven dog and I think it’s 15 cats. Andres made us sandwiches and they gave us a whole chicken which was frozen still – all I had to do was roast it. They tried to give us a huge, frozen container of pork, but unfortunately it was far too big for us to keep in our tiny fridge!

It was pretty late when we got back to Summer, but we decided to make a break for Quemado anyway. It wasn’t that far away and we were able to make it by sunset. The chicken had thawed and I threw it in the oven with potatoes and carrots and we had a super easy, delicious meal. It was a stellar “Last Day”, as last days go, and we were excited to be heading out to new places. As much as I enjoyed our time in BLA, it did have a bit of a ‘trapped’ feel to it – while there were plenty of places to go, we HAD to stay in that area, within a daysail to Puerto Don Juan, in the event of bad weather. The desolation and isolation of the area certainly has its appeal, but I was really ready to have some better communications (cell service!) and feel ‘on the loose’ again. We were bracing ourselves for arrival in the ‘big city’ of Guaymas. Quemado and then Animas Slot were to be our last anchorages all to ourselves – with no sigsn of civilization anywhere in sight, and we appreciated it for as long as we could. Animas Slot is a tiny and beautiful anchorage about 20 miles south of Quemado, which was to be our jumping off point to crossing the sea. We missed it on the way up and I was curious to see it. It was an easy and nice sail – the weather being cooler and the sun not being so deadly was a very nice change of pace. The wind and seas seemed very rough as we approached and we were worried we’d made a bad choice. But inside the anchorage, it was nice and calm. We spent a few nights there and carefully listened to the weather. Jonny did some great spear fishing and I did some snorkeling. The seasons were shifting profoundly on us, I started shivering while rinsing off after a swim. The water was now warmer than the air. But sleeping at night was heavenly!

 

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Animas Slot

IMG_6698Given the forecasts and Hurricane Patricia building strength, we decided to just make one long passage to either San Pedro or Bahia Algodones, and be safely at mainland for whatever weather was going to make it up that far. No fun exploring the islands, but at least we got to see them as we passed by.

We ended up having a very nice 24 hour passage to Bahia Algodones, a little rolly through the night, but nothing too horrible. We ended up choosing Algodones because it was right next to Marina Real, and if the storm was really going to affect us, it looked like a great, safe place to hole up if we needed to be at a dock. The winds were perfect for a downwind sail nearly the entire trip – hardly any motoring at all! Neither of us really got any sleep, but we had nothing to do but rest up for the first couple days anchored at Algodones. It was a really beautiful bay, but clearly we were back in civilization. A towering hotel and lots of palapa restaurants ringed part of the beach near where we anchored and the marina and town were down at the far end of the bay and a huge, beautiful white beach separated our end from the ‘busier’ end.

Algodones arrival

Algosunset moon

I was of course desperate to get my cell phone working again, and since all my credits had expired, the only way to do it was to physically go to an authorized Telcel store (usually an Oxxo, which is like a 7-Eleven). I was sure there were probably little shops and probably an Oxxo behind the palapa restaurants. But as we finally went ashore, it turns out there was NOTHING behind all that but a lagoon and road and lush desert-like landscape. We heard there was an Oxxo somewhere near the marina. We decided to walk the beach and try to find it. We could have easily dinghied a mile or so across the bay to the marina and gone from there, but given the strong afternoon winds, a trip back home would have been wet and brutal. So, we left Peugeot upwind from Summer and started our long hike. When the beach ended and turned to rocks below vacation homes, I bravely clung to the rock walls and waded over the rocks until I came to a walkway that went up to a street. Jonny eventually followed along and we walked up into what turned out to be a fancy gated community. We got a bit lost in there until a nice guy pointed us in the direction of the security gate, the only way out. Finally we are walking along a highway, sure the Oxxo would appear soon. We finally stopped at another guard house of a soon-to-be gated community (it was just empty lots). The guy there was extremely nice and spoke excellent English. The Oxxo was a bit farther, just down the hill and around a corner. We thanked him for the information and started back on our way. He called out to us and said we should wait and he’s have someone give us a ride – saying he was going to send one of his guys down there to get his daughter a treat anyway. I wasn’t about to turn that down! Sitting in the back of an air conditioned SUV, I realized it had been about 3 months since I’d ridden in a vehicle that wasn’t on water!   The guy gave us a ride back as well, and we were SO grateful! It was still a long walk back for us, but the break had been wonderful and aside from charging my phone I got an ice cream sandwich and pineapple juice. I was a happy camper, even if my feet were not!

Algo infinitumclamps

This Infinitum wifi box was clearly in an horrible car accident and desperately needed to be liberated of a few nice stainless hose clamps… I can’t take him anywhere!

We made our way back to the beach to walk the final stretch. We decided to stop for lunch as the ‘famous’ Soggy Peso bar/restaurant. Soggy Peso viewA typical kind of palapa restaurant where you sit at a plastic table with your feet in the sand and get charged way too much for way too little. The waiter was obviously used to dealing with tourists and was only speaking English to us and was a little bit obnoxious. For some reason he asked Jonny his name to write on our order slip. He said “Juanito” the waiter said “Clint?” Si! Si! Whatever. We of course ordered the cheapest things we could, so I had a teeny shrimp tostada, which was all of 3 bites. For the price I was hoping I’d get three…but no such luck. Well, that was easy, we can happily eat at home now without wondering what we’re missing on shore! One of the restaurants had a band every night that played cover tunes, a decent mix, but predominantly Creedence Clearwater Revival. I saw a bad moon rising three nights in a row…and yes, I have seen the rain coming down on a sunny day.   The last night was the best though, because this one fancier looking place at the tip of the beach was preparing for some kind of event all day long. They had tractors grading the beach and they were erecting some kind of lighting structure. We were placing bets on whether it was going to be a wedding or quinceanerea party. As sunset approached we became increasingly confused – where was everyone? Maybe the party was tomorrow? If you are going to have an elaborate party on the beach in a gorgeous location, wouldn’t you want it to be daylight? Or at the very least have the ceremony at sunset? Nope. Not here. Guests started arriving well after dark. It appeared to be a wedding, but we had long since lost interest and went to bed. It was a very loud party, but earplugs helped. Until the fireworks show started around 11:30pm. We went out to see that and then I passed out again until just after 3:00am. The party was still loud as ever, but abruptly ended before 3:30. What an event that must have been! Had it been earlier, we might have rowed ashore to see if we could mooch some food and drinks.

On our final day we decided to try to find the ruins of the movie set for the 1970 filming of “Catch-22”. We wandered through the desert-y paths and land divvied up for future housing development. We had a rough idea of where it was from our guidebook, but it was very rough. We walked quite a lot, through some sort of sewage treatment swampy ponds (?) which were not stinky, and sort of pretty (lots of wildlife!). We even saw an owl out there! Cesspool1Cesspool2CatepillerWe eventually hit upon the right path and found our ruins. They were kind of “meh” but something to see at any rate. I don’t really remember the movie, since I saw it in high school (30 years ago?!? Yikes) so I guess we need to watch it again. Mosquitos or something was eating me alive, so I couldn’t stop moving and I was ready to be done walking!  Catch22 ruins2Catch22 ruinsjennCatch22 runway We made a straight line for the road and ended up at a chainlink fence. I was prepared to climb over, but luckily we found a way around through some trees. Then we tried to cut through a gated community to get back to the beach, but the guard would not let us through. He did his job keeping the riff-raff out! We walked along a drainage ditch until we came to another fence, and once again I lucked out with an opening to crawl through. When you can avoid climbing two fences, I’d say that’s a pretty good day. One final swim and we were pulling up anchor and heading to San Carlos. We weren’t sure which anchorage we were going to, we figured we’d have a look and pick whatever looked best and see what the wind was doing. It was a nice sail and I dozed a little bit (a little sleep deprived from the big wedding!). In the end we anchored up inside of San Carlos Bay – which wasn’t even on our ‘possible spots’ list. San Carlos at anchor

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San Carlos Summer  San cArlos approach2

San CArlos moonIt was really quite beautiful and the next morning we realized that our friends on Resolute there as well! We stopped to have a chat with them and then check out San Carlos a bit. There is a huge marina there and we were in awe of all the boats – it’s been a long time since we’ve seen that many boats!What we saw of the town wasn’t all that, we got a few grocery items and decided it was time to head to Guaymas. We were going back and forth on staying another night or not, but we were both feeling like we wanted to get to Guaymas and take care of all the things we needed to do before leaving Summer alone for a week.

We arrived at the anchorage late in the afternoon after passing through the long bay. There were containerships, tankers, shrimpers (oh my!) and what appeared to be (and later confirmed) a large nuclear power plant. We were DEFINITELY not in BLA anymore! Guaymas Arriving Guaymas anchorageIt was however, far prettier than I expected from all accounts. We anchored not far from Sang Vind and spotted Orion at the marina – they later came out and anchored next to us. We went ashore and went to the Fonatur office to be sure they had our reservations (given my Spanish-only phone call from the hot and sticky, plastic phone booth in BLA I wasn’t entirely certain!). Sure enough, “Summer” was written on their calendar for the next day. We found what slip was ours and went back to try to finish eating all the food in our fridge. Luckily Meghan and Jonah stopped by and we visited with them for a while and tried to snack away on things. Our refrigerator issues were not exactly a thing of the past. True, we managed to get through summer without it entirely crapping out on us, but we did have to add more refrigerant every 3 weeks or so, which meant that there was still a leak somewhere we hadn’t found. So we wanted to empty and defrost the entire thing and try to find the leak and leave it off while we were away.   We succeeded in finding the leak when it was almost entirely defrosted and fixing it was going to be no picnic. But that was for another time… I also convinced Christina in the office to let me leave a small bag of items in the office mini-fridge – I just couldn’t get rid of EVERYTHING!

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Fonatur Marina: Seen one, seen ’em all

 

Being in the city for the few days before we hopped the bus to Tucson was a bit of a blur. I think we were in culture shock after so much time in isolation, solitude and sleepy village life. Thinking about it now is like remembering a dream. There was a lunch out, learning the bus system, getting bus tickets for the long trip, cleaning out the fridge, packing and meeting some great folks on the docks. Before we knew it we were seated on a bus with movies in Spanish blaring through overhead speakers for nine hours. We made 4 stops, and two of which we had to take all our stuff out from down below and go through scanners (one was a drug checkpoint and one was the US border – which went without incident). Finally we arrived in Tucson where my Mom and Dad met us. They had flown in the night before and were staying in a condo they’d rented. The condo just so happened to be right downstairs from my Aunt and Uncle! We had a week of good eating, walks and hikes, laughing with family, shopping till we dropped (imagine buying most everything you need for a year or so in just a few days. Yeah, not my idea of fun, but so glad we were able to get it all done). I was so grateful that my Dad was able to make this trip and that he is on the road to recovery from his horrible illness. Getting to visit with everyone was a nice bonus on top of the necessity of renewing our visas and collecting material items.

Tucson Mom Art hike

Tucson Dad Shrimp

Christmas in November! Glad we were able to have our traditional Christmas dinner of shrimp and spaghetti with special calamari sauce together.

Tucson Hike ArtTucson Dinner Our CondoOur bus trip back was faster and easier than the trip down. We never had to remove our considerable amount of luggage until we arrived back in Guaymas.   When we stopped at the border, we were the only ones who held things up, as we needed to get off the bus and go buy our new visas. Luckily there was a gringo couple behind us – also cruisers – who said they’d be sure the bus wouldn’t leave without us. Apparently that had happened to them – bus left them at the border and they ended up having to take a cab ride to the next bus station in Hermosillo! When we left the visa office to go pay (you have to pay at a separate station and bring the receipt back to the visa office), we saw the bus was gone. We panicked slightly.   When we were done and went to hunt for our bus, Juilet, the woman we’d just met was waiting for us to show us where it had gone to. That was SO nice of her and we were extremely appreciative that she did that for us! The bus arrived back a full two hours or more earlier than we’d expected. We snagged a cab and jammed all our stuff into it and were back on the boat well before dark. I had all our new stuff organized and stowed before dinnertime.

Dinnertime meant we had to go out – since our fridge was off and bare as it could be. We went to a much-raved about place called Doney’s not far from the marina. It’s an old restaurant with long thin tables lined with little stools, not quite wide enough for people to sit facing each other, but they do anyway.   We each ordered 3 carne asada tacos but then I noticed a sign that said “Papa Loca”. Crazy potato? I had a vague recollection of Meagan (Resolute) telling me something about how good Papas Locas are, so I had to order one. I think in one bite it became my new favorite thing ever. It a huge tinfoil basket that probably was used to bake the potato, which was then made barely recognizable by being smothered in melted cheese, sour cream, chunks of carne asada, peppers and corn. Oh and potato is in there too, of course. I gave Jonny my last taco so I would have enough room to finish that ginormous mess. Our next door neighbors (who are awesome) showed up and sat with us and it was fun to get to know them a bit better. We were exhausted, well-fed and ready for sleep. Glad to be back home and looking forward to planning the next stage, the next season for us and Summer.

AND LASTLY…. We received TWO very generous donations over the summer!!!! THANK YOU so much to Laura Laura and Amy (again!!!). We are grateful for your support – I can’t even begin to say how much it means to us.

Thankyouawesome

 

In and About Bahia de los Angeles

*****Pictures have been added to the previous entry. Enjoy!*****

 

Monday morning found us ready to make our way back to civilization and see if we could fix our fridge problem.   As we approached BLA I was surprised to see it was quite a bit larger than I expected. We’d been hearing stories for so long about how little there is here and how much we need to do without. We were not expecting very much. Only Dazzler and Linger Longer were in the bay. We were happy to catch up with those guys again. As it turned out, Dazzler Dan had the same fridge as us (but six years old) and was also experiencing problems – albeit of a different sort. He had bought what we assumed were the last 2 cans of refrigerant in town and he had a hose that fit the cans. Unfortunately the other end of the hose did not fit our refrigeration systems and he wasn’t sure lack of refrigerant was his problem anyway – so he didn’t bother using any of it. He sold us (at cost) one can of refrigerant and the halfway useful hose. We figured maybe we could find either the proper hose with both fittings or at least part of a hose with the fitting for our compressor and splice it to the other.

We got a bit of local knowledge about places to check and we headed ashore, determined to get this thing sorted out. The first store we went to was sort of a strange mix of things – dry foodstuffs, some fresh vegetables, bicycle parts, gay porn magazines, automotive, mechanical parts and a mix of dusty, random parts in a dimly lit building. We looked around a bit and tried to explain what we were looking for. The woman turned on some lights for us and didn’t think she had what we needed. On a dusty plexiglass shelving unit, under some other things, Jonny spied some sort of hose in a package. We pulled it out and it appeared to have the correct fitting for our compressor! It was not cheap and, we assumed, not returnable, so we wanted to be sure before we bought it. We trudged back across the salt flat/basura strewn, abandoned campground area to the beach where we landed the dingy and went back to get calipers to measure. When we returned to the store, a man was working there and he helped us to measure and be sure the hose was going to fit our needs. We were also able to get a brass fitting to attach the 2 different sized hoses together and a couple of tiny hose clamps. Jonny went to work cutting our 2 brand new hoses and fitting them together. He then attempted to fill up the compressor with refrigerant. The compressor took an entire can of refrigerant (which is half the total volume it needs!). All we could do now was to wait and see if it got colder in the ice box and then turned itself off. Amazingly enough, it did! We were cautiously relieved (afterall, we did not actually find or fix any obvious leaks).

Jonny tightened the suspect fittings a little bit (they would not go far) and we are just continuing to check on that and see what happens. At least now we have some extra cans of refrigerant and a hose that works like a charm if we need to do this again! We loaned the hose to Dan, as he was still struggling with his system and wanted to give the refrigerant a try now that it was possible. He offered to split the cost of the entire fix (which, btw, was about 25% of our budget for the month!), but that didn’t make a whole lot of sense to us, since we were keeping the hose – so instead he gave Jonny an 8 pack of Pacifico when he returned the hose (he knew that would not be turned down!).   So, we don’t know what’s going to happen to us with this, we remain vigilant and for now the beer. Poor Dan had to go back to Santa Rosalia for parts, and we heard on the radio that he actually ended up taking a bomber mission up to San Diego to get what he needed. What a bummer for him, and made us feel even more grateful we still have cold drinks, frozen food and didn’t have to take a very expensive trip anywhere!

Refer hose

Now that we could breathe a little easier, we began reconnaissance of Bahia de los Angeles. I was pretty blown away at how much was available in the markets – I really was not expecting so much. No, it’s nothing like Santa Rosalia, but quite a lot more than expected. I even found my “sin azucar” yogurt! And Challenge butter. I was starting to feel pretty good about having this place as our ‘home base’ for a few months. The biggest market in town had recently burned down, but they were in the process of getting it back up and running. We managed to find the house where they can refill our propane tanks and even do our laundry. Given that there is no free water here, we have to pay around $1/5 gallons ($20 to fill our tanks, which lasts up to 3 weeks) – we decided that using that water to wash clothes by hand didn’t make a lot of sense. For just a bit more, we can have our clothes properly laundered and folded for us. Yolanda took our huge bag of laundry (mostly towels and sheets – we really haven’t been wearing clothes much to speak of!) and said it would be ready the next afternoon.

BLA Sailsculpt

The roundabout in BLA Village – makes for a good landmark to site on when sailing in!

In the midst of ‘fixing our boat in paradise’ we could not avoid noticing the whale sharks in the bay. In fact, two of them greeted us as we were anchoring. What huge and amazing creatures! I had not yet gotten to see one and was VERY anxious to jump in and swim with them – GoPro in hand of course!

Two mornings in a row I was able to do just that. At first I was quite scared – even though I KNOW they are completely docile, non-flesh eating creatures. I’ve just never been so close, in a bikini, to something that huge…coming at me with its mouth open. The first time in, I had Jonny bring me out in the dingy and we got close to them. You can see their telltale fins (mid and tail) sticking up in the water as they lazily zoom around with their mouths open, hoovering tiny bits of plankton. When we were close, I jumped in and started paddling towards one. The water was quite murky and not as clear as I’d hoped. I knew I was close as I could see the fin on the surface, but still no whale shark in view under water. I kept swimming and suddenly I was right on top of it! It was maybe about 15 feet long and I was over its middle fin and tail area, which moved powerfully and slowly around as they swam. I was a bit hesitant to get up near its mouth still.

Seeing them from the dinghy is also quite impressive. Every time we went ashore we saw at least 3 of them! Once, one was swimming right towards us and its mouth was as wide as the dinghy! It was probably close to 30 feet long. They often have little fish attached to them, going along for the ride. Seeing them never gets old.

On my second day of swimming with the sharks, Jonny was again running the dinghy for me (why didn’t he jump in too? No, I’m sure he wasn’t scared of them…or WAS he?!) and I jumped in and was getting courageous enough to swim up and try to get video of the mouth/head. I heard Jonny saying something about another one, but I had a nice big one and I was swimming with it, so I didn’t pay too much attention. Next thing I know, I look over my shoulder and there’s a whale shark about twice the size of my big one, and it’s got it’s ginormous mouth open a couple feet from me. As you can see, I thrashed around for a bit and finally got hold of myself and tried to get video.   What an amazing experience! We enjoyed seeing them for several days, and then the bay filled up with a bunch more of our floating friends and we didn’t see so many of them anymore. I’m sure we’ll find them again one of these days.

There is no cell service anywhere around here, which makes the rumor that Carlos Slim has a house in BLA seem ridiculous (he is one of the richest men in the world and owns Telcel). Would he really have a house somewhere he couldn’t use his cell phone? And if so, does he know something we don’t know? Hmmm Anyway there are lots of rumors about Mr. Slim floating around – this mega yacht or that resort belong to him, etc etc.   There are several phone services in town, and calls to the US range from 6 pesos per minute to 12 pesos per minute (around 40 cents – 75 cents) NOT cheap! Unfortunately before I found the 6 peso place, I had a brief chat with my parents at the 12 peso place. Oops. And I have serious doubts about the possibility of uploading a blog entry in BLA, but maybe one day I will give it a try. Until then, I just keep on writing– downloading my brain as it gets too full.

When we went get our laundry, Yolanda was not there, but her husband Andres was. We got our huge bag of laundry and asked him if he also ran the raspados stand down by the road in front of their house. He did and we finally got to try our first raspados (deliciously icy fruit slushies). We both ordered mango and enjoyed them in the shade and chatted for quite a while with Andres. He doesn’t speak much English so it was a great opportunity for us to work on our Spanish. We really hit it off and by the end we had invited he and Yolanda to come out to Summer. He admitted he’d never been out on the water or seen the whale sharks and that he can’t swim. He said he would check with Yolanda to see if she was interested in visiting with us and maybe even sailing.

BLA Raspados

The next day we went to get our fuel supplies topped off. Jonny had 2 five gallon diesel jugs and I had the 5 gallon gas container. There are 2 Pemexes in town, one just sells gas and the other sells gas and diesel. You can see the diesel one just up the road from the gas one. Both are a good walk from where the dinghy lands. It was quite hot and I was not looking forward to lugging a heavy gas container all that way, but there are no other options. I opted to stop at the first Pemex and get the gas rather than go the extra distance to the diesel station and have to lug it that much farther and let the big, strong man forge ahead without me to the diesel station. Well, I didn’t get but 20 feet down the road from the Pemex and Andres drives up in his truck and takes the gas out of my hands and puts it in the back and ushers me into the front seat. Donde Juan?? He asks. I pointed to the diesel station and Andres drove on and picked Jonny up, who was still walking to the station. We filled the diesel cans and Andres drove us all the way back to the dinghy. What a lucky break! He also confirmed that Yolanda was interested in coming out on the boat and that Tuesday might be the day. We figured we’d confirm for sure again on Saturday when we went over to their snack stand to get a pollo asada (BBQ chicken) – which Yolanda cooks up every Saturday (she was off buying 28 chickens for the occasion).

BLA Andres Armor

Andres makes amazing art out of large food cans! This is a knight in progress.

Sunday was the Full Moon Party at La Gringa – an anchorage just up from BLA. There is an estuary there where the tides flow in and out in a big curving, riverlike fashion. At the full moon, the tides are strongest/biggest and the water really rips out of the estuary as the tide goes down. You can ride swiftly along on floaties and then swim ashore, climb over, and do it again.

 

The above was written on time, as we were about to enjoy our first full moon party. As I am writing this current sentence, it is the day after our SECOND full moon party. It appears I have let an entire month lapse without doing any writing. We’ve just been so…busy. And uh, it’s been HOT. And we’ve had power issues so I can’t always run the computer for a long time. And…and…and… Well, I think ultimately knowing I have no way to actually POST a blog entry has kind of taken the wind out of my sails, so to speak.

I actually had to go to our ship’s log to remember where-all we’ve been in the past 29 days. As it turns out, we HAVE been busy!

So that first full moon party was loads of fun. Everyone that is in the northern sea on their sailboat converged on La Gringa. At that time it was 9 boats – 17 people total. There is one other boat – a trimaran, also up here, but it is a solo guy and he is apparently not interested in making friends (I’ve gotten him to wave a few times). We arrived a day early, along with Lunasea, and had the pleasure of checking out the estuary by ourselves, along with a few locals. When the tide is ripping out around the u-turn, it’s like a river and just gets faster and faster until it’s just too shallow to ride it any longer (when you scrape your butt on a rock, it’s all over!). The next day the whole gang was there. We finally got to meet Jay and Janice (and their puffball dog Buster) from Ceilidh (pronounced KayLee – must be Gaelic?). Jay and Janice are the net managers and run the SSB Ham net that we listen to every morning at 6:30am to get our weather and find out where all our friends are and what they’ve been up to. Fun to meet them finally- they have a palapa house in southern BLA and have been around here for years and years.

We all had a variety of flotation devices, hats, sunglasses, beverages, etc. You ride a few times, stop to chat on the rocky spit and watch others go zooming by.   It was a fun and relaxing day and as the tide dropped, so did we, dinghy by dinghy back to our boats to regroup. We all met up onshore for a pizza/potluck dinner. Jay and Janice had arranged for a local pizza place to drive all the way out there to deliver some pizzas! They were actually quite good! It was a rather mellow evening as we ate, chatted and admired the moon.

Gringa pizza party

Banana Muffins

My first ever banana nut muffins for the full moon party. I usually don’t like these, but they were pretty good!

I think we spent one more day in La Gringa and then went back to Village. Being in the village pretty much means the same thing every time, and I’m sure you don’t need to hear over and over again how we trudge through the heat to find groceries, struggle to use inconsistent and frustrating wifi, and suffer through the extreme tide dinghy landings (which usually means getting wet and sandy/muddy when you get there and having to drag the dinghy quite far to get away) and lug jug after jug of water out to fill up our tanks. We found the village to always be hotter than anywhere else, and the water temperature is also warmer than other places. We ended up making trips to the village on Saturdays, as that is just after all the fresh fruits and veggies are delivered, and staying as briefly as possible- just long enough to get all our chores done, before heading out to a better locale.

Coronado volcano bow

The volcano on Isla Coronado

There are a string of islands just east and north of the Bahia village. We decided to sail around the outside of them and head up to an area called Alcatraz, to catch up with Lunasea and others. We sailed off anchor for the first time. Not starting the motor not only saves on fuel of course, but it also keeps the main cabin much cooler. It heats up quite a bit and takes forever to cool down after we motor for any length of time. Also, the motor is right next to our refrigerator, which can’t be good for the efficiency factor there, so, lots of incentive not to crank up that motor! It was a calm and simple process and before we knew it we were lazily sailing out of the bahia. To make it outside the islands, we had to cut through a narrow-ish passage way, and with the wind not being in our favor, we had to tack back and forth many times to get through. Our track on the ipad looks like a bunch of zig zags. The wind was quite light and before long we realized at that rate we were going to take forever to get to our destination. Easy solution – change your destination! We ended up stopping at a little anchorage between Isla Coronado/Smith and Mitlan. It was a windy little slot with nice cool water. We did some fishing, spotted a large shark (suddenly swimming lost it’s appeal), took a ride around Isla Mitlan (which is nothing but rocks, but somehow seems to put off a surprising number of jejenes) and we went ashore on the nice beach below the volcano on Isla Coronado. Jonny has a strong urge to hike up to the top of that 1500 foot volcano – so a return is imminent. We couldn’t stand the bugs for long, though and we headed on up to Alcatraz after just 2 nights.

Alcatraz is just beautiful. A huge sweeping white sand beach, with a white sandy ‘dune’ over the mountain, there’s also a little island that shows great promise for snorkeling. We were happy to see Lunasea and Azul as we were anchoring. We had a fun potluck evening with those guys – Naomi made inspiring fish cakes and an amazing cheesecake. We hung out for a few days after everyone left. We hiked up to the top of the sand dune and got a great view of Lunasea sailing south. We snorkeled and enjoyed the beach for a bit. The wind died and the jejenes started to get bad. But we got good at putting our screens up and burning a toxic coil of death (Fumakila) disguised at incense, outside the boat before sundown.

Alcatraz beach J&j

Alca sail repair

Working on your boat in paradise…and with shade. Our jib canvas ripped off the sail and needed some strong man sewing.

Alca Sand dune top Alca dune top

We stayed perhaps a day too long…the weather got a bit rough and we ended up sailing south with 20-30 knot winds on the nose. It was not the most pleasant of sails, and our plan to sail only, around the outside of the islands down to the Don Juan hurricane hole, was quickly changed. We realized it was just going to get rougher, and given the wind direction we might end up sailing twice as far as we had to to get down there. We changed direction just in time to skirt behind Isla Coronados and go down between the island and the Baja.   It was supposedly not as rough (and if that was the case, I’m sure glad we weren’t on the outside). Summer got extremely clean! All the waves we took over the bow washed everything down nicely. I got pretty salty myself. We were really hoping rains were coming to complete the cleaning by washing away all the salt!   Later on, when people discovered it was us sailing that day, we heard “aaah, we were wondering who was crazy enough to be out in that!”. Yep, that’s us.   Sneaking around the corner into Don Juan was wonderful. There’s just a narrow entryway and you are inside a huge bay of tranquility. There is still quite a bit of wind, but there is no fetch at all inside, so it’s almost like being on a lake.   Manta, Azul and Lunasea were already hunkered down in there. To insure we would get rain, I took a spray bottle and washed off much of Summer’s stainless. Worked like a charm! We had some nice rains that night.

We managed to get over to Manta to celebrate Nia’s birthday with everyone, in between rains. Nia’s parents were visiting from Colorado, so it was fun to meet them as well. I asked Nia’s Mom if she worried about those guys a lot – and she said “Oh! You have NO idea! And thank you so much for acknowledging that!”. She’s just like my mom – even though Mike and Nia have been cruising for four years already (sorry Mom, I guess it doesn’t get any easier!). We had delicious cake that Dawn made and had a nice visit until the rain drove us all back to our boats to close the hatches.

DJ Cat tie

Manta’s cat Tigger – dressed up for the party

DJ Nia bday cake

Oh to be 26 again!

There are apparently a lot of little fish called golbies in this area. How do we know this? Because these little fish like to hang out near rocks, where there’s growth, or near the through hulls of boats whose bottoms haven’t been cleaned in a while… When tiny little fish hang out near the hole in the bottom of the boat where sea water is sucked in for the toilet flush, they get sucked right up in there! And when they get to the valve that opens and closes the seawater inlet, they get stuck. On the inside of the boat, this means you are happily flushing the toilet one second and then suddenly the handle won’t pump anymore. It is then necessary to remove everything from under the sink in the head, take up the floor board, shut off the through hull, dismantle the dry/flush knob on the toilet, remove the spring and ball and pull the little fishy out with a pair of tweezers. Usually the fishy loses it’s life as it’s squished in the valve, or happens to sit there overnight because you don’t feel like doing that whole process just before bedtime. Miraculously, we had never gotten any fish stuck in our toilet, since the beginning of boat ownership. And, somehow in span of 4 days we got FIVE fish. One of them actually made it out alive. We had just gotten finished clearing one out, put everything back together and away, and pumped the head to test it out and IMMEDIATELY got another fish. We took everything out again and managed to get the little guy out from the hose before he got stuck in the valve. I had him swimming around in a container, and planned to release him as far from the boat as I could.

Head fishie

As I was rowing the dinghy away to dump the toilet fish, I see Naomi riding a surfboard like a wakeboard, being towed behind Manta’s dinghy (they have a huge dinghy motor). She dropped into the water just near me and said “Hey Jenn!! You wanna try?!?!”   Ummmm. YES! Of course I did! So I give Naomi the dinghy and she gives me a life vest, and next thing I know I’m on my knees on a surfboard, holding a tow bar and trying to stand up behind a pretty fast dinghy. It was SO much fun! I got a few tries in, and wiped out every time I tried to stand up. I was exhausted, and so I gave Alex a turn – and took his place as spotter in Manta’s dinghy with Terry. Soon Jonny and Naomi are coming out in our dinghy and Nia and Mike are chomping at the bit for their turns. The day became known as “The International Dorkboarding Competition”. At one point, Alex, Naomi and Mike were all three standing up on a longboard. Jonny was quietly enjoying the show, laughing and hooting with the rest of us. I finally yelled out “Jonny needs a turn!!!!” and we eventually got him out there. He surprised the hell out of everyone (except me). He biffed it on his first try, but he was on his feet in no time and surfing like a pro. Funny thing is, surfing is quite different from wakeboarding – which he has never done. But he was definitely surfing. At one point Naomi said “Wait! You can’t DO that on a wakeboard…but he IS!”. I think the fact that the dinghy wasn’t as powerful as a wakeboard boat, and Jonny is more powerful than a mere human, meant that he could lean forward and still hold on without falling on his face (when wakeboarding, you lean back, not forward). I don’t think anyone had seen him smile that much. That boy sure misses surfing (he just has to hang on a few more months and we’ll be back in Chacala!). He did a 10 point dismount right in front of everyone at the end.

DJ Jenn pre board

We headed back to the village to refill our water and the other usual chores. Everyone was there and had gotten to the easiest water before us. The store was fresh out. They claimed they would be getting more in 2 days. Water comes from Mulege and is kept in a big cistern for this one place closest to the beach. We figured we could go a few more days without, rather than having to lug heavy 5 gallon jerry cans repeatedly over long distances. A group of people were heading north to Refugio – which I was really hoping to join. Supposed to be really clear water and great snorkeling up there at the northern tip of Isla Angel de la Guarda. But instead we headed just a short way south in BLA to La Mona, to check it out for a few days and wait for water.

La Mona turned out to be a beautiful stop. It had a lovely white sand beach with estuary behind and a sweeping mountain view across the bay. Scott and his dog Trox aboard Angry Seagull were anchored there. We had met Scott at the Full Moon Party and were happy to see him again. He came over with Trox and had dinner with us. Fun to have a big black dog on board!! We stayed for 5 or 6 days in La Mona. We enjoyed the beach, hiking up rocks, snorkeling with silly bullseye trigger fish (they are super curious but like to pretend they aren’t looking at you and when you look away they follow you).

 

Mona Summer Seagull

But the ultimate highlight was my first day going ashore. I rowed the dinghy in by myself to have a look around. As I was leaving, I noticed some movement down the beach – it looked like a seal rolling around, but it was way too far up the sand. I rowed over for a closer look and realized it was a giant Sea turtle mama laying eggs! I watched from the water and even up on the beach a bit. She didn’t notice me at all. She was working hard, bearing down in the hole she’d dug and then flipping out sand with her hind flippers. I probably could’ve gotten right up close, but I kept a distance of about 20 feet and tried to zoom in with my camera. I was kind of frying in the sun as I watched her, but I couldn’t tear myself away. She finally seemed to finish and was just laying there, exhausted. I was hoping to watch her cover up the hole and make her way back to the water. But she seemed to have fallen asleep. I wasn’t sure how long she’d be there and I was getting awfully hot. I decided to row back to the boat and see if I could get Jonny and bring him back to see her. As I was halfway back to the boat I saw her moving again and eventually slip back down the sand into the water. I felt VERY lucky to have witnessed all that. I’m trying to figure out how long it takes for them to hatch, maybe we can be back there to watch all the baby turtles come along?

Sea Turtle Mama Mona

Back in the Village, after six days, still no water! At this point we were pretty much out of water and couldn’t wait for what may or may not appear. Jonny rose to the occasion and made 7 trips with heavy jerry cans to nearly fill us up with 70 gallons. I did all the other usual running around. We had another rough weather patch coming. Unfortunately we were a little behind on this one as well. Our final trip back to the boat was a wild and wet dinghy ride. Summer was hobby-horsing wildly and getting the dinghy motor hoisted was a special treat. I knew it was going to be a wet ride back out to Don Juan, so I just changed into a bikini. I had a moment to stop and appreciate that – thinking how rough weather used to mean putting on MORE clothing. As we were getting ready to go, we got a call on the radio from Linger Longer, who had left much earlier than us. They were already in Don Juan and experiencing high winds (and tranquil seas) and were wondering if we were (stupid enough to be) still at the village. I assured them we were on our way over! Of course the wind was exactly on our nose and even motoring full throttle we could make very little headway. It was going to take us about 6 hours to go 9 miles, in horribly uncomfortable conditions. We ended up pulling out the jib and tacking off wind, which calmed the boat down and more than doubled our speed (still motoring, too). After just a couple tacks we were safely tucked into Don Juan again. This storm promised to be much more eventful than the last. Even the 85 foot mega yacht that is always moored at the village scooted into Don Juan (there seems to be a full time crew looking after that yacht, but never any owners visiting).   After another salty ride, Summer got another freshwater bath for a couple days! I took advantage of the indoor time to finally take care of organizing our boat manuals and our personal files. It was fun – I got to use my label maker again! Apparently, you can take the girl out of organizing., but you can’t take organizing out of the girl.

Organizing Jenn

When the storm passed, we decided to go and check out El Pescador – a couple anchorages to the south. There is a nice island there and a mysteriously deserted resort looking place on shore. Linger Longer departed Don Juan just before us and said they were also planning to go there. Anchoring between the island and shore was just a beautiful spot. Linger Longer called to say the winds seemed wrong and they were heading to Quemado (on the other side of the land), which is also a great spot. We said we were going to give it a go at Pescador and see if the wind switches or not and if not, then maybe go to Quemado. In the end. Linger Longer came in and we all stayed at Pescador.

Pescador view Jonny

We went ashore to explore this mysterious collection of building and palapas. We’d heard a lot of rumors about it (including that Carlos Slim owns it now…) – nothing is locked up and it’s full of expensive furniture and appliances. We wandered through all the buildings, at first full of awe and wonder, which slowly turned to confusion and sadness. Who on earth would spend SO much money to build this place (and clearly it wasn’t even completed) and simply desert it and leave it unlocked!? Two of the smaller buildings looked like people were living there, and had left expecting to return, but never did. There was a calendar showing Sept/Oct 2014. We wondered what impact Hurricane Odile had at that time last year. When we had our fill exploring the mysteries, we rested in an unfinished palapa and waited for the sun to stop shining directly in the cockpit of our boat.

IMG_6132

We celebrated the first day of Fall with Kris and Kirk – having a “We survived Summer in BLA” party on board Summer. Kris and Kirk brought amazing margaritas complete with ICE, and Kris let me borrow her heirloom antique meat grinder to make fish cakes.

Fish Grinder

Grinding up fish in the antique fish grinder. I want one now!

I also made a cheese cake (Naomi inspired me). I now desperately want an antique food grinder!! Oh the things I could do with that! And it’s so simple and uses no power, save for my muscles (which could use more to do).  The next day we went over to Linger Longer and had a ‘media swap’ – which seems to be a common things cruisers do – sharing movies, music and books whenever we can.

The day before we were planning to leave Pescador, we spotted a sailboat on the horizon coming from the south. The south? Who could possibly be coming from the south?? I wondered if it could be our friends on Resolute. Meaghan had emailed me a few weeks before saying they were considering coming to BLA in a week, but then nothing. As they got closer, we spied the telltale orange dinghy on the deck, sure enough! It was Resolute! I called them on the radio to welcome them in. They were surprised to learn they had randomly chosen the anchorage we happened to be in. It was a fun reunion. They had just sailed for 3 days straight over from Guaymas. We had plenty of fish, so I invited them to come and have dinner with us. It was great to catch up and hear about their summer adventures and get a lot of info about Guaymas, which is where we are headed in a few weeks. We made sure to tell them about the upcoming Full Moon Party in La Gringa and left them to catch up on their rest.

We headed to the village for the usual chores. We were hoping to catch a sierra on the way, but instead we ended up with a blue footed boobie! Poor thing got snagged through his webby blue foot and we had to drag him backwards through the water to reel him in. Luckily it was just a small hole through the webbing and Jonny was able to slip the hook out and he swam off and flew away, seemed to be just fine. He sure had a story for his friends, though!

Caught Boobie

We anchored in the village near Angry Seagull and Scott and Trox came out to say Hi. One of Trox’s friends from the village also swam out to the anchorage to visit everyone! I was afraid we were going to have to rescue him in the dinghy, but he just kept swimming and swimming and even went out to Angry Seagull after Scott had left. But he made it back to shore afterall.  Turns out he’s sort of the ‘top dog’ of the street dogs in town.

Scott Trox and friend

Back to La Gringa for Full Moon. Seems like the month went by fast, but it also took forever! Only 7 boats this time – Slipper had left the area, Scott’s motor wasn’t working and the wind was wrong for him to sail up here, and Scoots is exploring up north, but we gained Resolute. We had a fun afternoon riding the tide around and went back to our boats to have some dinner and prepare for the full moon and eclipse which came up just after sundown. There were a lot of hyjinx going on in the anchorage. Manta has a potato cannon and was shooting limes at Lunasea and Azul. Apparently those guys have been messing with each other quite a lot – there were stories about stealthy night boardings to shut off Manta’s generator and all kinds of crazy things going on between those guys. Funny stuff – sorry to have missed their last gathering in Don Juan, but I’m glad we aren’t lime targets, yet! People were howling as the moon came up and Manta got on the radio and invited everyone to byob and come hang out on their huge trimaran deck. Everyone went and we had a great time watching the moon turn red and then back to super bright again (14% brighter than usual). A few of us brought snacks so there were munchies and plenty of space to hang out (trimarans are pretty cool boats! Manta is wider than Summer is long I think!).

Just two days after the Full Moon Party, was the End of Summer party and Dart Tournement at “Duffy’s Tavern”, which is what Jay and Janice call their land base (it’s a couple of trailers with shady deck area and an outdoor shower and all kinds of useful land luxuries, including a great, shaded dart playing area!). Jay and Janice were cooking up bacon wrapped hot dogs for everyone (who knew I’d have another so soon?!) and we all brought dishes to share. It was our first time down in Gecko, or Southern BLA, or SO-BLA as they call it. It was not so blah afterall! Just across from La Mona, nice views and plenty of room for everyone. 19 people entered the dart tournament, so we played in rounds. I came in 2nd in my round, so did not make it to the finals. The finals round was a rousing game and fun to watch. Nia kicked the other 4 guys’ butts! She was awesome! J&J had prizes for the first 4 place winners – so everyone got a little something to remember the game. I had a great time hanging out with everyone – what a wonderful group of folks! I even got to use the shower there, which was a HUGE and luxurious treat! Jay and Janice had been offering it up to everyone, but only Nia and I took advantage. As we happily returned to Summer at sundown, we realized that had been our longest time on shore in many months. Nearly 8 hours on land, we were!

Duffy's Sign

Duffy's Dart Champs

Jonny in the running.

Jay at Duffy's

Jay, Proprietor of Duffy’s Tavern and mean bacon dog chef

Dawn Terry Eric take pix

Dawn, Terry and Eric

Naomi Hotdog proof

Yes, Naomi did eat a bacon wrapped hot dog!

 

Duffy's Dart Champs

The Dart Champs. Nia took first place!!!!!

The following day we intended to go to Puerto Refugio and see this place once and for all. Linger Longer also had the same plan, but as usual, they weighed anchor and were off long before we were. We still had to go to the village to get our laundry and some more supplies before an extended trip up into the remote and wild unknown.

Santa Rosalia to Bahia de los Angeles

It’s been over 2 months since I posted – and I got entries comin’ out my ears!!! But unfortunately the force of wifi is not with me down here.  Uploading pictures is not an option.  I debated whether to wait or post this without photos…I will go back and add them when I can – but for now here’s at least one long update.  I’ll send a message out to everyone when photos are added, in the event this is just too boring to read without photos (so many good photos!):

Our time in Santa Rosalia was fun and productive despite the extreme heat. We stocked Summer with all the provisions we could get our hands on. Even though there were quite a few stores plus the big Super Ley, there were still things we had trouble finding. We did get a hot tip that one smaller store stocked things from Costco, so we hunted that one down. I never shopped at Costco in the States, but now, finding things like a big block of cheddar cheese that actually has flavor, and Challenge butter, which is nothing but sweet cream and salt, and even canned tuna that contains nothing but tuna and water seems miraculous. It’s sad and scary how hard it is to find food products that don’t contain chemicals, fillers and other nasty, non-real-food-stuff. Mexico has already surpassed the US in obesity rates and I fear in another ten years, the sickness and diseases here will reach epidemic proportions. Unfortunately it isn’t simply a matter of poverty, either, since the ‘real’ food here (meats, chicken, fish, fruits and veggies) are far less expensive than the processed packaged foods and heavily marketed junk foods. People chug down coca cola in vast quantities (floating plastic bottles are evident in even the seemingly most remote locations) – but a bottle of coke cost at least twice as much as the same quantity of Jumex pineapple juice, which contains nothing but pineapple juice (and is ridiculously delicious).   Alas – I will refrain from making this a food blog! But for someone as obsessed with food and nutrition as I am, it’s hard not to notice these things and have troubling thoughts and feelings about them…

As will happen from time to time, or rather, frequently, when you’re at the docks, you succumb to what is known as “dock suck” – which can either be staying way longer than you’d planned at the marina, or getting sucked in to talking with folks for hours on end.   We were taking a breather after our day of laundry and we got invited over to Scoots for a drink. Eric and Vandy are from the Bay Area and we had fun getting to know them. Turns out they know how to turn vodka into gin (which basically makes them gods). I’m not kidding. Apparently there’s a kit and ingredients for this sort of thing. Seeing as gin is my favorite alcoholic beverage, and they offered me a sample, how could I say no? It was darn tasty!! They brought out snacks and Kris and Kirk from Linger Longer came over and it was a regular party. We had really just planned to be a little social and then get back to our shopping expedition and visit to the ice cream parlor.

It started getting kind of late and I waved off Jonny’s attempts to get me to leave a few times. Finally I realized we were in danger of missing the ice cream store (hey, I have my priorities!). We motivated and got up into town. The store we were told of that sold Costco stuff had just closed, but we managed to make it to Splash in time for a cone. That was a close one.SR Ice cream

OK just a little bit more on food…We heard from several people about this ice cream parlor we just ‘had’ to try. Splash was the name and whatever it was called, I’m always down for some ice cream. Turned out to be the best ice cream I’ve had in all of Mexico! Even better than the gelato place in La Paz. I think they made it all there and it was delicious. AND the shop was air-conditioned. Eating a huge waffle cone while sitting under an air conditioner is the ultimate indulgence when it’s 100 + degrees outside. I vowed I would get an ice cream the next day as well -since it was fairly certain I would never see ice cream again. Well, not for 3 or 4 months at any rate.SR bacon dogs

Unfortunately we had forgotten to have dinner. The ice cream was great, but I was still hungry and we really didn’t want to spend the money to eat out and cooking in this heat is so not going to happen. Right across the street from Splash was the cart selling bacon wrapped hot dogs. I know, gross, right? I NEVER eat hot dogs. Who KNOWS what is in them?!? But this cart is renowned all over town and we’d heard about it several times. And it DID smell good. And I WAS really, really hungry and these were really, really cheap. Yes, I did it. I ate a bacon wrapped hot dog with a variety of trimmings in a nice spongy bun from a street vendor. And I liked it. But I probably wouldn’t do it again. Well, not for 3 or 4 months, at any rate! My food standards continue to plummet.

On our second day at the marina, our water pump finally bit the dust. It has been giving us warnings for some time – the pump would run and run and eventually get enough suction going and start working again, but every time we turned it on it would have to start again. Finally the pump just wouldn’t quit running. It was done, it wasn’t holding suction anymore. Jonny had to tear everything apart and hope we had the parts needed to get the pump working again. That was a perfect day for me to leave the boat and work on blogs before I had to go up to my follow up appointment with the ear doctor.

SR Eiffel Church

The Eiffel Church. Yes, THAT Eiffel.

SR Odile boats

Souvenirs of Hurricane Odile. This is why we are going farther north!

SR Fonatur view

The Fonatur. Summer’s farthest right.

My doctor visit went well, he put the scope in my ear and the horror show from the last visit was gone. My ear was looking pretty normal. Very relieved about that. A few more days on meds and then I was clear to go under water again. There was no charge for the follow up visit, and Dr. Lopez had some silicone ear plugs I could use for swimming and he had gotten the anti-fungal pills I had wanted in case I had issues with the antibiotics. The pills cost less than $3.00.

I thought I would be clever on my way back and stop and say hi to the good folks at Splash. And maybe pick up a milkshake or something refreshing for midday.   They had Frappes on the menu, but unfortunately a frappe here is a coffee drink only (who knew?) and I couldn’t convince the woman to make me a vanilla ice cream one. I was too hot to be difficult, so I just got a lime popsicle instead. It was possibly the best popsicle I ever had. I picked up a sandwich for my hardworking boat mechanic and went to see if we would have running water again.

Luckily we had a kit of spare parts (thanks, Piff!) with just the diaphragm we needed to replace. There was still a bit of work to be done, and since my mechanic works so much better without my well-intentioned assistance, I made myself scarce and went back to the air conditioned office to finish blogging and take care of business ( managed to renew our USCG boat certification documentation online, that was handy, since we may not see wifi again before ours expires).

Our final shopping trip to Ley was in the heat of the day. We took our time walking there and wandered through the ruins of the old mining operation, which is partially turned into a park. All of the machinery and smelters and old structures were fascinating to me. Also the fact we could just wander around (much of it clearly dangerous to climb on or get too close to) with no restrictions was fun (such a non-US thing to be able to do – roam freely, at our will and leisure, responsible for our own safety…). SR MinePKbenches SR Mining rust SR MinePK Flowers SR Minebldg up SR Mine strap SR Mine stack SR Mine hook SR Mine bucket SR Mine doggieWe trudged the last hot few blocks along the dusty highway – and we very much appreciated the air conditioning in the big store. We efficiently loaded our cart with what seemed like a ridiculous amount of stuff (but of course we were following our list with pre-calculated amounts of what we’d need for the next three months). At check out we spent quite a bit more than I’d hoped. I had to pull out the credit card to cover a bit of it. There was some confusion, and the cashier took my wad of cash and immediately gave some it to someone else changing out some other cash drawer and it seemed to me we were being charged too much. But the cashier showed me the receipt with the cash amount and the charge amount. With my cash gone and the language barrier slowing me down, I just accepted what I saw. Later I realized we had lost 200 pesos (about $12) in the transaction – she had miscounted the cash I gave her and even had I pointed that out, it was all disbursed and unavailable to recount anyway! We were very sad about that. Also, after getting everything bagged up and distributed into our bags and back packs, I realized UH OH…I just spent ALL our cash…we have nothing left for the cab ride home!! There was far, far too much to carry. We got a cab anyway and had the guy bring us back to the marina. When we arrived, I ran (with a few bags of groceries) as fast as I could down to the boat to get our cab fare and gave the guy a little extra for having to wait. A jog in that heat was not the most fun I’ve ever had.

I spent considerable time distributing, stowing and preparing our food for storage. Somehow I managed to make (most) of what needed to be refrigerated fit into the refrigerator. This was by far the most packed I’ve had it though. We plugged away at preparing for our departure.   Given that we had about a 16 hour journey ahead of us, we planned to leave at midnight – thinking more of a convenient arrival time than anything. Jonny wanted to get in late in the next day so that we wouldn’t be anchoring and trying to sleep in the hottest part of the day. Seemed like a good enough plan. Linger Longer was also planning to depart, but they left in the early evening. We went out to wave them off along with Eric and Vandy. After they left, we got to chatting on the docks and somehow a couple hours went by (dock suck!). It was late and we were not ready to go! We had to cut short what almost turned into a fun party and got back to work.

We readied the boat – which involved getting the dinghy secured on deck, stowing everything safely, taking our shade down, canvas off, topping off the water tanks and giving Summer a final wash down and then giving ourselves a final wash down (goodbye free-wheeling water!). We were pulling out just before 1:00am, and I realized, having been up since 6:30am for a busy nonstop all day, I was actually quite exhausted. Hmmmm, whose idea WAS this??

It was a bit cooler and nice to be out on the water. It had been a very long time since we’d sailed at night. I had to get used to a lot of things again, remembering I couldn’t see the digital compass at night, and that the light in our pedestal compass doesn’t work and our chartplotter, which was bright and easy to ready, is completely inaccurate in Mexico (we mostly use it for speed and distance now, and for entertainment at how often it shows us sailing across land). I got a little panicky until we rigged a headlamp to shine on the pedestal compass and I was able to keep us on course as we got away from land. There wasn’t a lot of wind at first and we motor sailed along fairly comfortably for a few hours.

I was half comatose in the cockpit just before 4:30am, when Jonny put the motor in neutral and said “I think that’s a panga right next to us!” I peered out into the darkness and sure enough, less than 100 feet away was a big dark mass. All of a sudden, Summer slowed waaaaaay down, almost to a halt. Jonny blew the mainsail and we realized that we were caught up in a fishing net from the panga! We tried to free ourselves with the boat hook, and Jonny went up on deck and whistled and yelled to the panga. It was pitch dark, but soon a light came on and a guy woke up. I quickly learned how to say “net” and “rudder” in Spanish (neto y timon) and the panguero understood. He pulled on the net and that brought the nose of the panga right into Summer. Jonny fended off and I shined our bright spotlight down into the water so we could all see what was going on. We were not getting freed. Finally another guy woke up on the panga, annoyed by the lights, and then a third guy crawled out from under the bow (three guys sound asleep on a small, open boat, without a single nav light on…). I somehow made it clear that pulling it was not working and we needed to go backwards – which was dumb, and impossible…but he got the picture and they started up their motor and went forward and around us. The net came free and we popped the motor in gear and got the heck out of there. If Jonny hadn’t instinctively put the motor in neutral at the start, this could have been a much different story – one where we our propeller wound up the fishing net- possibly destroying it along with the fishermans’ livelihood. Also, had we been 60 feet to starboard on our course, we could have crashed right into their boat! All in all we felt very lucky for how it turned out.

After the adrenaline eased up a bit from that incident, the wind picked up and we were able to shut off the motor and have a bit of a nice sail. For a little while anyway. The waves and swell got pretty crazy, coming straight at us and we were bashing hard. The combination of darkness (no horizon in view), my still-healing inner ear trouble, exhaustion and iffy guts from antibiotics was “the perfect storm” as they say…yep, you guessed it – I got horribly seasick for the first time in 9 months. It was quite unpleasant. The boat was pitching around so much that I couldn’t keep going up and down to the head (even from inside the cabin), so I ended up just wedging myself and my water into the head. I spent about 5 hours in there. Jonny was not enjoying himself very much either. I heard him in the cockpit at one point, pleading with (Neptune?) “Pleeeaasseee! Stooooop!”. It was a most uncomfortable trip. He hove-to and was considering that maybe we should just turn around and go back to Santa Rosalia. It would have been a fast, easy sail in the right direction for the weather.   As sick as I was, I was horrified at that thought – wasting the progress (25 miles) we’d made, getting sick and still having to do it all over again? And go back to that dirty anchorage with no swimming? No…I was not at all for this plan. I did think maybe we should stay hove-to for a few hours so Jonny could get some sleep. While Jonny agreed we should continue on, he was not about to get any sleep and he went up to get the boat moving again. I went back to continuing to empty my long-since emptied stomach. Very soon afterwards, the swell calmed down a bit and we were able to have a more normal sail. I eventually turned the corner out of sickville and dozed off in the bathroom.   In the morning Jonny came to get me up and out of there, thinking I’d be more comfortable in the cockpit. I spent the rest of the day feeling like a large man in heavy boots had kicked me in the stomach all night. This trip was awarded the title of Second Worst Passage Ever (to be reminded of Worst Passage Ever, go back and read the Mag Bay to Cabo entry).

We arrived in San Francisquito Bay in the afternoon. We anchored not far from Linger Longer and did all our chores, got the boat situated and then snoozed. It seemed a bit cooler and the water temps were definitely more refreshing – down to about 86 degrees! It was heavenly. On the second day I went ashore with Kris and we discovered the pretty white sand beach was far prettier from the boats. It was windy, rough water, full of organic debris. We gave it a good try but concluded it was “meh”. We had all had a particularly rolly night and we decided to try the anchorage just south – it seemed to have more protection from the swell.   By the time we moved, all the swell had calmed down and Linger Longer decided to stay put. They departed the next day and we spent the rest of the week by ourselves in that anchorage and also moved up to Mujeres just a bit north (I think the whole area is considered Bahia San Francisquito though?).   Mujeres was a truly beautiful white sand beach with lovely water, plenty of rays and dolphins and invisible little underwater things that sting you.  We’ve gotten the little stings in various places, and I likened them to a bee sting. But, after getting stung twice in one day by bees, I can now safely say bee stings hurt a LOT worse. Bees were an ongoing battle in all three anchorages we had there. My thinking was if we shooed them out and made it a hostile environment, they’d tell their friends and not come back. But, spending an entire day shooing bees out of the cabin is not a sustainable life. They eventually start swarming on something – a wet bathing suit hung on a line, or they try to find the faucets. At first I was having romantic ideas of sharing water with the bees, and when some got on me as I was rinsing off on deck, I thought it would be wonderfully charitable of me to let them drink some water, afterall, what’s a few drops to me? And the poor bees, they are having an awfully hard time these days. The day before we left, my tune changed considerably. I got stung twice for no reason and my delicate fly-swatter turned shoo-er became a battle axe of death. Sorry bees. My patience apparently DOES have a limit.  I was very ready to leave SF bay – aside from the bees, I’d had a grasshopper on my pillow, a moth in my toilet and bed, and never-ending flies. I was getting pretty sick of feeling like I was camping and Jonny was having less and less patience for my screams and yells every time some critter surprised me.

On the day we decided to depart, we went ashore just after the morning net (6:30am-ish – where we get weather and hear where everyone else is and what they’re up to). We hiked up to the peak overlooking the anchorage. Jonny said he’d been looking up at it for days and determined the best path, but unfortunately once on shore he just couldn’t see it. I took that to mean he didn’t know where he was going, and when I protested that it didn’t look like a good direction, he suggested maybe I should go wherever I wanted.   That sounded like a fine idea, so I made my way up to the peak, in what seemed like a very direct and efficient route. Direct it was, but easy it was not. I was climbing up loose rocks and heaving myself up and over the steep parts. By the time I met up with Jonny at the top, I was red-faced, dripping sweat and not feeling my best. We did get some great views and rested a bit. Jonny informed me that I misinterpreted his words and should have followed him because he in fact had known where he was going all along. Hmmm. At any rate, I was too scared to go down the way I came up, so I followed him back. His route was at least twice as long as mine, and if you subtracted the long, easy parts, probably not much less work. But at least I had someone on the downside to catch me if I fell. All I wanted for the majority of the hike – up and down, was to be neck deep in the water down below. As soon as we got to the beach, I did just that.   I find more and more that I’m far happier in and on water than on land.

SF MujeresJHJC Summer

There’s Summer–just to the right of the top of Jonny’s hat.

The cooling off only lasts as long as you are in the water. I was dripping sweat again before we weighed anchor. At least sailing we get a nice breeze. Our trip was relatively painless. We did have a bit of a rough time going through Canal Salsipuedes (which translates to Leave if You Can Channel) – the tides and currents through this somewhat narrow passage can get really crazy in opposition to each other, making big standing waves and weird whirlpools, and then, the wind can just die on you. We made it out OK and avoided hitting the imaginary island that our iPad nav software created (very strange – it showed us crossing over a smooth, egg shaped island – all other islands were mostly in the right place and had detailed coastlines). Not sure what that was all about, but it may have caused a moment of panic in the captain, who assumed that now we could never again trust our one and only accurate navigation program.

We anchored at Isla Partida, which was mostly where it was supposed to be on our chart. A rugged, beach-less black and white sort of island with a nice crescent shaped bay. Dan on Dazzler was the only boat there and we tucked in nearer to the shore. Dan brought us a yellowtail he had just caught as a ‘welcome to the anchorage’ present. What a nice guy! He and Jonny had a lot of fishing to discuss, for sure.   We were finishing up a mahi mahi, so I saved the yellowtail to make sushi for lunch the next day.

Partida first sushi

Partida crabs Partida finger partida caves

We had a chubasco predicted for our first night there. It didn’t quite get to chubasco proportions (winds were only in the mid to high 20’s – people call them Chewbacas ), but we had a seriously windy and rainy and rocky night. I stood out in the rain for a bit and it was nice to get chilly. But I was SO tired that I missed most of the lightning show. I was barely functional for whatever it was we had to do at 3:00am.   The next day we tried to explore in the dinghy, there was a small sort of beach on the back side of the island, but not really a place you’d want to spend a lot of time. Jonny fished a bit and we were just too sleep-deprived to do much else.

We had an unpredicted chubasco/chewbaca the 2nd night, and got even less sleep. We had to start the motor to relieve the strain on our anchor, as we were being blown right back towards the rocks. Our anchor held like a champ, as it always has so far – but better safe than sorry! The wind and swell were whipping and at one point, during a flash of lightning, I noticed that poor Peugeot was upside down! She had flipped over and I was sure we’d lost the paddles and maybe even had the seat ripped out. After a bit more jostling, she flipped back upright again. After looking hard and waiting for flashes of lightning, I ascertained we did in fact still have both paddles! Miraculous! In the morning we discovered we also still had the t-shirt we keep over the fuel tank (which was strapped in and not lost either) and a nice strap of webbing we use to hang fish on. Amazing! The only loss was a nice stainless knife, and that was a bummer, but we still feel we got away pretty lucky on that whole deal. When you lose or break something here, if you can’t find or fix it, it’s just gone, you live without. Interesting thing to get used to. Instant gratification is such a distant, hazy memory.

When I got up at 2:00 am to batten down the hatches and whatnot, I thought I saw something fly into the cabin. I assumed it was one of the gigantic moths we often see (we call them Mothra) and I tried not to make a big deal of it because I get a lot of grief for being too girly about bugs and such. But when things calmed down a bit and Jonny suggested I could go back to bed if I wanted I said “No! Mothra is down there!”. I had a good look with the lights and didn’t see mothra, so I tried to go to sleep on the pitching and rolling bed. Not long after Jonny came down he yelled and turned on the lights. He thought Mothra was flitting around his head. Turns out we had an adorable black bird in our bed! Poor thing just sat there blinking on the sheets. Jonny carefully grabbed it and set it out in the cockpit. It had probably come in to avoid the storm (which was kind of ironic as we later discovered it was a “storm petrel”), and we didn’t want to throw it back out there, but I didn’t want it in our bed, either. So it had a nice cozy towel to sit on under the dodger. By morning it had flown the coop.PartidaBedBird

Two sleep deprived nights really diminishes your desire to do much. Luckily, after visiting Dan’s boat, Jonny had inspiration for how to hang my beloved Jungle Hammock in the cockpit. It’s hard to believe it’s taken this long to figure out how to use my hammock, given how much I adore that thing, but better late than never. It’s so comfortable! The day was cloudy and cool all day – it was a very nice change of pace. After a third sleepless night – due to a ‘wind event’ we decided to give up on Isla Partida for the time being.

Hammockpartida

We tried out a couple anchorages just south of Bahia de los Angeles and ended up spending five days in Quemado, which had a very long, beautiful white sand beach and red hills and mountains surrounding it. Coyotes would often come down and visit the beach and start howling and barking to each other. We were running quite low on fresh food and we knew Bay of LA was just around the corner, but somehow we were in no rush to get there. Bit by bit we kept hearing this and that about what you can get in BLA and it started to gain legendary proportions in my mind. I tried not to get my hopes up too much.

Somewhere in there we began to notice our refrigerator was running pretty much non-stop. In a home, this can be a minor annoyance, but on a boat, this was a critical situation – not just because something was clearly wrong with our fridge and we could lose all our frozen and long term supplies in there, but also because it was sucking our battery bank dry. We can only make so many amps with our solar panels running at full bore, and with the fridge running nonstop we could not keep up with the amps being consumed. We had to turn it off several times a day, which was not boding well for the goods inside. It seemed to get worse and worse. I used our SSB radio Ham email to contact the company we bought the compressor and cold plate from (it’s a Technautics Cool Blue – only installed 14 months ago and one of the most efficient (and expensive) systems out there. We had been pretty much enamored of the system to date. We got immediate response and helpful information. The system was dangerously low in refrigerant, which could only happen if it leaked out somewhere. We examined the system and discovered that a leak appeared to be happening in the connections near the compressor (which is housed under the aft portion of the boat and accessed through a panel at the end of our quarter berth). The leak was not very obvious and we were thinking maybe it had been leaking slowly ever since we installed it? Our new task was to go to BLA and try to find refrigerant and hoses to get it into our system. A few people told us we could probably find it in town. We were holding our breath. We figured we should get in there right away and try to fix this situation. But it was Friday and we realized the weekend might not be the best time to try to find things in town. And besides, Lunasea and Manta showed up at the anchorage and we were looking forward to hanging out with them. We were limping along, turning the fridge on and off and things seemed to be holding their own in there.

In parallel to the fridge issue, I also was suffering from thrush – which is basically a yeast infection in the mouth. Thanks to the antibiotics I took for my ear infection, I was now in excruciating pain inside my entire mouth. I had a bad taste in my mouth for days and white coating on my tongue, but I had assumed maybe I was just detoxing from the antibiotics. It soon became very apparent it was thrush. Thanks to information my Mom sent me via the ham radio email, I was able to identify for sure what was going on and also start taking the pills I had gotten ‘just in case’ I got a yeast infection (I had forgotten all about thrush, which I’ve only had once before). I really only had 2 or 3 days where it was hard to eat and I was in constant pain. Luckily the pills started to do their job and I did not end up with the side effect of liver failure. I was careful not to drink alcohol for the 10 day duration of the pills. I don’t drink much as it is, and often go far longer than 10 days without a drink, but when you CAN’T have a drink, it’s amazing just how badly you want one!

Jonny and Alex got to go fishing together and Naomi and I got to catch up on a lot of backlogged girl talk. We also got to share a great lunch of smoked sierra sandwiches on Naomi’s homemade bread (which I would have enjoyed far more if my mouth had been healed up). She ended up giving me some of her sourdough starter and instructions for making bread. Life will never be the same now – this is some seriously good bread and I have lots of plans to trick it out with all kinds of fancy ingredients (cinnamon raisin? Molasses/walnut? Garlic/onion? Pizza dough?). If I can just avoid killing the sourdough starter… (first day I accidentally spilled Jamaica water into it, but it appears to have survived). We finally got to meet Terry and Dawn on Manta – a huge tri-maran that’s been roaming the sea for many years. They take folks out for trips and are big into Scuba diving. They have lots of great stories (including how they just had a 17 year old kid on board who’d never been in a world without wifi, he was baffled and simply could not get his head around why his phone wouldn’t work).

We enjoyed our weekend, with the dark cloud of “what if we have no fridge for the rest of the summer??” looming over us. Come Monday morning we were ready to get on task and head in to civilization. Stay tuned to hear the tales!

 

 

 

Isla Coronados to Santa Rosalia

The wind was right so we blew on northward again. We radioed our friends to say goodbye and headed to San Juanico, a supposedly lovely and popular anchorage for cruisers. For some reason I didn’t have high hopes – and thought maybe we’d stay a night or 2 there before moving on. I was really looking forward to Bahia Concepcion – where we used to camp and loved very much.

ASIDE – I thought I had learned a long time ago not to have expectations. You are never disappointed when you have no expectations about something – be it a day, a place, a person, etc. But between San Juanico and Bahia Concepcion I re-learned this lesson. And I also realized that we really shouldn’t beat ourselves up when re-learning something we thought we already had down. Life actually requires a certain number of Continuing Education Credits in order to maintain Human Being status. So, next time you find yourself re-learning a lesson you thought you had down years ago, just chalk it up to earning your CEC units and continue on with being human.

OK that wasn’t a spoiler, was it?!

The sail, while not all that far (20 ish miles?) had a little bit of everything. We started out with the wind failing us and ended up double reefed, holding on for dear life, hoping to get in before the thunderstorm. We also caught a fish at the most inopportune moment, the boat was pitching wildly and Jonny accidently cut the fish wrong and blood sprayed everywhere. Summer looked like a crime scene, which I suppose it WAS…

Fish blood summer

San Juanico was absolutely amazing. It looked sort of beautiful from our anchor spot, some pretty white sand beaches, rock formations that looked interesting and it was a very large bay with many areas to explore. We took the dinghy out to explore the nearest point and as we got closer to it all, I was just blown away at how incredible it all was! The colors and formations of the rocks were far different from what we’d seen so far. We explored caves, rock spires and finally beached the dinghy and checked out the multicolored rocks on shore. It was far too hot to spend any time looking at rocks on shore – we probably could’ve cooked lunch on them though. So we jumped in with our snorkels and I spent a ridiculous amount of time in the shallows examining rocks and shells. So many agates and things looking like the insides of geodes, multi-layered, multi-colored… I ended up with several handfuls of special treasures that needed examining out of the water. Jonny about had a heart attack when he saw my collection. I assured him I would not take it back to the boat. Well, not ALL of it.

San Juanico Rocks  SJ Cave Jenn SJ split rocks SJ rock spires  SJ Hang rocks

SJRocks collected

After a rollier night than we’d hoped for, the next day we tried to move to the other side of the bay but didn’t find anything to our liking – 2 other boats were in good spots over there. We got another spot near a beach and some interesting caves. We spent an afternoon snorkeling from one beach to another. It was far too hot to be out of the water and being in the water, in the shade of the rocks and caves was the best place we could be. We waited till almost sundown to go back to the boat. The afternoons are the worst because the sun often comes in the back of the boat and no matter what we do, putting up shades and sarongs, it always seems to find your eyes through some hole somewhere. We call it “the blinding hours”.   That night, after being in the water so much, I had a bit of water in my ear I just couldn’t seem to shake out.

Rancha Santa Ana

Someone’s little slice of heaven at San Juancio

SJ Rancha

Drift guy

I often get the urge to build little people out of whatever is handy…

That night was horribly rolly, and some crazy wind event got us up in the middle of the night. I was so delirious that I don’t even actually remember what I had to get up to do out there – maybe take a shade down. The wind switched directions and the anchorage was not at all protected anymore. We got very little sleep and the next morning we couldn’t get out of there fast enough – with the boat pitching and rolling the entire time. Just around to the north there is an anchorage called Ramada, which offered better protection for the winds and predicted winds. We got in there pretty quickly and it was a lovely, tiny little spot that could just barely hold 2 boats, and it was much less rolly. A little while later the other 2 boats from San Juanico came in to the Ramada as well. Linger Longer and Rain Dancer were our new neighbors. Rain Dancer anchored a bit too close for our comfort, but we didn’t have time to say anything because the skies got black and a lightning show ensued. Soon after the intro, a huge rainstorm came on. The wind was not at all coming from the direction predicted so we were blowing back on a lee shore and almost hitting Rain Dancer. We hollered to them to put out some more scope and we started our motor to keep ourselves in place.   It was wonderfully cool and I managed to get myself and my hair soaked in fresh water.   We even half heartedly put out a bucket to collect water running off our shade. The lightning show was spectacular. When the winds stopped howling so much and it was just raining, we celebrated being chilly by having some soup. The water that had gotten stuck in my ear still hadn’t come out and it was starting to feel a little funny in there…

 

Ramada Sunset

That afternoon when it stopped raining, we met Kris on Linger Longer. The next morning she invited us to an afternoon “noodle party”, which sounded like a lot of cooking in the hottest part of the day and I wasn’t too keen. But turns out a noodle party is where you get your pool noodles and other floaties and just all hang out in the water together, keeping cool, maybe having a drink or two set on a paddle board. How have we not thought of this??

We checked out the beach and met Rainie, Don and their three dogs from Rain Dancer and then also Kirk on Linger Longer. Kris and Kirk were off to try to find the trail from the beach back across to San Juanico where there is a “Cruiser’s Shrine” to visit. We decided we should make the trek too before it got too hot. We went back to the boat to get shoes, hats and water. By the time we got back to shore, Kris and Kirk were already back; the path they took wasn’t the right one and ended at someone’s house. Unfortunate for them, but helpful to us – we knew to try to the other path.   It was a hot but pretty hike through the desert landscape. Not long before we came to the other side and headed left along a rocky shoreline with gorgeous views of the turquoise waters and rock formations on the side of San Juanico bay we had not explored. I was skeptical about this shrine – it looked like a tree surrounded by trash from the distance and I wasn’t sure it was going to be worth the trek down the rocky beach. But we finally made it and it’s a pretty good sized tree completely covered and surrounded by “offerings” from all the cruisers that have visited over the years. People made all kinds of creative signs and memorabilia with their boat names and years they visited- it was quite extensive and hard to photograph. The oldest we saw was a rock from 1989 with Wind Walker on it – which made us think of our friend Van and his beautiful Islander 28 Wind Walker that we did some of our first sailing on (we know it wasn’t the same one though!). We had fun looking through everything and started to get inspired about what we were going to contribute.  We figured this is our summer project – to create something that will stand the weather and test of time at the cruiser’s shrine. We will definitely be stopping in San Juanico on the way back south at the end of the year.

SJ North side SJ Shrine SJ Shrine Jy

We had a lovely noodle party and got to know Kris and Kirk better. I kept my head out of the water to keep my ear issue from getting worse. It was nice to float around in my hat and sunglasses and stay cool!

The next morning we headed out just after light to Santo Domingo bay at the top of Bahia Concepcion – about a 45 mile sail – a bigger day than we’ve had in some time. Rain Dancer and then Linger Longer also headed out, quite a ways behind us.   Between us catching fish (and losing 3 of the 4…) and being the little slow guys, both of them passed us before too long. But we sailed once the wind came up and it was a lovely and semi-fast day. I got some carrot cake muffins made before it got too crazy rolly in the afternoon.

Carrot Muffins

There were 12…just not all in the same container

When we finally sailed around the corner to the stopover anchorage of Santo Domingo (we planned to go farther down into the bay), Linger Longer and Rain Dancer were already there. But apparently we were only about an hour behind (and they both motored the whole way). It was a pretty little spot with a big beach and nothing much around save for a fish camp on the point. Water was clear and relatively refresing. We had a beautiful sunset and enjoyed our mahi mahi for dinner. We had a nice chat with Kris and Kirk the next morning and Rainie and Don on the beach before we hiked out to check out the rocks at the end of the beach. We planned to leave that afternoon to go down to Coyote Bay or El Burro Cove – both places we always drove by and loved to see on our camping trips. By the time we got back to the boat, it was later than expected and the wind wasn’t right anyway for sailing south. There was going to be north wind the next day, which was perfect, so we decided to spend one more night there. My ear was clearly not getting better – up and down with a lot of discomfort. I was keeping it out of the water and half heartedly attempting some remedies (not entirely sure what the cause was, I wasn’t sure what to do – viral or bacterial?).

Santo Domingo boats

Summer is, of course, way far out to the left while Rain Dancer and Linger Longer are together closer to shore.

The next day Linger Longer and Rain Dancer both headed out to the north. Kirk is a fishing enthusiast like Jonny – but he hadn’t had a lot of luck lately. Jonny gave him one of our lucky lures just as they were leaving. It wasn’t long before Kirk called us on the radio to say they were having fish for the next two nights! Those dorado sure like the pink lures.

I was really excited about seeing some of our old haunts as we made our way into the bay. We wove between little islands and checked out El Burro Cove. Every morning we listen to a net on the SSB Radio – cruisers check in and share information and then at 7:45 Geary the weather guy gives us all a report for conditions all around Baja and mainland Mexico – he does this out of the kindness of his heart, and he’s very reliable. It’s extremely helpful and we never miss a report. We know that Geary lives in El Burro Cove, so we thought we’d try to find him and let him know how much we appreciate his weather reports. We did a ‘drive by’ of El Burro and the beach is lined with palapa beach homes – we guessed that the one with the most antennas on it had to be Geary’s. We continued on to Coyote Bay, just around the corner, as it seemed to have more protection for the winds we were getting.

El Burro Geary House

My ear was definitely a problem and I was pretty uncomfortable – continuing to keep my head out of the water until it was better. In the heat, this was a miserable prospect. We decided to go ashore – there was supposed to be a small market and we wanted to scope out the prospects for getting water and we had some really stinky trash we wanted to offload.   The beach was wall-to-wall beach houses and compounds. We landed the dinghy under a shady palm tree and tried to walk out to the road. We were locked in by a very secure gate. We went back to the beach and walked down a ways and found another path that looked like it went out between houses. It led to another locked gate. By this time we were REALLY hot and more than a little annoyed. We ended up jumping over a wood slat and metal fence across from the mini market. I was able to dump the trash in a bin and went in to see what goodies we could glean from the market. We were nearly completely out of fresh stuff. Avocados? Tomatoes? Cucumbers? Perhaps a freezer case with ice creams? I had high hopes. Jonny was only hoping to find a beer. One of us got what we were looking for and it wasn’t me. Now I was really sweaty, sticky and dejected. And I had to climb up a metal wire fence and try to get to the other side. A few cuts and bruises, but I made it OK and we trudged on back to the dinghy. Jonny jumped overboard for a swim and got out immediately. Not only was the water not very clear or pretty, but it was 93 degrees – not very refreshing. Crystal clear island water has really spoiled us! I of course didn’t even bother going in, I was just feeling hot and miserable and my ear was annoying and worrying me. I just kept spritzing off with our fresh water sprayer and hoping for a breeze. It was a most uncomfortable night.

El Burro Jonny

In the morning we made our pilgrimage by dinghy over to El Burro to find Geary. I was not at my best – ear was really bugging me now. We interrupted Geary’s siesta, but he kindly got out of his hammock and had a nice chat with us. I wish I’d been feeling better, I would have had a lot more questions for him! He’s been living on this beach for over 20 years and has a wonderful place with all kinds of fun and entertaining décor. We left him with a couple of carrot cake muffins (which Jonny so generously sacrificed – they’re his favorite) and headed out to find the little restaurant there. El Burro Distances

Geary El Burro

Geary the faithful weatherman: http://sonrisanet.org/

We spotted all these crazy little crabs on the way – tiny little guys with one giant claw – sometimes on the right, sometimes on the left (why is that?).Big Claw crab It was hotter and more humid than we’ve seen. How is it no one ever told us how humid it is down here? We knew it was hot, yes, but the humidity was never mentioned. There really is something to be said for “but it’s a DRY heat”. I totally get it now. It was 102 in the shade at JC’s Restaurant, and we were the only ones there.El Burro Temp It was a cute little place and the folks there were very friendly and wanted to serve us. They maybe just didn’t think anyone was going to show up that day, as it took over 45 minutes to get a couple tacos. I couldn’t get a fresh orange juice, but I got the green light on the limonada. I think they had to run over to the other store for ice as it took quite some time for that to arrive. But it was the real deal and it was huge and delicious. The tacos were also extremely good, and I’d almost say worth the wait. As soon as the food came, we were inundated with black flies. They swarmed our food and the condiment platter. I had to eat with one had shooing away flies. It was so bad I just started to laugh and thought maybe we were on one of those hidden camera shows: “This couple came in for a quick taco lunch, but we cranked the heat up to 102 and made the humidity off the charts, then we made them wait for nearly an hour, and then, when their food finally came, we released 800 starving black flies right over their table. Let’s watch to see how they react!” We were far too hungry, hot and sticky to react in any way but to wolf down our tacos, wave away the flies and get on out of there (which is probably why they won’t be airing our episode). It was nice to get a meal out for a change, though! Cooking in this heat is not a pleasant task. We had another hot and sticky night – trying to cool off by spraying with water and standing naked in the breeze. Clothing optional? No, clothing is not an option in this heat. And no, it’s not nearly as sexy as you might think; touching is not an option either. I can’t even stand it when the back of my calf touches the back of my thigh. I’ve been experimenting with ‘foot hammocks’ so I can lay around with as little of me as possible touching anything.

Foot Hammocks

We nixed all our plans intentions to see any more of Bahia Concepcion – it could wait till the cooler winter months when we head back by. The next morning we got out of there pretty quickly and headed up to Punta Chivato, which we hoped would be a bit cooler. As we were nearing the end of the bay, there were lots of dolphins playing around.  Some of them rode Summer’s bow for a while.

Otherwise, it was a sweatshop of a sail for me – I spent most of the time down below trying to sew some leather onto our giant shade structure as it had ripped where it goes around the backstay.  I couldn’t sew it while at anchor because we cannot survive without it up!!

Sewing Underway

We camped once on Punta Chivato for New Year’s Eve.   It was a terrible night for a variety of reasons (it was quite cold and windy in the winter time to boot). But I hoped this time would be much different. And it was. Except it was far worse.  I awoke shortly after midnight in excruciating pain – my ear was howling. And humidity seemed to be around 90%. Our bed was damp, the floors and decks and cockpit were all just soaked with humidity. At least there was a breeze outside, so I crawled into the cockpit and tried to sleep on my good ear. Not long afterwards, Jonny woke up and took up the other side of the cockpit. We must have both fallen asleep, because at 4:45 am we both sat bolt upright as we felt the boat spinning around. Inside of a minute the wind switched direction 180 degrees. This meant the boat also changed direction 180 degrees. This was not a usual motion and that didn’t escape either one of us however soundly we were asleep. With the switch we ended up being in extremely rolly conditions and we didn’t really get any more sleep. In the morning we got out as quickly as possible, with the boat pitching and rolling the whole time. We even waited to take the sail cover off until we were underway, figuring it couldn’t be much worse to do it when we were moving, maybe it would calm down? Nope. It was worse. But we survived and had a decent sail. At least when you’re sailing you’re always feeling some sort of breeze!

Next stop Isla San Marcos – an island that has a small village and a gypsum mine. We went to the uninhabited north end of the island to Sweet Pea Cove. There was a small fishing camp on the beach, interesting looking caves and we anchored in very pretty waters. The water was a bit more refreshing – down to 90 degrees. I did some floating and we had a more pleasant and cooler afternoon and evening. We watched two fishermen land on the beach in a panga. One of them jumped off the boat empty handed and ran into a cave on the beach. Just moments before this, Jonny noticed that cave and through binoculars spotted a chair inside of it. The second fisherman ran into the cave and they tried to put a big tarp up over the opening. The second guy ran out and sprinted across the beach and got something (a stick?) and back to the cave where the two men secured themselves inside with the tarp blocking them in. After about 15 minutes they came out, put the tarp away and zoomed off in the panga. You can just imagine the speculation we had going on as to what happened in there. Any guesses are welcome!

SweetPea Pierre float

Bad Hair Day

See what I mean about my hair???

SantoDomSunset Jy

Sunset went on forever at Sweet Pea

We were only about 10 miles from the town of Santa Rosalia – where we’d planned to stop for provisions before making a big leap to the north. I was really looking forward to exploring the beaches and caves on Isla San Marcos and we planned to do that the next morning before heading to Santa Rosalia. And we were both really interested to go have a look inside that one cave and see if we could find clues of what our mysterious fishermen were doing in there. My ear was hurting pretty badly and I was hoping it would be a little better in the morning. Unfortunately it was not and I had another sleepless night in excruciating pain. Ibuprofen helped a bit, but it was helping less and less. In the morning the entire right side of my face was in agony, it hurt to chew and it hurt to put sunglasses on. I realized I would not enjoy exploring the caves even if I could tough it out. I said I wanted to go straight to Santa Rosalia and find a doctor. Ten days of this was about my limit, I guess.

It was very rolly and there wasn’t enough wind to sail. We motored along with a favorable current and made it into the harbor around 11:00 am. We got anchored and immediately went ashore to find a clinic I’d looked up online. We stopped in the Fonatur office and they told us we were not allowed to use their dock for our dinghy if we were not staying there. That was very sad, as there wasn’t really any place else safe and secure (and free of loads of disgusting trash) to land. We did get a map and they suggested a doctor to visit. No name or address, but they put a dot on the map. We headed out to try and find that (and yes, we just left our dinghy where it was…were they going to give us a parking ticket? We weren’t sure but we didn’t care too much at that point). We ran into Rainie and Don and mentioned where we were going. They said they knew a Dr. Pepys who spoke English and was absolutely wonderful. They attempted to give us directions and finally pointed to a white cross on the hill and said it was up there, just across from that.

Santa Rosalia Ancorage

View from the anchorage

Santa Rosalia is unlike any other place in Baja. It’s an old mining town and the copper mine was run by a French company for quite some time. The town was built up with a lot wooden buildings (impractical for Baja) and Mr. Eiffel, of tower fame, designed the church here.   There’s a bakery that’s been operating in the same location for 100 years. There aren’t a lot of gringos here and it isn’t very touristy. We’ve always stopped here on the way home after our driving/camping trips and it’s always had a soft spot in my heart. It is built on some hilly terrain and there are a lot of steep stair cases, roads and walking bridges to and from the high sides. A main town area is in the flatter arroyo in the middle. We hiked up a steep staircase to a lookout – and could see Summer waiting patiently for us in the anchorage. We wandered through some streets at the top, trying to find the right place. We asked several people and got re-directed a few times.

Santa Rosalia Summer view

That’s Summer – anchored inside the breakwater – top middle of photo

 

We finally ended up at a Doctor’s office, in line with the big white cross a few streets down. It was not Dr. Pepy’s office, it was Dr. Lopez’s office. Doctor Lopez greeted us and said he could give me a consultation right away. He did not speak a word of English. Between Jonny and I we were able to communicate and understand just fine. Jonny studied Spanish in school and can often say the more complicated things properly, whereas I just have been learning through my travels in Spanish speaking countries – I sometimes know more obscure vocabulary words and can often understand what is being said to us a bit better than Jonny, so between the two of us we do OK.

Dr. Lopez had a scope with a bright light and he put it inside my ear – and it was projected on a big screen. What I saw will live in my nightmares for days to come. “MMMMM…Muy infeccion” said Dr. Lopez.   He came up with a list of things he wanted to give me – an antibiotic, an anti-inflammatory and ear drops. He explained how many and for how long I should take them. I can’t remember the last time I ingested antibiotics and I sure didn’t want to, but without access to my alternatives, and knowing how bad these ear infections can go, I decided to go ahead with this course of treatment. I was very worried about the very likely possibility of a yeast infection caused by the antibiotics and wanted him to add something for that to my prescriptions. I had a hard time trying to explain that to the doctor. Jonny jumped in with his fancy Spanish class education and pointed to his crotch with both hands and said “INFECCION indentro!” and the doctor looked horrified for a second and then said “ahhh! La vagine?” to which Jonny enthusiastically said “SI! SI! SI!” I wish I had that on video.

On the other side of the waiting room was a farmacia – how convenient! The doctor is apparently also a pharmacist and he pulled down all the drugs for me. I vaguely wondered if there was some sort of conflict of interest there. He said he wanted me to come back in four days so he could check on me and we made an appointment. The entire visit including all the drugs came to about $62 and took less than a half hour, no paperwork, no health history. I took the pills and ear drops right in the (comfortable, air conditioned) office and the drops, containing lidocaine, gave me some instant relief. A day later it was quite a bit better (although my hearing is questionable).

We scoped out a few grocery spots in town and splurged on a nice, very late lunch, in a nice, very air-conditioned restaurant. We recalled eating at the same restaurant on one of our driving trips heading north after New Year’s. We remembered being freezing cold and ducking into this restaurant and enjoying their heat. It was quite the opposite this time. When we left the restaurant our sunglasses were so cold they fogged up.

Santa Rosalia square

Santa R Ghandi library

The Ghandi Library

On our way back, we stopped to visit with Linger Longer, as they were staying in the Fonatur marina there. They had just gotten their share of a collective beer run delivery and had several cases piled in their cockpit. They kindly offered us cold ones, and who are we to refuse such kindness? We had a nice time chatting with them – they are really enjoyable folks to hang out with. We finally realized we should probably get our yogurt and other groceries back to the fridge and we headed back to Summer.

After the blinding hour and the sun going down, we planned to go ashore and try to use the showers and then find this ice cream place everyone is raving about. Well, we got our showers, blissful freshwater pouring from above washing away nearly 6 weeks of “the new clean”. Unfortunately we got busted for using the Fonatur dock, by the night guard. Don’t they have any idea how much we’ve spent at other Fonaturs? Anyway we had to hustle back to the boat, no ice cream. Very sad.

It was a relatively cool night. And by that I mean it was down to about 93 all night and it felt quite pleasant, and being clean on top of that? Well, it doesn’t get much better. Slept very well, with no ear agony and no rolliness in the harbor. The pleasant feeling lasted until almost 9:00am, when the sticky encasement of hot goo settled in for the day. It’s really just plain gross.

Jonny had to go up the mast to figure out why our super expensive, power-sipping LED “lifetime” anchor light stopped working after only 10 months. We don’t have an answer still, but we did replace it with our old bulb which uses a lot of energy but works just fine. My job was to inventory all our food supplies so we could get at least 3 months worth of provisions stocked up before leaving Santa Rosalia.

For a few weeks now, I’ve been finding these little black bugs everywhere. Slow moving, hard, tiny beetle-like things. I’ve had the vague thought in the back of my head that they must be coming from SOMEWHERE and aren’t just dropping into the boat at our various anchorages. I was afraid of finding their headquarters at some point and mostly just tried not think about it too much. Well, in doing inventory, I found headquarters. They actually operated out of multiple locations, namely our two stashes of pastas. I believe they were grain weevils that were present inside some of the pastas boxes or bags when we bought them and spread to all the rest. All our bags of pasta were just crawling with these guys. I had to throw away all of it (except for the gluten free, which they apparently don’t like). It doesn’t appear they got any sugar or flour, still on alert for them though. I had to remove everything from our lowest, largest storage locker, which involved laying on the floor and using a flashlight. I thoroughly cleaned both food lockers where they were found and all the surrounding areas. Sad to lose all that pasta and now I’m afraid to buy more! Fingers crossed I got them all.

By late morning we were ready to try our luck landing the dinghy at the nearby panga beach and walk over to the Ley supermarket that we could see just up the highway. The beach was covered with very black, shiny sand, probably some sort of residual from the mining history of this place. The beach and water leading up to it was fairly disgusting – covered in trash and whatnot. SR Gross dinghyshoreWith the whole ear infection thing, I was feeling less than impervious to potential who-knows-what you could get by stepping in that water…Jonny took one for the team and jumped out of the dinghy and pulled it up on shore so I could step out onto dry(ish) beach. We secured Peugeot and hiked up the sketchy staircase to the street. There were trash bins right there so that was nice to ditch a few bags of trash we’d brought. It was a very short walk to Ley, but in the heat it was almost unbearable. We passed by a park built in the ruins of an old mining site. I wandered in to take pictures but Jonny hurried me along, anxious to get into the air-conditioned Ley. We were both dripping sweat after only a block of walking. Jonny’s shirt was so soaked when we got into the blissfully icy Ley, people were pointing and laughing at him.   We probably spent about three hours scoping out what was available, getting some things, taking a break to eat a rotisserie chicken in the small deli area and then continuing our shopping expedition. I was not looking forward to the hot, heavily laden trek back, but Jonny had not a single doubt that we needed to take a taxi. Small miracles do happen! We had about half of the provisions we needed, so it was far too much to carry, anyway.

SR Mine machines

Some of the mining history that dominates Santa Rosalia – and is now a park

Jonny soaked   SR Train  SR Mine park

We got back to the panga area and were grateful to see that Peugeot hadn’t exploded (we let air out of it before we left her baking on that hot black sand, and she wasn’t the least bit soft when we got back). I again got in the dinghy without touching the water. We noticed the panga fishermen wearing high rubber boots to get into their boats. Watching Jonny walk in that water almost made me nauseous. He washed his feet off as soon as we got back to Summer.

SR Temps

We had a hotter, less comfortable night. No showers, but we did rinse off with as much water as we wanted, knowing that the next day we were headed for water galore at the marina. Water, laundry, propane and more provisions were on our task list.

We are VERY VERY VERY grateful to our dear friend Amy, who sent us a generous donation via the blog. We decided to splurge on 2 nights at the marina…and Jonny is finally getting a new pair of gloves for heaving anchor!

Jonny gloves AMY THANK YOU

The Fonatur is pretty relaxed (except, apparently when you use their dock and you aren’t staying. Most places allow you to do so for a fee or free, which we would have been happy to pay, but they just flat out said no). We picked out a slip and Kris and Kirk caught our lines as we came in. We realized our dock finger was disgusting, covered in guano and other unrecognizably gross stuff. We got a bunch of fenders and rigged some longer lines and pulled Summer over to the next slip over, which was a bit cleaner. There is no water metering, so we went hog wild! Gave Summer a quick rinse down, put up our sun shades and proceeded to do a huge amount of laundry in a Rubbermaid bin. It took most of the day, but being in our shaded cockpit, playing with cool-ish fresh water, wasn’t the worst way to spend a day.   When someone finally came in to the office, I checked in for 2 nights and got some laundry tokens –as we realized there was no way we could fit all our laundry on lines on the boat. We got sheets done first and they actually dried before we got other things done, so we were able to dry a lot on the lines, and only brought 1 load to dry in the dryer.

11825833_1107265599288078_2219987610462770963_n

The bathrooms at this Fonatur have no ventilation and are kind of gross…but cold hose water on the dock at sunset – best shower ever!

Summer laundry day

Isabel in the office offered that I could come and sit in the waiting room to use wifi or read books anytime I wanted. Yes, the office is air-conditioned and yes I am blogging in relative comfort.

You’ll have to wait till my next wifi interlude to see how the rest of Santa Rosalia went for us. Until then…stay cool.

Los Candeleros to Isla Coronados

 

We had only planned to stay a couple nights in Candeleros. So it shouldn’t come as any surprise that we stayed for an entire week.   We recently heard a cruiser on the VHF radio say “I plan to…wait, no, I’m trying never to use the word “plan” again….my INTENTION is to…”. I like that and will try to use “intention” instead of “plan” from now on.   Forget about that whole “Failing to plan is planning to fail” saying. That only works for goal oriented people who drink a lot of coffee and have bosses. [Luckily you can always find a saying or a meme to fit whatever it is you want to believe… (for example: “out of sight, out of mind vs. absence makes the heart grow fonder. Choose your own adventure)].

Resort View

Right. Candeleros or Villa Del Palmar or whatever that monstrosity of a resort was called. We were told that the resort gladly allowed cruisers to take their free shuttle into Loreto. What nice folks! We put off doing it for a few days – content to mooch their wifi and visit with our friends. We all spent quite a bit of time holed up in our boats, voraciously consuming wifi. Meagan and Megan each said things I was thinking though – “I hate trying to post blog entries when there’s internet. I keep getting distracted with “Oh I should look this or that up” and it takes FOREVER. When there’s no wifi I can just focus on WRITING.” and “I’m kind of looking forward to getting out of here and not having internet again, it’s so all consuming!”. Yes, it’s a blessing and a curse.

4 Boat Hold

Johah & Orion, Meagan & Resolute, Jonny & Summer, Sylvia, Dillon and Jaden & Sang Vind

We finally did take the shuttle to Loreto when our grocery situation got a little more dire. We went with Megan and Jonah and we were the only ones in the shuttle.   The driver was great, stopping to show us views and talking about the area. When he dropped us off, he said we could come back on the 3pm or 5pm shuttle, it was our choice and we could just let them know. What a great service! We meandered through town, checking out all the grocery places, deciding we would have lunch and then go back to get our groceries at the end. We scoped out the waterfront area to see if there was a dinghy landing and what anchoring looked like for future supply runs. Loreto is not considered a safe anchorage, but you can stop for a few hours to run ashore for shopping. There is a panga harbor and a little stony area you could leave a dinghy.

We had a great lunch at a restaurant I remembered from one of our previous stopovers when we used to drive through Baja. It was around 2pm and we realized we’d never get our groceries and make the 3pm shuttle. Jonah called and said we wanted to take the 5pm and it all seemed just fine. We headed out and loaded up on all the essentials we could carry.   There was a great little shop that sold all kind of bulk, organic goods that the owner drove down from California on a regular basis when he went back and forth to visit family.   It put me a little over budget for that shopping run, but I got an awful lot of good stuff for making granola bars!

MeganChurch Loreto

Megan and the Loreto Church (built 1697)

Loreto Hedges

Loretotown

We got to the sister hotel in time to have a rest before the shuttle came. We sat and chatted happily, until we realized how much time had passed. There was no shuttle. Megan went to the front desk and came back some time later and said they weren’t coming for us. Jonah took a crack at calling them, too, but still, no dice. Apparently they decided that they didn’t want to come back for us since there were no other paying guests signed up for the service.   That, and we may have called a little too late, because apparently someone was there for us at 3pm and left empty. They had made it sound like no big deal which shuttle we took, but apparently it was a big deal. We weighed our options – should we try to get out to the main road and hitchhike back the 40 minute drive? We were all really overloaded with bags and backpacks and it was hot and we were pretty tired already. If we didn’t get a ride, I didn’t think my feet would hold out for any amount of extensive walking while carrying a heavy pack and bags. A taxi was supposed to cost 650 pesos (over $50) which none of us had budgeted for (and we were all out of cash). In the end, the hotel clerk negotiated a taxi for 500 pesos and we bit the bullet (and went to an ATM) and got back. At the resort, we were told that the resort policy on transporting non-paying guests had changed between the time we left and the time we came back. Lovely.

Loreto Bus Waiting

It was good to be home and loaded up with food again, at any rate. We started to get back into our groove and focusing on where we were intending to go next. We enjoyed fish and potlucks and hikes with our friends. We enjoyed going ashore after dark to take showers with soap and shampoo at the open air showers on the beach made for resort guests to rinse off. We were always a little worried about getting caught and “in trouble”, but it sure was nice to have fresh water just pouring down on us and using plenty of soap and all. We even rinsed some clothes. Simply washing the salt out of things is what now passes for “clean”.

I did so some boat laundry with soap and about 7 gallons of water. The water never rinsed totally clear, and I’m not entirely sure I got all the soap out, but again, it’s “The New Clean”. It sure smelled good!

Chores can make you awful sweaty down here. In fact, just standing still can make you awful sweaty. I spent some time floating with Pierre in the shade to cool off.

Floatingwith Pierre Cand

One morning I decided to make the rounds rowing the dinghy. I stopped at Sang Vind to deliver some dorado (mahi mahi) Jonny had promised and next on to Resolute with a little more fish. There wasn’t enough for Orion as well, but we figured they had some of the marlin we’d brought and besides, Jonah is such a great fisherman (yeah, it felt a little weird & awkward…) but I stopped at Orion to bring some pesos for the cab ride home they covered. I went aboard to chat with Megan and it wasn’t long before Meagan showed up on her paddle board. We had some good girl time chatting. We realized the wind was really coming up and the bay was very choppy. Meagan didn’t think she could paddle back to Resolute and I surely wasn’t going to row. Luckily I had the motor. This was a good exercise for me to start the motor while the dinghy was pitching around and then maneuver it so I could pick up Meagan and tow her paddle board back to Resolute. I could not for the life of me make the dinghy turn to starboard – up into the wind and waves and back towards Orion. I ended up making a few loops to port until I got in position. I thought something was wrong with the motor, but Jonny later told me that it had to do with my weight being on the port side. In those rough conditions, it was important to stay centered or to the side you want to turn. I had not known this! I don’t get much dinghy driving time. I managed to get Meagan home and I only rammed Resolute a little bit (bumper dinghy!). It was good experience for me – it was a little bit outside my comfort zone, but I was doing it in inside the circle of all our boats, so I felt very safe – any number of people would come to rescue us if need be! Now I feel a bit more confident with the dinghy.

We did finally get our act together to take a trip out to one of the smaller islands and do some snorkeling. The water was amazingly clear and we spent quite a while kicking around the islands. So. Many. Fish! Jonny took out the spear gun that our friends Sharleen and Jon had given us. He attempted his first shot (and miss). I had the realization that I will not enjoy spearfishing. There I was, floating in womblike bliss, watching beautiful fish living their peaceful lives. I waved to Jonny and pointed out a huge, colorful parrotfish to share its beauty. He started after it with his speargun and I realized in horror that he thought I was pointing it out so he could try to kill it! I screamed “Nooooooooo” through my snorkel. I am definitely not cut out for this “hunter” role. I realize that animals eat other animals, and human beings are simply animals, and I do love eating me some animals on a regular basis. But the thrill of the chase? The excitement fighting with a reel and pole? The adrenaline that comes with aiming and firing of a weapon? No. No thank you. I even have to look away, while pitifully crying “thank you, poor fish, sorry for ruining your day” whenever I’m present for the catching and clubbing portion of fishing. I think I am much happier gathering nuts and berries from a bulk store and cooking up whatever the hunter brings home. I’m very thankful we don’t ever have to reel in a cow.

DCIM100GOPRO

 

As will often happen with us gatherer types, I finally had to admit it was time for a haircut. Typically, I get a haircut once per year, whether I need it or not.   Having long hair is not a lot of work, as some people may think. I have long hair mainly because I neglect it and short, stylish cuts require maintenance and frequent cutting, to keep them short and stylish. I rarely even brush my hair, which wasn’t so much of a problem when I had a shower and water came down from above and kept it all going in the same direction. When trying to be a professional, I would spend maybe 5 minutes blowdrying before I lost interest, and on many occasions I would realize in horror when driving to a client, that I had forgotten to brush it. I would frantically claw my hands through it in the car, and more than once I even cranked up the blower fan in an attempt to get it dry. I think you get the idea. I have little patience for primping.   Having been mostly ignored and devoid of harsh chemicals or styling products, my hair is ridiculously thick and healthy. Sort of like weeds getting out of control, you can ignore them until they start choking out more important things. When my hair is long enough to start choking ME out, that’s when I know it’s time for a cut. It starts wrapping around my neck when I sleep, getting caught under my armpits when I swim. Generally making itself a nuisance. With this extreme heat, I rarely will have it down, it’s just too heavy and suffocating. But given how long it was getting, putting it in a bun was like having a grapefruit on top of my head. Made it very hard to wear hats. I finally got a hat with a hole in the back for hair to stick through – best thing ever, and I promptly lost it. I’m heartbroken. Anyway. Meagan on Resolute was mentioning how she bought a very nice set of hair cutting shears with thinning shears (she has thick hair, too). I was very excited about the idea of her cutting my hair. She, not so much. She said she’d watched a YouTube video and cut her own hair. Erik told her she looked like she’d given herself a mullet. She was very hesitant to take on my locks. I had to work very hard to convince her that I truly didn’t care how badly it turned out. I started to tell her the story about the time I almost killed my cousin with a pair of scissors, but look of horror on her face quickly told me that was not going to win me a haircut. I really just wanted it gone and thinner and didn’t care if it looked terrible for a while (it always grows back). I knew that if I tried to do it myself and messed it up, I’d forever beat myself up about it, but if someone else messed it up I wouldn’t mind a bit. I’m not sure she believed, me but I finally got her to agree anyway. I picked her (and Nikka) up in the dinghy (my first time with a dog passenger) and we went out to the shady side of a rocky beach. She worked diligently and nervously for nearly two hours. She was surprised to find my hair was even thicker than hers. About six inches and ten pounds later, I felt GREAT! I was so grateful to Megan and she was still worried I wasn’t going to like it. I didn’t need to see it; I already loved it! In the end, she did a great job. Now I can go on ignoring it until it starts strangling me again. Even though it feels so much lighter, there’s still WAY too much.

haircut before haircut after

On our last day there, we did a ‘girls-only’ paddle. Resolute had a spare SUP I could borrow and Sylvia borrowed one from Orion. I have never been on a stand up paddle board before. It doesn’t look difficult, but it’s not something I’ve ever been that interested to try. Standing up isn’t one of my favorite passtimes. Given my back and hips, I do much better biking, swimming or napping. But I was excited to give it a try and see what all the fuss was about, and looking forward to more girl time before we said our goodbyes the next day. Meagan kindly gave me the more stable of their boards, while she persevered on the wobblier inflatable. It wasn’t as stable as I imagined, but I managed not to fall over. The paddling part was fun, giving me flashbacks to my 400+ mile paddle through the Amazon rainforest in a dugout canoe. I really liked the paddling part. Not so much the stand up part. I paddled on my knees for a bit and that was nice, too. We saw rays and fish and ended up on one of the rocky islands just outside the bay. We snorkeled and hung out in the water and had some nice chill time. We paddled back as the sun was setting. Meagan said she’d come back for the board later with their dinghy – or we would bring it to them when we went ashore for our last shower. Well, the wind started piping up and it got awfully rough out. Neither of us ended up going ashore, so we secured the board for the night to return in the morning. No last shower for us, but I wasn’t too upset – it would have been no fun to get a shower and then get soaked with salt water on the ride back in the dark.

First SUP

We got up early, as intended and prepared to set off for Puerto Escondido for fuel and water, and then maybe on to one of the anchorages on Isla Danzante or Carmen.   Puerto Escondido is considered to be one of the safe hurricane holes – although several boats sunk there in Hurricane Odile last year. A lot of cruisers spend a lot of time there, though. There is no town, and we heard it’s a pretty expensive cab ride into Loreto for supplies, we did not intend to stay in there unless we had to run in for bad weather protection.

I rowed Resolute’s board back and said “adios” to our friends. We were off for a new adventure! It was a hot but gorgeous day. As we approached Puerto Escondido, we could also see Honeymoon Cove just across the way. We decided to just go there and check it out and then maybe dinghy the few miles across to Escondido to scope that out for a later stop. We had enough water to last a few more days at least. We went to 3 different coves at Honeymoon before we found one that was just right. It was just big enough for Summer to fit comfortably and the water was gorgeous. We settled in and then dinghied over to Escondido to scope out the entrance and fuel dock situation, and to see of the rumors of a market there were true. When we passed the anchorage known as The Waiting Room, I counted over 20 boats in there. There was a market, but no fresh food – which is all we were hoping for. The owner said she could take a list and pick up whatever we wanted from town and deliver it next day. What a great service – we thought we might take advantage at some point?   Fuel dock looked easy enough. As we were getting ready to leave, we spotted Resolute coming in.

Honeymoon Summer all

We had a couple blissful days in Honeymoon Cove on Isla Danzante. It felt very remote and private (aside from a powerboat or 2 hanging out in the tiny cove 2 up from us). We did a couple hikes and a lot of snorkeling. When we were up on a peak we spotted Sang Vind coming in, towing their whole fleet (sailing dinghy, inflatable, SUP…). They checked out the coves and ended up in 2 down from where we were. They stopped to say Hi the next day.

 

Honeymoon Sang Vindw wave

Sang Vind hunting for a cove. Summer is off in the background far right.

Honeymoon Mahi mahi

Honeymoon sm cove

Honeymoon Summit

Looking off the north end of Danzante

We finally went over to Escondido to fill up with water and fuel. The fuel dock was full (Resolute was there!) so we went to a different dock to get water. The Fonatur there charges for the water, so they came and read the meter and told us it was ten cents per liter (cents being 1/10 of a peso, not dollar – which ends up being roughly 6 cents US for 2.5 gallons). We went to town – we gave Summer a good rinse, we got out a bin and washed some clothes and towels, we topped off our tanks and every container we had. We used about 147 gallons of water -which came to 56 pesos (less than $4USD). Such a deal! Meagan and Erik came over with Nikka to say Hi. They were planning to stay in The Waiting Room (the anchorage inside Puerto Escondido area) for a bit.  We went over to the fuel dock and topped off our gas cans and diesel tank (which came to around $44USD). Full up, clean and ready! We headed out to find Balandra Bay, on the northern part of Isla Carmen.

Escondido Summer

We had the most wind and roughest seas we’ve seen in the Sea of Cortez. It was great fun! We sailed SO fast – I saw our knotmeter pegged at 8 a few times (our hull speed is around 6). As we were racing along we saw a boat coming the other way, about to pass close by to us. We realized it was Mike and Nia aboard Azul. We all waved enthusiastically at each other as we flew past. They are hard workers that help a lot of other cruisers (Nia made our great mid-boat shade)– so they were probably headed back to Escondido.

Passing Azul

We made it into the very protected cove of Balandra. It immediately did nothing for me. Maybe I’ve been spoiled, but I couldn’t help thinking “Meh!”. My feet were killing me from all the hiking and feet related activities of the past week, so I was happy to just hang out and swim and snorkel for a few days. We had a nice dorado to eat for three days and eeked out what we could with our remaining veggies. Sang Vind came in the day before we left and it was nice to visit with them for a bit.  There was also a lovely sunset and a refreshing rainstorm – so all in all a nice little interlude.

Balandra Sunset Balandra Rain

We got up at the crack of dawn and motored across the 8 miles to Loreto. Getting in early meant anchoring and getting out before it got too crazy. Loreto is called a “road stead anchorage” which doesn’t make any sense to me in the wording, but I guess it somehow means “not a safe place to spend the night”. There is no protection or bay, you just anchor right there in the open and hope for the best. There was a tiny beach to land the dinghy and off we went to get our supplies. It was nice knowing exactly where we were going. We hit the two major stores and came in under budget enough to stop at an El Segundo on the way back (that’s second hand store). I wanted to get a swim skirt or something of material to make one – I need to cover my big ol’ butt when snorkeling so it doesn’t burn. I found just the thing, and a tank top and a very nice button down shirt for Jonny (Wearing light shirts is the most comfortable in this heat – haven’t seen the guy in a t-shirt in months!). Stuff was just piled on tables and I had to dig through for the treasures. Turns out they were 3 items for 100 pesos ($7.50) not bad!

Bow reflection Jenn

We even stopped for an ice cream on the way back and had a nice chat with some people who were Mexicans living in California but were visiting Loreto. It’s a very popular destination for tourists of all kinds.

Loreto Bug on me

I felt something on my leg when walking down the street in Loreto, and when I brushed it off, it was THIS…it is bigger than my outstretched hand. Yes, I screamed.

It was of course blazing hot and we got back to the boat and had some lunch (yes, the ice cream was actually breakfast for me…) before heading off to our next adventure. We got out of there just as the winds were starting and the boat was starting to roll. Perfect timing.

Fruit Laden

Laden with goodies

It was a quick sail, and then motor (the wind died) out to Isla Coronados. Beautiful spot, several white sand beaches and gorgeous aqua water. Coronados beach

It was populated by 4 large mega yachts when we arrived. We found our place over on the other side of the tracks and dropped the hook. One of the biggest yachts had a giant inflatable slide, 3 stories high, coming off the side of it. I was really hoping they’d invite us over to try it out. We even tried to wave when we dinghied past to the beach, but they ignored us. I guess it’s like people in mansions not wanting to wave at the folks living in the trailer park… One of them did anchor a very cool inflatable pyramid with a slide out at one of the beaches. It was very far from all the boats and no one was ever playing on it…so we decided to keep it company for a little bit.

Mega yacht slide

Coronados slide

We had a very exciting thunder and lightning storm on our first afternoon.  I think I’ve become obsessed with trying to capture lightning bolts on video:

We enjoyed a dinghy ride around the island to see really neat rock formations, which we decided to name. They may have already had names, but I’m partial to mine. We caught a bonito tuna on our tour as well, so that was a nice couple nights of dinner.

Sitting Bird

Sitting Bird Point (my name)

 

Coronados tuna

Dr Suess spire

Dr. Suess Spire – with an osprey nest on top!

Penguin Monkey head

Penguin and Planet of the Apes Rocks

On our third day, we heard that the wind was going to switch from south to north for a day or so, so we hopped over to the other side of the island for a protected anchorage from that wind. It was beautiful and “wilder” on that side and it was nice to be all by ourselves. The water was incredibly clear – we could easily see details of the bottom 20 feet down.  Later in the afternoon, the winds blew as predicted, and along came the fleet of mega yachts to descend upon our peaceful paradise. Apparently no matter how big your boat and how many toys you have, you are not immune to the effects of the weather and it got too uncomfortable for them to stay in the other anchorage. They must have all been together as they zipped around between each other’s boats constantly. Each boat had jet skis, dinghies and smaller boats, a larger fishing boat and a cigarette boat were all part of the entourage (any one of which easily cost 2x what Summer cost).   Speaking of cost, I was doing some figuring based on the smaller mega yacht I got info about, and estimated that it cost a minimum of $50,000 just to fill the fuel tank on the largest mega yacht there. Jonny and I could live in luxury and take good care of Summer for two years with that much money!! You might be guessing I am a little bit biased to our lifestyle.

Coronados clear fish

 

The wind settled down the next day, which also happened to be my 45th birthday. There had been talk of Sang Vind and Resolute meeting up with us to celebrate. They called on the radio and everyone sang Happy Birthday to me – which was pretty sweet. They were all in Balandra and enjoying it very much. They were trying to get us to come back up there to hang out with them that night. The last thing I wanted to do on my birthday was sail for a few hours in the wrong direction back to a place I didn’t like as much as the place I was in… so we all agreed to get together the next day. That was perfect – Jonny and I had a very nice day. I baked a chocolate cakeBday cake and marinated a steak to have for dinner.Bday Steak Jonny gave me the best present ever- a comprehensive foot massage! Normally I couldn’t pay him to devote that much attention, but on my birthday he always goes over and above in giving me what I want. Bday selfiesIt must be exhausting for him (or so I can assume; as he had to spend most of the next day away from me – he went on a hike to the top of the island peak and then came back and went out fishing for hours).

Resolute and Sang Vind showed up the next afternoon and we all planned to meet on the beach in the evening for dinner and cake (Dillon had made a chocolate peanut butter brownie cake!). The white sand beach and the palapas with tables and benches were the perfect spot for us all to hang out. Erik had caught a dorado on the way over and we had a snapper that day, so we BBQ’d fish on Resolute’s portable BBQ and everyone brought other goodies. Meagan had made a banana bread and I had some of my chocolate cake left, so it was a real dessert-fest! Everyone who had beers had to watch out for the alcoholic wasps that kept getting inside the cans. At the end of the night there were quite a few dead wasps inside beer cans – but luckily no one got stung!

Bday party  Bday BBQ

We had a nice last night in Coronados and prepared to take off the next morning, if conditions looked good. Little did we know this was to be the end of cooler, more comfortable evenings… (that’s foreshadowing, people!).

 

Day(s) in The Life

DISCLAIMER: I realized I could schedule blog posts to go live at some future date. So, you may be reading this new blog post, but it does not in fact mean that right now I am somewhere with Internet access posting it (just wanted to prevent possible disappointment for some…not mentioning any names, Mom).

Time for a “Special Topic” (AKA more words, less pictures) on what it’s like to live on our boat day to day (Thanks for the idea on this one, Anne). This is for everyone who is still wondering what the heck we are doing when not frolicking in paradisiacal locations. I struggled to sort this piece out, until I realized that our day to day boat life is wholly dependent on the state of the boat. For instance, life at anchor is completely different from life at a dock and both different from life underway. Therefore, “A Day in the Life” will need to be in three parts, cross pollinated and loosely organized as it may be.

Also, writing this piece made me think of this funny article that is also very similar to boat life. To quote Mrs Yardley : “I just love that I can be scrubbing the bathroom, look out the window, and see the tide coming in”. Yes we are in amazing places and seeing really cool stuff, but we still have our house and all the associated chores and maintenance (Jonny claims to have spent half of his day doing dishes yesterday and no, I’m not allowed to make eggs benedict again, although my hollandaise was divine).

Life at Anchor

Living “on the hook”, as we say, is much a more relaxed life and yet also requires much more diligence in many departments. Keeping a close eye on the anchor chain, wind and currents is extremely important. The number one goal for being at anchor is to STAY at anchor. As a rule, the nose of the boat should always be pointed into the wind – that’s her ‘natural’ state of being. If that is not happening, then something is going on – either a funky current down below is turning us around or the anchor maybe came dislodged and we’re heading off against our will (aka “dragging anchor”). Taking references points of things around us is a good idea and keeping an eye periodically is important. As the wind changes, the boat will swing around to remain pointed into it. This means that if we were to put out 150 feet of anchor chain, we could swing around in a circle with a 300 foot diameter. It’s very important to keep this in mind when choosing where we anchor. The depth of the water we are anchoring in will determine the scope (length of chain) we put out. Generally we try to do 7 to 1 – meaning if we are in 20 feet of water, we would put out 140 feet of chain. That is an extremely safe (and often overkill) ratio. We need to be aware of our surroundings – the depth, the obstacles, the other boats – in the entire area in which we could possibly swing. We have been extremely lucky never to have dragged anchor or swung around into another boat, etc. Once anchored, we put on snubbers – chains that reduce the wear and tear on the boat and act as a shock absorber when we bounce around. All of this needs to be checked regularly and more frequently if there is a lot of weather or current – to make sure it’s all still in place and we aren’t dragging anchor, chafing the boat, etc.

Water Consumption

It’s extremely important thing we pay attention to how much water we have while anchored (or underway). We have 100 gallons in our tanks and 10 gallons in jerry cans. We do not own a watermaker. We have a device called “The Water Fixer”, which is about 10x less expensive than a watermaker and filters our tank water with a charcoal filter and a UV light (it kills everything – we can safely drink Mexican hose water). We are extremely frugal in our usage at all times. We do not have a meter or gauge to see how much water we have, but we do have two tanks connected via a shut off valve and we can open portals in each and look in at each one. Both the galley and head sinks draw water from our lower water tank. So when that one is empty, we open a valve to fill it up from the upper tank. This gives us an idea when we’re halfway through our supplies. We often will make several trips ashore with our jerry cans to refill our upper tank (“We” usually means Jonny). We have just installed the salt water line so that our manual hand pump faucet on the sink will give us salt water. This will allow us to wash dishes in salt water, thereby making our freshwater reserves last a whole lot longer– and reduce the frequency of the often difficult task of finding and fetching water. We do give everything a freshwater rinse at the end.

Our toilet (called a ‘head’ on a boat – originating from old timey days when you would just literally go to the head of the boat and pee off the bow) sucks in salt water for flushing, so that does not waste our freshwater. It would be really sad if we had to limit how many times we could go in a day, especially after sketchy Mexican food… It either pumps overboard – under the boat, or it pumps into a holding tank (20 gallons) when we are in places that prohibit overboard pumping. Those places will then have pumpout stations to pump out the holding tank contents. What fun that is! All our toilet paper goes into a bin and has to be disposed of when we get access to onshore trash. Luckily we’ve always been able to empty it when full, and have not yet had to store tied up bags of used toilet paper. That’s disgusting.

Bathing

Bathing happens a little less frequently and with a little less attention to detail while at anchor. Soap and shampoo is stored in the cockpit cubby for easy access. It mostly goes like this: Undo swim ladder from stowed on rail position, and clip it into the brackets on the side of the boat. Make sure to have a towel or sarong handy. Jump overboard, play around in the water. Come out, maybe soap up or shampoo hair (maybe) and then jump back in the water. When you’re done, rinse off with the bug sprayer. We have one of those plastic pressurized tanks with a wand – you pump it up to make pressure and then nicely spray yourself off –only with fresh water, instead of pesticide. Dry off (or not) and hang towel or sarong out to dry (remove if it gets too windy). Our 2 gallons of fresh water can last through 3-4 showers for each of us (6-8 total) and we feel refreshed and ‘clean enough’. How’s that for water efficiency?!

Energy Usage

Another thing we need to monitor and be aware of at anchor is how much energy we consume. We have 3 large flooded deep cycle batteries (they look similar to car batteries but bigger and heavier) that provide the 12 volt power supply that runs everything electrical on the boat – lights, pumps, computers, radios, blender, etc. The batteries can be charged either from our two 140 watt solar panels, or by the alternator when we run our engine. We have an 800 watt power inverter – that takes the 12 volt power and converts it to DC power. This allows me to plug normal things in – such as my blender, mini food processor, my electric toothbrush charger, our dustbuster charger, etc. As long as it draws under 800 watts, we can plug it in and use it like normal (hairdryers are out- but who cares?). Using the inverter is great, but it is the least efficient way to use our energy – a lot of energy is lost in the conversion from 12 volt to DC.   Our batteries rely upon the solar panels for charging. Normally this is not a problem – we almost always make up energy in the day time and have plenty to run our lights and watch our movies at night. If it’s rainy or cloudy for a day or two, we might be in trouble. If it looks like we are running the batteries down, we may have to run the motor for an hour or two to fully charge our batteries.

Shade

It isn’t just nice to have, but as summer it becomes critically important. We have our cockpit shade structure – a plastic-y-canvas piece that drapes over our boom and secures around the mast and to the lifelines. We have phifertex (sort of a mesh/see through screen plastic-y-fabric) sides that can be put on or removed for each side of the boat. These block 75% of the sun, but not so much our views- making things MUCH cooler and more pleasant in the cockpit on hot, sunny days. Without these shades, our teal cockpit cushions become so hot we cannot walk barefoot on them. We now also have a rectangle canvas shade we can put over the boom forward of the cockpit shade and secure to lifelines with lines. We have a third shade which hangs over our whisker pole (which slides down from the mast and sticks out like a boom – it’s purpose is to pole out our jib in light wind, but these days it’s just a very expensive shade holder).  Shading the boat can make about a 10 degree temperature difference down below.  When it’s 104 out, this is quite nice.

Dinghy Safety and Security

Our dinghy (perhaps you know her as Peugeot) is our car, our only mode of transport from the boat to shore or any other places we’d like to visit without docks. It’s also handy for fishing trips. We are extremely cautious with Peugeot at all times. For example, where ever we are, we always pull the motor off and lock it to the back of the boat. Our motor is old and not very nice, but if someone were to steal it, it would be devastating for us financially and logistically. So we don’t take any chances, even if others in the anchorage leave their motors on overnight. There have been times we were tempted to leave it on (it’s late, we’re tired, everyone else is doing it…) but then we both have to think for just a second of how awful it would be to lose it, and we do the chore. The chore involves Jonny in the dinghy, loosening the clamps that hold it on, me on the boat undoing a clip and lowering the clip and line, which attaches to the motor, and is connected to lines and a pulley hoist system on our stainless solar arch. I then hoist the motor up to the boat and we clamp it onto the bracket on our stern rail – then lock it with a padlock.   A bit more involved than pulling your car into a garage for the night. Taking it out in the morning is the same thing in reverse. When that is done, we either leave the dinghy attached to the back of the boat, if we are someplace we feel very secure, or, we have to hoist the dinghy up onto the bow of the boat. Another involved process using lines and blocks and hoisting and sometimes toe stubbing, swearing or arguing.

Life Dockside

Being tied up to the docks at marinas often sounds like the easiest way to go. There’s a water spigot for unlimited water use (often free or extremely inexpensive metering), there’s shore power to plug into if we need to – which will then allow us to use all the AC outlets in the boat (there are 3 which we cannot use unless plugged in at the dock) which can be handy (it means I can run my blender in the galley instead of on top of the chart table, we can plug the dust buster into the bathroom and we can plug in computers in the main cabin (although our 12v plugs are numerous and very convenient as well).   You can also just step off the boat and walk someplace to get food or…away. There are usually real showers to use – unlimited fresh water pouring down on you whenever you want can be heavenly. And often there is access to wifi nearby or even on board. After a long stint at sea, being dockside can sound pretty enticing.

Then, usually after about 3 days, you are kind of over it and ready to get back out to the anchorages. It starts to feel oppressive and there are pressures to do things – like food shopping and taking a shower every day. getting absorbed into the internet. I find myself missing the joy of jumping overboard for swimming hassle free bathing and having a slower pace in general.

Bathing

Shampoo and soap are moved from cockpit cubby to a backpack, ready to transport to the shower facilities (don’t forget flip flops and towel). Walk to wherever the shower is and shower just like a normal person, Except wear flip flops and try not to get your stuff all wet or let your towel fall on the floor and hope there aren’t any giant dead cockroaches in the shower… Remember to take wet towel out of backpack and hang it up to dry when you get back to the boat. I know this sounds silly, but given the way my mind wanders, sometimes the walk from the shower back to the boat can make one forget such things.

Water Consumption

Use with wild abandon. This means we actually wash our hands till they are fully clean and use more than a trickle when doing dishes. Clothing can be washed. The hose comes out and Summer gets a nice bath. Or two. It’s always very exciting. Sometimes it’s even “free” (included in the price of the dock), sometimes there’s a meter, but it’s not usually that expensive.

Propane

Our galley stove runs on propane and we can only carry 2 tanks (about a month each). Getting a tank filled is not usually the easiest task because propane gas facilities are not usually located near to populated areas (probably due to the possibility of them blowing up). Some marinas offer services where someone will take your tank, have it filled and return it. Other times it’s an expensive cab ride to a facility, or a bus ride, lugging a tank (or once, a bike ride with a tank strapped on the back). Each time has been different so far. Who knows what will happen next time we run out?! (We try to fill one tank at a time so we don’t run out entirely). They often don’t get filled properly because for some reason no one ever knows they need to use a screwdriver in the bleeder valve to get it full up. It’s frustrating to pay for a full tank, send it off and only get ½ back. We’re thinking of writing instructions in Spanish and attaching them with a screwdriver to the tank.

Projects and Maintenance

When we are at a marina, we are paying to be there, so we try to make the most of that time by doing projects and maintenance that cannot be done or done easily while at anchor (or underway).   So, dockside life is rarely the most relaxing – it’s usually more of a GO GO GO sort of life. We make project lists and have specific things we want to accomplish each day. There’s always something to fix or improve on a boat (especially when that boat is your 24/7 home). On a side note – I have to say all the improvements we have made have a significant impact on our day to day lives. I don’t ever remember so much satisfaction from making changes to my homes in the past.

Life Underway

Sailing

I know, right?!?!? We live on a SAIL boat. Some of our time is actually spent sailing. Someone always needs to be in the cockpit, keeping watch, making sure we’re on course, adjusting the sail trim, avoiding collisions with other boats, etc. If it’s more than a 24 hour passage, we take shifts (3-4 hours each) so that we can sleep. Otherwise we just sort of do it naturally. Jonny loves to tweak on the sails, I prefer to be at the helm, or napping and reading. Of course I do attempt to improve my sailing skills from time to time as well.

Depending on the conditions, it can be fun and gorgeous, it can be excruciatingly slow, it can be wild and exciting. We watch the weather and hope to get somewhere between fun and gorgeous and wild and exciting. If there’s not enough wind, we will often have to use the motor. Then it’s loud and slurping diesel, but we don’t have any sails to mind (unless we’re motorsailing, then we leave the main up).

Bathing

Yeah. Not so much.

Cooking

When underway, cooking is often a much greater challenge. Pots need to be fitted with special tongs that them from sliding around, the stove needs to be unhooked to allow it to gimbal – and stay level while the boat moves around it (unfortunately our gimbal doesn’t work so well, but we do keep using it, hoping it will magically heal itself one day…). Things roll around the counter, stuff tips over, it’s hard to stand upright sometimes. Sometimes you just need to brace yourself and hold on to everything until a rough patch passes. All very exciting challenges that tend to make for much simpler meals. I usually like to prepare a lot of food and meals ahead of time to avoid having to do a lot of cooking while underway, but some is always inevitable.

One of the best parts of being underway or at anchor is tossing food waste overboard. It makes our tiny trash can last forever and it’s somehow a joyous feeling to toss an avocado pit or end of an onion out the companionway and over the side – it’s like “cooking with wild abandon” (while also clearing the small workspace).

Water

(see water consumption above – it’s the same except there’s no way to get more till we’re anchored or docked).

Energy Usage

Energy is usually not a problem when underway. If the solar panels aren’t able to do their job, we typically run the motor for at least some time (if / when the wind dies) during the trip. Our alternator will recharge the batteries in a very short amount of time. We also don’t use that much energy while underway since we’re mostly just sailing the boat or sleeping – not watching movies or making blender concoctions.

Sleeping

At dock or at anchor, we build our bed every night. Since we don’t have a normal V-berth, and we don’t like sleeping in separate bunks in the main cabin, we devised a new bed. When both bunks are pulled out (and are each twin sized) we put a board in between and cushion on top and then instead of sleeping front to back in the boat, we sleep crosswise on a gigantic (king sized-ish with some extra bits on the ends) bed. It’s a bit of a process to make every single night, but we have it down and can do it in just a few minutes. And of course we have to un-build it every morning so we can walk through the cabin. When we are underway, however, we just make up one of the twin sized settee bunks and take turns sleeping on that (since we can’t both go to sleep at the same time while sailing).

Conclusion

Each of these modes of living has advantages and disadvantages. The upside is that none of them last all that long before they turn into one of the others. But if we didn’t need to resupply with fuel and water, I think I’d love to be mostly at anchor or underway all the time. I would rank being at anchor as my favorite way to live. My ideal world would be anchoring somewhere that’s appealing enough to jump in for a swim every day, that’s safe enough to leave the dinghy in the water at night and a has a spot on shore to land our dinghy and leave it safely while we shop for food (and it’s easy to get someplace to shop for food). Oh and not too rolly. And so we go, from place to place in search of the perfect anchorage, or getting a marina when necessary, traveling with our home in between – adapting to each stage as we go.

As for a pattern of our ‘daily life’, I think the pattern can only be viewed from much higher up, as every day is so different and unpredictable in so many ways.

Perhaps I’ll just go with the Gatsby ending here: “So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.”

Or the Jean Baptiste Alphonse Karr ending: Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose [the more that things change, the more they stay the same]

Or the Rush ending “Constant change is here to stay”.

Choose your own adventure.

La Paz to Los Candeleros

Preparing to leave La Paz felt like we were preparing to go to the moon. Not in the sense of learning to live with weightlessness or anything like that, but rather feeling like we were heading off into oblivion of nothingness and we had to bring EVERYTHING we could ever want with us. We kept hearing so much about how there’s pretty much NOTHING north of La Paz in terms of food variety and supplies. I know there’s Loreto and Santa Rosalia to look forward to for food basics, but we had no idea how long it would take to get there – not because we don’t have charts, but there’s no way to chart how long we are going to stay in any given place. We’ve given up trying to predict that sort of thing. So, the best we can do is pack Summer with as much as she’ll carry and head off into the wild blue yonder–parts of which actually do look like the moon.

We had to put Summer back in order after her hurricane preparations – putting the windvane back on top of the mast, putting the radar reflector and flag back up, unwrapping the jib, and of course washing the new found dirt repositories we kept discovering.

We did some provisioning while still in the marina. “Running to the store for groceries” is quite a different project when you have no car and much of the day is well over 90 degrees. We were getting pretty used to walking out to the 4 lane road and crossing over to catch the #4 colectivo to most anywhere we needed to go. There isn’t really a “one stop shop” – even the big grocery stores vary in what you can get, so it becomes necessary to visit ALL the stores to get the most comprehensive collection of supplies. For example, a huge store with good prices –Chedraui, has most of an entire aisle devoted to mayonnaise, mostly one brand, and then all the apparently less popular brands (none of which are without soy or canola, but that’s a different story)Chedraui Mayo. There are also three separate locations in which you can find mustard in this one store. The very small Aramburo grocery store had an entire aisle devoted to deodorant.Deodorant aisle You just never know what you’re going to find, but when you find what you want, you best get all there is, because next time it may not be there.

The heat was so extreme during the day that it was difficult to get much done, but we persevered (my slave driver kept me from wandering off to the pool before I accomplished my task list for the day, but I could usually drag the slavedriver to the pool by 5pm when it was the most sweltering). We ended up at the grocery store late in the evening (lugging heavy groceries in the hot daytime sounded like a bad idea). We ran into Nia and Mike from Azul and it was fun to catch up with them and compare cart contents. We also got to talking about our need for a middle shade over the boom of Summer. We have a cockpit shade and a bow shade, but the middle is left exposed. We discovered that shading the boat makes a huge difference in comfort level down below. Azul had a random supply of canvas, and a sewing machine – so we decided to meet up with them when we got out to the anchorage and see what we could do. It’s amazing how much time and effort we now spend avoiding the sun, after spending so much time and effort to get to this sunny place in life!

Forward Shade

The new forward shade scored for a deal at Minney’s Yacht Surplus

We methodically checked off tasks from our “Get out of La Paz” list. I got Peugeot inflated and ready to use. Jonny brought our propane tank on the bus out to Marina de La Paz for the fill service, stocked up on boat and fishing supplies, found places to stow every new load of provisions and we finally paid our marina water and electricity bill and threw off the dock lines to escape land life. Our neighbor Ted was there to cast off our bowline and wave goodbye. Ted was a good pal at the marina, afternoon pool buddy and saved my butt at least once when Jonny was away (and the bilge pump wouldn’t shut off…). Hopefully we’ll see him out there aboard Forté one of these days.

Night Heron

A night heron welcomed us to the anchorage

Once we made the short trip and anchored out near the Magote, we breathed half a sigh of relief. So nice to be out on the water again!! But all the discomforts of land were still just a dinghy ride away. We did a LOT of walking with heavy packs on hard pavement. My dogs were barking! I developed painful plantar faciitis just in time to leave the city.

We had one last “Twofer” pizza night, I couldn’t even eat a whole pie and I wasn’t in the mood for a beer. We took our leftovers and hiked up the for a late night shopping trip to the Aramburo – another supermarket that is small but has a great selection of things you can’t find anywhere else (like real butter that has nothing but butter in it, parchment paper, snapware containers, a large selection of ground coffee, etc).

Fud Jonny

Luckily we didn’t have to hoof it all over the city scoping out canvas shade options. The canvas pieces Nia and Mike had were not quite the sizes we needed, but Nia offered to sew it up to exactly what we wanted. We were so happy to be able to give them some business and have it happen all right there in the anchorage. Nia did an amazing job in no time flat and brought us our new shade canvas the night before we were ready to head out. All we needed to do was put some grommets in it with our special grommet tool and it’s ready to go. We are hoping to catch up with those guys again up in the Sea – and be able to hang out when we aren’t in “Get Stuff Done” mode – they are really fun people who have been making the cruising life work for the past four years.

On our last run to the central market – the one where they have stalls for every category of food – I was at the butcher trying to get a few steaks and ground beef. I never know what cuts of meat are what and my Spanish isn’t good enough yet to find out, so I just try to get them to cut me something from a chunk that looks fresh and tasty. As I was awkwardly negotiating, a woman behind me says “You don’t want that, it’ll be too tough” and she starts speaking to the butcher in perfect Spanish. She gets him to make a few cuts to the center of a huge piece of cow and then I say how thick I want the steaks.   Turns out the woman is Italian, is a master chef and ran a restaurant in La Paz for eighteen years. Simply meeting a master chef was very exciting for me – but then it got even better! She no longer has her restaurant, but she does have a kitchen and makes her own Italian sausages and often makes meals for cruisers. AND her kitchen was just a couple blocks away and she’d was happy to take us there and sell us some of her sausages!! Anything else we might have needed could wait till our last Mega trip. I was on my way to get some real Italian sausages, made by a real Italian master chef. I felt like the luckiest person on earth! Silvia is just wonderful – I wish I could have spent a day (or more) talking with her. She speaks perfect English, Italian, Spanish and I think French and maybe some other languages. She also had sailed on a 24 foot sailboat and even wrote an cookbook for cooking on a small boat. It’s in Italian, but maybe my Mom can get her Italian class to translate for me? (here’s her blog, but it’s all in Spanish – I really need to get fluent! http://silvia-bernardini.blogspot.mx/ ). We got a few packs of sausage from her freezer and went away with a promise to reconnect when we pass through La Paz again. Why couldn’t I have met her two weeks earlier? Probably for the best or I might have spent too much of our cruising kitty on guided food shopping expeditions with Silvia.

Jenn Silvia

We were finally ready beyond ready to head up into the Sea of Cortez. We were later than we wanted and therefore felt the need to hurry up to the North to avoid getting caught in hurricanes. At the time there was nothing even brewing in the hurricane pot, so we felt like we could make a few stops along the way and not have very long passage days (and no overnights).

Underway Shade

Our new “underway” shade that Jonny sewed up in NH has proven to be a life saver. We wouldn’t survive sailing in this sun/heat without it!

Our first stop was Caleta Partida – the spot between Isla Espiritu Santo and Isla Partida. There are so many anchorages in this area but we had to just pick one, otherwise a month would go by before we knew it. The water was gorgeous and the surrounding islands were par for the course – desert-y moonscapes with cactus. It was nice but felt a little “meh”. But we were glad to be at anchor far from ‘stuff’ and we had a nice evening swimming and eating dinner. The next morning we set off in the dinghy to traverse the narrow, shallow waterway between the islands and see if we could find ourselves some sea caves to explore.SantoPartida waterway

The geologic wonders were awesome and oh did we find caves! All of it gorgeous and breathtaking. The best part was when we anchored the dinghy and set off to snorkel in and around and through some caves. I was a little scared at first, swimming the tight channel between 2 cave walls into what I knew not. Jonny chose to swim in through another opening and we met in the middle of the cave. The underwater views were amazing – looking out through cave openings into the clear turquoise waters. And the fish and coral! Much of the same we’ve seen all over, but it never gets old.

First cave jonny dinghy

Caves clear water Esp Santo caves water2

We spent the afternoon back at Summer and exploring the nearby beach where we anchored. It was kind of gross, the water was full of plant growth parts floating here and there and the beach was not all that picturesque. But the wildlife was the draw there. I saw this bird take off as we landed, and soon after I spotted a large rabbit scampering away. I wandered through the desert wilderness and spotted a chipmunk, all kinds of lizards and after diligently searching, I finally spotted another rabbit – and even got some video proof.

CP Chipmunk CaletaPartida Heron takeoff

That night I cooked up some of Silvia’s sausages with some of my homemade spaghetti sauce (my Italian grandma’s recipe) – it was delicious! I was transported to Italy for sure – it really tasted like something you’d get at one of those amazing hole in the wall restaurants in Rome. Very glad we have 2 more meals worth of these babies packed up against our freezer plate.

Is SF Jonny agate beach

Final descent into agate beach

Is SF bay ridge hike

We started at the far end of the beach and hiked up and across this entire ridgeline

Is SF red rocks summer peak

Yes, that’s Summer out there

Is SF boulders Jenn

Totally comfortable hanging out atop these rocks…just let me hold on to something

IS SF Bays all

The South and North bays of Isla San Francisco. Summer is the smallest one at the top of the picture

The next morning we headed out for our next destination – Isla San Francisco. Supposedly gorgeous and so picturesque that it’s photo graces the cover of our main guidebook.   We had some wind and then not so much. We motored past these 2 small islands which are a breeding ground for sea lions. Tourists come out from La Paz on boat trips to see and swim with the sea lions. Seemed like a very strange concept to us – given that sea lions were more of a scourge and often aggressive on the docks in Moss Landing. But there were baby ones, very cute and all making the signature sea lion barking noises. It was hard not to hear the barking and not feel a little bit annoyed, as was the old habit. The islands were really unique looking and we ended up doing a lap around to check them all out. Then we were on our way again for a rather slow sail out to Isla San Francisco. We picked a spot to anchor well behind the other boats there – then 2 left which put us really far away from the remaining boats. That’s kind of how we roll, I guess. We had a bit of a rolly night and decided there would not be another. Perhaps we’d anchor on the north side of the island or move on? At any rate we saw hiking trails and the potential for the guide book cover shot views. We landed on the beach before 8:30 am when there was shade. We made our way along the beach to the trail head and up along the ridge. Very rocky and much loose shale, but it wasn’t long before we had some lovely views. As often happens to us, we decided to “just go up to that next peak”. It was mostly a moderate hike, except for the part at the tippy top where I found myself belly down on top of a boulder that dropped off into oblivion on either side, inching my way across in hopes of finding a way to get to more trail on the other side. Luckily I didn’t panic and freeze up as occasionally will happen in elevated situations. Is SF red rocks hike  Is SF top sketchypart Is SF hike view down Is SF Jenn diving board Is SF Jonny at topWe just kept going and going and going some more. We finally had crossed the entire ridgeline of the Southern portion of the island. We saw the north anchorage and the rocky beach that was supposedly filled with agates. I wasn’t entire sure what an agate looked like, but I found 2 rocks that I suspected might be (and turns out I was right). Not many of them there, but piqued my interest in agate-hunting. From that beach we hiked across the flat middle portion of the island where salt ponds lay evaporating their liquid in pinky crystalline pools.Is SF salt pond The salt flats were sticky and soft and we kept waiting to sink up to our necks. But instead I found myself getting taller and taller as I walked along. The sticky sand was building up on the bottom of my sneakers! We stopped for a shoe cleaning break on the white sand beach facing Summer. Then we hoofed it back and decided to get the heck out of there – after watching Summer’s mast swaying steadily back and forth. Too rolly to even have a chill afternoon after all that hiking. We decided to head to San Evaristo, just 8 miles away. It’s a small fishing village with an anchorage, and possibly a tienda (more avocados??). It’s also where our friend Rob passed away last month and we thought it would be nice to pay our respects.

We had a decent sail and it was even a bit blustery (if a windy 95 degrees can be called blustery?) as we entered the anchorage. It was a cute little spot, but given the wind direction and anchoring options, we decided to leave the main village and head around the north side for a possibly more peaceful spot. We got it. The northern anchorage was calm, private and had dramatic views of the steep, jagged and very green mounts of the Sierra Gigante mountain range. There was a rocky beach (the smooth, round kind of rocks) and some caves under the cliff point. We happily anchored here and had a nice swim and enjoyed the views. The next day we went ashore to check out the beach and give Jonny a hair cut. We found the last little patch of shade with a good rock for sitting and I masterfully created a new and very short ‘do for the captain. Some of my best work yet.

N Evaristo Summer

The northern anchorage at San Evaristo. That tiny white spot in the water is Summer – hard to capture the gigantic-ness of the Gigantes

 

Just on the other side of the beach, past a rickety cemetery, was a huge salt farm. Large pools in various states of evaporation and pyramids of salt filled this area between the beach and a homestead oasis. There was also a road that led back to the village. We snorkeled the point and sat on the smooth rocks in the shallow, cool water. This beach was also crawling with agates! You could hardly turn around without tripping over them. I was in geologic heaven. Living in such a small space, I obviously cannot collect beach finds as I once used to, so, uh, I may or may not have a bag of agates hoarded away somewhere. Later in the afternoon we did the hike into town. We checked it out, not much but some simple homes of fishermen and their families. There was a restaurant at the farthest end of the beach, but we didn’t go that far. We searched for the little market but didn’t find that either. It would have been nice to get a few fresh veg items, but we were still fine without. We had a hot, sweaty hike back over the pass and threw ourselves down in the lovely smooth stone bottom waters for a bit. I may or may not have pocketed more agates when the captain wasn’t looking.

Granola bars

Granola bars, midway through cutting process

We had our last up close look at the dramatic Gigantes and cast off the next morning. We were headed for Puerto Los Gatos – a place that sounded just amazing with rock formations and very remote. We were in the stretch where there were no road – the road ended in San Evaristo and did not begin again until Loreto. It was a bit of a slow sail/ motor sail, but the views were gorgeous and I used much of the time to prepare some foods to keep us going. I have been experimenting with making granola bars, full of healthy, yummy bits. Easy to grab snacks and additions to our simple meals. I’ve also been making tabbouleh with cauliflower instead of wheat (if I ever find cauliflower again…) and black bean salads with garbanzos and the most common veggies – cucumbers, carrots, red onion. Things that will fill us up and not require cooking are high on my list these days! No longer are the nights cooler and good for cooking up a storm. The nights are hot and running the stove makes the cabin almost unbearable. Our two little fans are working overtime, for sure. Baking the granola bars underway was a good idea – we are not down below much and the breezes flow through and normalize it again quickly.

Unfortunately we had not caught any fish. I REALLY wanted fish that night in Los Gatos. As we navigated the scary rock shoals into the good anchoring spot, a panga racing down the coast came up to us. They were holding up langostas (lobsters!!) – did we want to buy some?? Hell yes we did! We got a large and a small for a total of 100 pesos (about $6.50). Finally I was to have my first Mexican lobster! It is illegal for non-Mexicans to hunt/trap lobster, but fine for us to buy them. Unlike the Maine lobsters I am used to, these guys don’t have giant front claws. You pretty much just eat the tails. So I steamed them up and melted some of the good real butter from Aramburo. We had a mix of zucchini and eggplant on the side. Delicious!

Lobstertails

Shortly after we had anchored, a power boat a little bigger than Summer came on in and anchored right next to us. In the most remote anchorage. So far from anything. So peaceful. Right. On. Top. There they were. Seemed like a group of guys on a fishing trip. They played music until 5:00 am. They were well behaved and seemed to be having a good time, so we just had to laugh at our situation. The next morning Jonny went off fishing after dropping me off on shore. I hiked the beach out to the famous ‘red rocks’ , which honestly didn’t look like all that to me. But close up, holy moly! These rocks were really something. They looked like cake batter that had been poured down the side of a mountain. Big, round dollops of red-brown. LG Red rocksIt was hard to get photos that captured how impressive they were. I hiked up a ways and got some good views. I spotted a few people snorkeling – they had swum over from a large catamaran charter boat. On my hike down I met the father and 2 sons from the cat. They were on a two week vacation from Mexico City. On their way to Loreto to pick up the wife and daughter, who were only interested in spending 1 week on the boat. They said the snorkeling was great and they seemed to be really enjoying their vacation. They are planning to buy a boat in France next year and sail it across to leave it in La Paz for their future vacation enjoyment. I asked how they liked sailing on such a big cat – and as I suspected (and the true reason I’ve never been on one)- he said “it’s wonderful, so big, stable and roomy – if you ever go on one, you will never go on anything else again”. Yep, I will avoid them at all costs, they are just WAY too nice, I think!

LG Sunrise winch

Sunrise in Los Gatos

LGRed Rocks scaly

Jonny picked me up at the beach and we got our snorkel gear and checked out the point. It was amazing, all kinds of rock formations and underwater caves and so so so many fish. I even got to study an octopus trying to conceal himself in a crevice, while changing pinky and purply colors. I spent a little more time practicing my free diving. I’m really bad at it. Aside from my very buoyant butt that fights to shoot me to the surface, I also lack decent skills and techniques for diving down. I’m working on it. Jonny kindly took videos of me and my struggles to help me see what I’m doing wrong. No, you can’t see them. A graceful whale I am not.

Despite our musical powerboat friends, we decided to stay put one more night. We were grateful for peace and quiet (they were not young guys, I think the first night tired them out a bit!). The next morning we set off yet again (can you say whirlwind trip?) for Agua Verde. Another 20 mile trip. We had some wind and another hot slog ever northward. Agua Verde had really neat rock formation, pointy rock islands and beautiful waters. However, I’m not quite convinced there was enough “verde” (green) in the agua. It looks pretty much the same color as most of the other waters, so I’m not sure how they got to corner the Agua Verde title…I want my dinero back! As we were anchoring, huge black storm clouds were rumbling over the mountain tops. AV Storm cloudsWe were preparing for a deluge soon. I was pretty excited, Jonny was scared (as is our way). We got Summer buttoned up pretty quickly, and realized the storm was blowing on ahead north without visiting us.   No rain to wash down Summer, just more hot stickiness. I had to throw myself overboard and was pleased to discover the water seemed a bit cooler there than Los Gatos.

AV hidden village

The first year Jonny and I met, he took a trip down to Baja without met. I hadn’t yet proven myself as hardy enough for such extreme conditions as the Baja doles out (“You don’t bring girls to Baja” I believe is what was said… ha. I proved that one wrong!). Anyway, point is, he spent a few nights camping in Agua Verde and noticed some sailboats anchored out. He even met some cruisers. It was the first inkling he had that this kind of life might be pretty interesting. Now, all these years later, here we are, cruisers anchored in Agua Verde.

Jonny wanted to go fish, so he dropped me on shore to scope out the town and see if I could find the tienda. The ‘town’ was more of a large multi-family farmyard. I saw pigs roaming about, goats, chickens, turkeys, cows. I was getting really hungry!! AV little pig  I walked on out past all the homes and up towards the mountains. It was very green and almost forest-like out there, I saw some quail scurrying across the dirt road that followed a dried up river bed. I nearly forgot I was in the desert (except for that I was encased in the sweaty slime I am so getting used to these days). I didn’t see a tienda, but on the way back through town, some women sitting outside a house called to me. I realized the little building next to them was probably the tienda. I asked if it was open and one woman got up and let me in. It was about an 8 x 8 little room, no refrigeration. A rag tag pack of dogs and children were running amok all around. Giant sacks of flour and rice, a rack full of junk food (mostly chips) and a wall with a low shelf of bananas, avocados, onions, zucchini-like things – etc. It all looked quite good, too – must have been a recent delivery. What luck. I loaded up and on the way out I spotted a crate full of mangos. There was also some sort of melon (“que tipo melon?” what type? She just shrugged and said “melon”). It smelled amazing, so I bought it. Turns out it’s like a really juicy, thin skinned, yellow cantaloupe. What a treat! Our power boat buddies showed up and anchored right on top of us again, this time in a much tinier anchorage. Sigh. So much for bathing privacy.

AV power buddies

Our powerboat buddies finally got a little farther away after almost drifting into us

 

At some point along this trip we heard a strange noise and discovered that our little bamboo shelf we had screwed up under the sink in the head, had fallen apart. I had really packed it full of stuff and it was an excellent use of all that space…but alas, I packed it too well. The little cheaply made bamboo case designed for CD cases, gave up the ghost. Out here, when things break, you can’t just run out to Bed, Bath and Beyond or place a two day Amazon prime order. Nope, you either gotta fix it, or do without (reminds me of my favorite old timey New England saying “Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without”). There was no place else for all that stuff to live (6mos-1yr supply of things); we needed that shelf! Lucky for me I have my very own handyman on board who knew just want to do. If you can’t fix it with duct tape, it’s not worth fixing!

Handyman box

My personal handyman

handyman box fix

You wouldn’t believe how much stuff fits in this shelf!

In the morning, our neighbors kayaked by and said a friendly ‘good morning’ but we were preparing the dinghy and didn’t get much of a chat in. We took the dinghy across to the other side of the bay, where Jonny assured me the “Verde” part came from. Still not convinced. We hiked up to the top of one side and got our views. Maybe the water was a liiiiittle greener than usual. I’m starting to feel like I have a sickness growing in me, the need to “summit” and look down on all the places I go. Hopefully I will get over this before destroying my feet and ankles… (flashback to my travels in New Zealand – every place I went, people took me up a mountain or hill to look back down on where we just were…maybe all Kiwis suffer from this summit sickness, too?). It was gorgeous though and after making it back down without too much incident, I was rewarded with a snorkel/swim off the northern beach.

AV summit

We can make it up to the top, right?

AV jc at top

Yes we can!

AV hike viewAV top view

We thought maybe we’d stay another night, but possibly we’d probably leave that day to head up to Candeleros. When we got back to Summer, the powerboat was dragging anchor and dangerously close to Summer. The captain was trying to pull the boat away using the small runabout boat they were towing. Why he didn’t just start up the boat and move it is a mystery…but they managed to move it and secure it. Just after that, another power boat, much larger (mini-mega yacht style) came in and wedged themselves right up against us in the tiny anchorage. We were definitely leaving! As we were pulling up anchor, the captain of our powerboat friends (we guessed the 4 guys hired the boat and there was a captain and 1 crew serving them) came up on the runabout and said the guys on the boat wanted us to have some marlin they had caught! It must have been 5 lbs of fish. We were happy to have it (and it had been flash frozen). We waved our thanks as we extracted our anchor from between the 2 boats and raced off out of the bay. And I do mean raced – it was WINDY!!! Most wind we’ve had in a while. And waves, too! It was mostly a fast, wild ride all the way to Los Candeleros.

AV leaving view

Flying away from Agua Verde

We squeezed our way between a huge rock island and the Baja shore (one chart said it was unpassable, one source said it was safe to do so, and it was! Whew.) and came around the corner to this bay that has a huge resort in it. I knew it had, but it was still a shock to see this giant building after so so so much of nothingness. But even more surprising was seeing 3 other boats in the anchorage and beginning to recognize them as we got closer. It was Sangvind, Orion and Resolute! An anchorage full of friends! We had not expected to catch up with those guys for quite some time still. But they have been sticking together and taking their time making their way north. As we were buttoning up Summer, Megan came by on a paddle board to greet us, Jonah stopped in the dinghy and Meagan, Erik and Nikka came out in their dinghy. It was so exciting to see everyone! They had all just shown up the day before, after spending an entire week in Agua Verde. They gave us the scoop on the resort – we were allowed to go hang out in the facilities and order food in the restaurants (even tho it’s one of those “all inclusive” places). They also have a free shuttle into Loreto (40 minutes away) – which is AMAZING! We know that Loreto is the only place to get more food, but there is no good anchorage in front of it, and the nearest anchorage is Puerto Escondido (a good hurricane hole), but a very expensive cab ride from there and no buses to get into Loreto. I’m really glad we decided not to skip this place! We will spend several days and then do a stock up in Loreto and then head out to various other islands that are worth seeing. Hopefully we will get to ‘buddy boat’ a bit and hang out with everyone.

Candeleros anchorage

We think the resort should give us sailboats more perks for providing beautiful views from their shores

Candel resort2 Candel resort

We spent our first day trying to relax. We went ashore and scoped out the resort. Pretty swanky place. The menu prices were very reasonable, but still a bit out of our comfort crange, so we will not be eating out. We wandered through it all feeling a mixture of “oooh” and “iiiccchh”. Some very comfy, airy spots to hang out and sit in cushiony chairs and use the unlocked wifi.

Orion invited everyone over for a potluck. Orion is only 5 ft longer than Summer, but it is just gigantic. Great boat for socializing! I was low on supplies for making anything impressive to bring (which causes me more stress than I care to admit). We did have that marlin to share, and I made some deviled eggs, which seemed disastrous (they were too small and not a single yolk was centered) and also some chocolate coconut truffles, which also seemed disastrous. In this heat, coconut oil is very runny and my patience tends to get runny as well. I chilled them and hoped they wouldn’t be a goopy disaster. After a few hours in Orion’s freezer, they were totally edible. Jonah had speared several fish that day and with the marlin, he breaded and fried up mountains of deliciousness. Meagan and Erik brought a tasty bean and cabbage salad and Sylvia and Frans (and their adorable if rambunctious boys –Dillon and Jaden) brought a great Indonesian rice dish. Perfect mix of things and everything got eaten up. It was great to feel stuffed for a change. It was also great to hang out with everyone – not just people other than Jonny, but people I already knew and like quite a bit. What a treat! I love talking with other cruising women – discovering that I’m not alone in the day to day issues that still seem foreign and all my own.

Orion potluck girls

Megan, Syliva and Meagan

Orion Johan Jaden Dillon

Jonah, Dillon and Jaden learning some cool computer stuff

Not sure how long we’ll stay here, but planning to head out to explore more islands as we continue our trek northward.

New Hampshire to La Paz

Our trip to New Hampshire and the subsequent three weeks are not much to write about, in terms of a fun and exciting cruising blog.  Hopefully a lot of pictures will distract you from the uninspired lameness of this entry.

In brief, my father was very sick and our entire visit was consumed with worry and trying to help as treatment was established. I left there not knowing if treatment would be successful or not – very tough to go. It was actually quite good that we were there to help out and be with them through the beginning of this difficult time..  As of now, my Dad seems to be responding to his treatment and heading for a cure.

NH Dad House

My Dad and the gorgeous house he built.

NH Barn Tree

The octagonal barn, also designed and built by my Dad.

NH Turtle

Snapping turtle roaming around rural NH

NH Plaid Pickup

Not two weeks in NH and I’m already wearing flannel plaid and driving a pick up truck

NH Mom pedi

While it was not the trip any of us had hoped it would be, Mom and I did get to enjoy cushy pedicures one afternoon.

NH Packing

Packing up all the supplies we’d ordered to bring back down with us

NH Jonny mows

Jonny kindly volunteered to mow my parents’ lawn

We were also returning to La Paz with a hurricane coming straight for us.LP Blanca

LP Wall o TP

This much toilet paper might cover the shit we’re going through!

We had much work to do to prepare Summer. Luckily hurricane Blanca did not have much punch here (just a lot of wind that covered everything with dirt, inside and out). My friend Meagan wrote a great description of our hurricane experience here at the marina – I won’t even try to improve upon this:

http://www.westernlens.com/2015/hurricane-blanca

Here’s my little video from hurricane day:

LP Hurricane dirt

This is what Summer looked like outside and inside…hurricane dirt everywhere!

 

Once we survived Blanca, Jonny headed up to be with his family to attend to some unexpected family business. I stayed behind at the marina in La Paz.

LP Jonny Chedraui hats

Jonny fitting in with the locals at the grocery store

 

When we were away, our friend Rob passed away. I’ve mentioned Rob and Lynne on Aldebaran, who we met in Chacala and Mazatlan. We last visited with them in La Paz before we went away. This was very sad news in our overabundance of times. I was glad to be able to see Lynne and share some cries and laughs. She is an amazing and courageous woman and I hope we run into her again after hurricane season.Lynne Jenn La Fonda

Twelve days on my own in La Paz weren’t so bad. I got to hang out with some friends, find a new taco shop, do a bunch of boat projects (yes I still love organizing!), begin provisioning (once we leave here, provisions will be slim pickins’) and have a daily exercise routine in the nice clean lap pool at the marina.

Nikka Resolute

Boat dog Nikka aboard Resolute with Meagan and Erik

Pinche Adolfo

I got a free hat at my new favorite taco shop: “Pinches Tacos” – kindly translated onto their hats,

LP Temps

FonaturPool

Jonny has returned and we have been preparing for our trek up north.  Much to do in terms of shading the boat properly (it makes a huge difference!) and provisioning (not much available where we’re goin). Seems to be a busy hurricane season, so we are hoping to be able to dodge them along the way. Stay tuned for more real adventures soon!!!

LP fonatur sunset

Wall o Mayo

The majority of the items in this aisle are MAYONNAISE. That’s right – see the long yellow section? That’s all ONE brand of mayonnaise, there’s many other brands beyond that. There is no translation into Spanish for “Hold the mayo”.

Bahia de los Muertos to La Paz

I don’t know why this continues to surprise me, but somehow we spent six nights a Bahia de los Muertos. The first 2 days there we didn’t even leave the boat. Big wind was predicted and happened. For once, listening to the weather worked out for us! Winds over 25 knots blew both nights, or so I was told. I slept right through it. I had six blissful nights of sleep with wild and crazy dreams, as only Baja seems to provide me. No cell service or internet around there – I wonder if there’s some connection?

muertos Summer

The water color is so beautiful there I just wanted to cry, or somehow become part of it. I did swim on the 2nd day, and it was a bit of a shock, being about 10 degrees cooler than what we were used to on mainland. But so clear and clean, and the white sand beach with so little built on it was a very welcome sight. When we finally ventured ashore, we walked down to the unobtrusive ‘resort’ buildings. We walked up the steps to one place and everyone there was acting like they owned the place, I just got a vibe…turns out they kinda did. The whole place was rented out for a wedding that night. Muertos resortNice folks – one woman told us about the Train Restaurant that was just up the way; she said we must check it out. Who are we to pass up seeing a giant train set in the middle of a deserted desert beach? The restaurant was a little ways back up into an arroyo. We were barefoot and the sand was SO HOT. Luckily by the time we arrived (out of breath from running and pain) we dipped our feet into the really cool pools in front. Muertos poolMuertos pool tableThe place was truly deserted except for a bored waiter texting on his phone. The restaurant/bar downstairs was open, airy and beautifully furnished and had a pool table and one of those shuffleboard sand games. Muertos trainsIt definitely looked like a place we couldn’t afford. Upstairs was just a balcony that wrapped around and overlooked the restaurant. Muertos Train looking outAside from the Ms. PacMan game and Terminator pinball machine, the entire balcony was a giant train-set. Muertos Ms PacIt almost seemed like some extremely wealthy gringo’s wife left him and he said “Oh YEAH? Well I can TO have a giant train set” or maybe he’s still married and his wife said “no more goddamn trains in this house!” And he said “Well, I’m going to buy a huge place in Mexico to support my train set habit, and I’m going to spent hours upon hours arranging tiny people and hotels and restaurants and train yards, and there’s going to be THREE McDonald’s”. It was pretty amazing, and really kind of bizarre – out there in the middle of the desert, just a flaming death run away from a gorgeous white sand beach and nothing else around.Muertos trains whole Muertos trains close Muertos Train looking out

 

On the run back to have our feet sizzle in the water, I realized that hot sand should be the next fitness craze trend. Drop a bunch of people off a couple miles into some flaming sand and tell them there’s a pool of water at the other side. Trust me they will NOT stop running at top speed till they get to it, and they will pick their feet up really high, too. Mental note: Do not wander off on a beach without flip-flops again.Muertos hot sand

We walked all the way to the far opposite end of the beach, which is where there is one restaurant next to the area where all the fishermen come and launch their pangas (it’s only about a 20 mile drive to La Paz from there, so it’s a good fishing tour destination. We had decided to splurge on lunch at this (more affordable than Los Trenes, but still pricey – no competition!). I decided it was high time I had a cheeseburger in paradise. Which led to some Jimmy Buffet discussion and to the bet regarding lyrics to “Margaritaville”, in which I lost heavily and had to do the dishes for 2 weeks. It turns out I really have no idea HOW he blew out his flip flop. I don’t want to talk about it.

Muertos buger paradise

We had an idyllic beach day with our new beach umbrella (such a good purchase!).   I met Sherry and Ken from Cake (I love that boat name, and have yet to find out how it came to be), who were walking on the beach (Jonny was passed out under the umbrella). They are also part of the “Summer in the Cortez” crew, so we’ll be seeing them again and again (already have…). We also spotted Orion, which we were pretty sure was our neighbor in Moss Landing (we met Megan on the docks a couple times), but they left before we got to confirm.

Muertosunbrellabeach

Muertos coralWe had an amazing snorkel day, too. The water is SO much clearer in the Sea of Cortez (just north of Muertos is considered the beginning of entering the Sea). It was so mesmermizing and I could snorkel forever – but remember how cold the water was? We snorkeled until I was shivering.

 

Puffer caught

Accidentally caught a puffer fish! They are so cute. He deflated himself and swam away when we let him go.

Balandra sand mushroom rock

That little speck on the right is Summer

We and the wind were finally ready make our way North. It was an easy/slow-ish sail. Cake passed us (we caught a fish which slowed us down a bit) and we were about to catch up to them when we caught ANOTHER fish (neither was edible and got returned to swim another day).  Cake We decided to spend the night at Balandra Bay, just before La Paz. We’d been to Balandra twice on our driving trips to Baja. I’ve had a picture of the bay as my desktop on my computer for 3 years. I’ve even tried to Photoshop an image of Summer into it. I have been waiting for the day when Summer would actually be anchored in that amazingly gorgeous water – I could hardly believe we were there! BalandrahongoBalandrda hongo summer Balandra water rocks  Balandrabeachwater Balandra2 Balandra Summer  Balandra Jn summit Balandra JJSummer  Balandra bay smmerWe anchored just off from the iconic El Hongo (Mushroom) rock and hurriedly got the dinghy ready to go ashore. We hiked up 2 different peaks and stared slack-jawed at the beauty.   Back at the boat we swam and got ready to make dinner. There was a huge, fancy ketch with it’s mainsail up, but not sailing and a bunch of support boats taking people here and there. They then moved to the other side of the bay and we could see groups of people here and there that appeared to be filming something. At one point a smaller boat came up to us and we were looking forward ot chatting with them. The guy on the bow was not very friendly and asked us (I think) if we could just move back a little. Apparently we were messing up their scene? The thought of heaving up 150 feet of anchor chain, starting the motor and trying to re-anchor someplace we didn’t want to be wasn’t very appealing. And this guy wasn’t nice OR flashing any pesos at us, so we said “No, es muy difficile” and they went away without another word. Very strange.

Balandra view3

Balandra is not known for being a very tranquil place to spend the night, but, you know us, we’re hard core. It was NOT a very tranquil night and the Captain didn’t sleep well, I even woke up in the middle of the night and crankily thought “what is this all about?!” before I fell back asleep. We planned to get out of there early and head to La Paz. But first, we should check out the other side of the bay – there are two beaches I never got to go to, and probably some good snorkeling. Well, the snorkeling was ALL TIME! We swam in and around a little reef island and it was just magical. I spotted a shell of one of the puffy sand dollars and wanted to get it. It was my first real motivation to try to dive down to the bottom, fighting against the buoyancy of my own bottom. I actually touched it, but it was between coral and I chickened out and/or lost breath. Jonny ended up getting it for me. It’s not quite as amazing as the one I found a few years ago at Punta Chivato (camping trip) – that one looks like a turtle shell and was my prized piece in my extensive shell collection (which now belongs to my nephew). We checked out the beaches and hiked up a huge white sand dune and marveled at the view from this side.

Balandrawater jenndown

Balandra flippers

DCIM100GOPRO

We left quite a bit later than planned, but we did actually leave. It had been about eight days since groceries with only one meal out, so we were pretty well out of food. Plus, it was Wednesday and we had it on good authority that there was a good pizza place that had two for one pizzas on Wednesdays (I texted Jon from Prism for the name). It was just a couple hours to get to La Paz.   Entering La Paz was far more exciting than I imagined it would be. It feels like such a familiar place to me, we’ve driven all the coastal roads and I recognized everything. We passed by the ferry docks, the super expensive marina Costa Baja (aka Costa Lotta), the crazy water slide I’ve never gotten to go on, the Chinese hotel we used to stay in and the Malecon. We ended up anchoring far out near the navy facility. There were lots of boats and a variety of places to anchor between the Magote (the weird strip of land that runs along the outside of La Paz Harbor and La Paz itself). We spotted a few boats we recognized as we buttoned up Summer and made our way to the dinghy dock at Marina La Paz. We were at what we used to consider “the way far end” of La Paz. We had a lovely walk along the Malecon, it felt so nice to be some place familiar that I also happened to love. We were so happy to have a rooftop table overlooking the water (I know, we aren’t sick of it yet, how weird is that?). The pizza was an incredible surprise- hands down the best pizza I’ve ever had in Mexico. OK I know that isn’t saying much as the worst pizzas I’ve ever had have been in Mexico (hotdogs on pizza? No thank you), let’s say it rivals pizza places in California. As if that weren’t enough to thrill me, it turns out they also had CRAFT BEER. I kid you not. We each ordered a pint and then a flight of samples to go with our two pizzas. We finished every drop and crumb and floated back down the Malecon, not missing the gelato place I took mental note of on the way there. Pizza, beer and gelato. I’d say that was a perfect trifecta.

LPgelato LP Supreme pizza LP cheers

Thursday happened to be organic farmer’s market day not far from the marina. It was tiny and there was only one table with veggies, but what a table it was! Apparently there’s the farmer comes in from near Santiago (mid-Baja – near Agua Caliente, where we’ve also camped). We scored a pile of veggies and some sausages, eggs and bread. We spent a couple more days stocking up on food, visiting our favorite pastry shop and restaurant. We were disappointed to see that half of La Fonda, our favorite restaurant, had been sold out to an OXXO (like a 7-Eleven – and like 7-Elevens in the US, they seem to be on every corner around here (I once looked up how many 7-Elevens there were in Chula Vista. Seventeen. For real. Who needs that much crap food?!?). Anyway, our favorite seating area was all that remained. We were the only diners for dinner. We told the waitress how we loved the place and how sorry we were to see the OXXO – she nodded sadly and said it had been almost a year since it arrived. She then brought us complimentary shots of tequila. We were surprised and grateful, thinking she must really like us and we were very special customers. It wasn’t till we left when I noticed the sandwich board outside advertising “Free Tequila with each meal”. Oh well, it felt good to think we were special for a little while!

LaFonda

Our favorite restaurant is just inside this wall, small and unassuming, with excellent food and bargain prices.

LaFondameal

We began sorting things out for our upcoming trip to the States. In lieu of my parents sorting out a big expensive trip to Mexico, they are giving us a trip to New Hampshire, which coincides nicely with our need to renew our tourist visas by leaving the country and returning. We had to figure out which marina was going to be graced with a long visit by Summer. It’s all about price and security. As suspected, we opted for the Fonatur – the cookie-cutter government-run marina. They always have the worst locations. This one is 2 miles away from all the other marinas, back in a ditch at the far end of the bay. But oh boy is it cheap! Not only is is now “off season” rates, but if you stay for a month, you get a 25% discount. So, it would cost the same to stay for 3 weeks as a month. So we opted to sign up for a month, giving us time before the trip to take care of a list of projects, and a few days to recover and re-supply before heading out into the Sea when we return.

LP dead boat

This sad, naked boat stands sentinel along the narrow channel into the Fonatur. A grim reminder of why we do not want to spend hurricane season down in La Paz!

With that all settled, we decided to leave La Paz for a few days. The La Paz anchorage is notorious for “The La Paz Waltz”. Weird wind and currents often have boats dancing around in a variety of directions. Normally boats at anchor will all point into the wind, and swing around together and usually avoid knocking into each other. Not so in La Paz. Things being kind of crazy at anchor, coupled with the fact every time we go ashore money just evaporates from our purse (15 pesos to dock the dinghy, 15 pesos for a shower, and that’s just after going 10 feet onto shore! etc.), made us ready for a little quiet island time. We decided to check out Bonanza anchorage at Isla Espiritu Santo. It is just over twenty miles from La Paz, so we figured we’d get a couple nights in and then head back to hang out with Alex and Naomi from Lunasea.EspSantoWater

ES Desert Tree ES Desertcactus

Bonanza has turquoise waters and a 2 mile long white sand beach backed by pristine desert landscape. Epiritu Santo (like all islands in the Sea) is a national park. There are ton of anchorages on the other side of the island, too, which I hope to visit in June on our way north. Poor Jonny had a sore neck (bad nap?) and wasn’t up for doing much. We managed to get ashore and set him up on the beach under an umbrella. I took off to explore the desert and beach. I had forgotten how complex and beautiful – and QUIET – the desert is. I found myself wandering in and around the cactus and spiky shrubs that want to stab you. I saw a long eared rabbit hopping away from me, cactus bones and beautiful orange flowers. I walked through the desert all the way to one end of the beach where there was a giant rock point. That end of the beach was just gorgeous. The sand was so white and covered in perfect coral specimens and white shells. You could clearly see how they make white sand! ES ShellsThe water was crystal clear and black crabs were scampering all over the rocks. I was just in awe of it all.   ESDesertViewThe tranquility and beauty was soon shattered by angry seagulls trying to peck my eyes out. They made loud barking noises and swooped directly at my head. The first time it happened I ended up throwing myself onto the sand and tossing handfuls of sand upwards. It was rather terrifying. But I soon figured out that they weren’t really going to make contact with me, they were clearly warning me, though.

 

 

EspSantorock

There was a long row of these territorial, Hitchcock-like seagulls. I had to go way up the dune towards the desert to get by them all. When I got back to the umbrella, Jonny was sorry he missed out on watching my attacks – but luckily I had a video. I accidentally forgot to turn off the camera, so this video actually went on and on for minutes, very “Blair Witch Project”, but this shorter clip will give you the idea.

 

We had a bit of a wind event and Jonny needed to let more anchor chain out. It was kind of rough and he ended up hurting his neck a lot more. There was no way we were going to leave on the 3rd day. I made him a neck brace out of rolled towels and he spent an entire day holed up watching movies. It was a good opportunity for me to get some confidence taking the dinghy ashore by myself (yes, that’s what it was, it definitely wasn’t payback for all the times he’s left me alone, flat on my back in pain…).

Jonny neck floating ipad

Jonny got tired of holding up the ipad, with his sore neck -so he rigged it up to float!

I went to the other end of the beach and dragged the dinghy as far up as I could by myself. I found two huge pieces of coral to put the dinghy line around, just in case the tide came up. I set up the umbrella and felt pretty satisfied with my solo beach landing skills. I did a long hike on the dunes between the beach and desert. So much I wanted to explore! Mounts to summit, critters to see, shells to sift through. I could spent a full week at this place! As I was heading back towards my umbrella, I noticed it had blown over. So I ran along to save it, figuring I could come back for shell-peeping after. After I got everything settled, a mega-yacht pulled in an anchored right across from me. It spilled out a dinghy and a jet ski. A guy started zipping back and forth on a jet ski. Peace and quiet ended by the rich and famous, I grumbled. But the guy gave me a big smile and wave as he passed by – he looked so happy I couldn’t help but smile and wave back. Next thing I know, he comes back with another guy. They land right next to Peugeot walk up to me. My “woman alone, wearing only a bikini, far, far from anyone or anything” instincts give a little jolt: hyper-analyze these guys and don’t mention your husband is incapacitated!! But I was immediately disarmed by a handsome guy holding two beers and a bag of chocolate chip cookies. He offered me a beer and the cookies – which their chef had just made. Apparently if you give me beer and cookies, I’ll be your best friend. Who knew? Turns out these guys were not 1%-ers on a romp – they were five hard working guys enjoying a perk from their vendor on a company yacht. I’m terrible with names and I forgot my camera that day…but (Jim?) the vendor in charge of making sure these guys had a good time, was the one who brought me the beer and cookies and he looked vaguely familiar to me (never figured out why)- easy going guy who used to be a yacht broker. The other four guys who came ashore were obviously having the time of their lives on this trip. They were all so happy and relaxed –it was their last day before they had to go back to the grind. They invited me to bring Jonny over later in the evening for drinks and to see the boat. I REALLY was dying to see the inside of one of those boats – but unfortunately poor Jonny’s neck was too messed up –and I wasn’t going to leave him to fend for himself in the evening, too.

The next day we managed to pull anchor and head back in to La Paz. We anchored at the beginning of the harbor to avoid anyone doing the La Paz Waltz. Alex and Naomi were up for dinner, so we went ashore to shower and meet them. On the way we ran into Aldebaran and stopped to visit with Lynne and Rob and their friends (Chris and ? – see, I’m terrible!).  There really are no ‘quick visits’ in the cruising world – but we just roll with it and managed to drag ourselves away before it got too late.

We shared arrachera (yummy marinated/grilled meat with all the fixin’s) for dinner and then I dragged them all out to the gelato place. We love hanging out with those guys – and happy that was about as wild as our nights ashore get.

We had one more day in La Paz to load up on groceries, have breakfast at La Fonda – our favorite restaurant-turned-half-OXXO and we headed up to the marina. Marina time always means “work your ass off”. We had a list of projects to do to prepare for the summer and for our two week trip to the States to visit my folks. “Summerizing” the boat, as it were (that makes me laugh almost as much as “our solar system”) is quite a bit different than winterizing. It gets HOT – and so far we haven’t experienced nearly the temperatures we will find in the northern Sea. Our teak work was over-due for a maintenance coat of Cetol – and the sun/UV is really harsh on that so we didn’t want to let it go. We put in SO much work getting it that way, we’re not ready to give it up yet. But we do know eventually we will let it go, strip it off and just do an oil on bare teak thing – this Cetol stuff is SO much work!. We did some of the maintenance coats in San Diego, but ran out of time and figured we’d finish down here. We spent an entire day taping and scuffing up the toe rail and cockpit coaming. At 5:00pm a guy from the marina came down and informed us we were not allowed to sand, paint or varnish by ourselves at the marina (environmental reasons, they claim, but we saw some pretty harsh-to-the-environment stuff going on in their boatyard…). We HAD to put a coat on because we’d already scuffed it all up. So the next morning we left the marina and made our way out the long narrow/shallow channel and anchored. We got our teak coated in just over an hour and then we had to wait all day for it to dry and for high tide so we could get back down the channel. We kept ourselves busy with plenty of other projects. Jonny got the oil changed and I went through all our supplies and took inventory and reorganized and cleaned (yes, I still love doing that stuff!). We were thinking of maybe getting up at dawn and putting the 2nd coat on the next morning, before marina admin came in. But that evening, the guy from the office came to the boat with a clipboard. He went on and on for quite some time about gathering signatures, and a boat in slip C-2 that caused a great deal of problems and on and on. I had NO idea what he was talking about; I thought he wanted me to sign a petition of some sort to save the world. Finally he handed me the clipboard and there was a piece of paper stating in both English and Spanish, that I solemnly swear not to sand, paint or varnish my boat in the marina (or something along those lines) and it had a signature line with both my and Jonny’s name. Very odd timing! Jonny was off hunting down a beer so I signed it and waited to tell him I think our plans had just been foiled. We didn’t dare do anything to piss off the folks who were going to watch Summer for two weeks while we skip town!

F teak

Somehow we had a very cold morning for painting teak. Felt like being in Moss Landing again!

 

The next morning we motored out again to anchor and put on the last coat. We had too much work to do that involved being off the boat or using Internet – so we could not afford to spend an entire day out there again. But we also couldn’t just wait an hour or 2 for it to tack up because the tide was dropping out and it wouldn’t be possible to get back in until late in the day. So we hurriedly did our last coat and decided to risk getting back and not messing it up. The tide was already dropping out and we knew it was going to be sketchy getting back down that shallow channel. We picked our route as carefully as we could with what we’d observed the past couple times. The shallowest spot was right between the first 2 channel markers. With some anxiety we watched the depth sounder like hawks. There it goes, 4 feet, 3 feet, 1 foot, under 1 foot…WHOOOAAAA! I felt Summer’s keel dragging through some heavy mud, Jonny yelled “Rev it up!!” so I “floored it” and Summer powered through into slightly deeper waters. That sure got my heart rate up!! We are still debating as to whether this truly constituted “running aground”. We’ve had the saying stuck in our heads for quite some time: “There are two kinds of sailors, those who have run aground and those who haven’t yet”. I believe it counts (based on hearing other people’s stories when they said they’ve “run aground” – I used to think it meant simply crashing into a beach or onto rocks and being stuck there). We managed to dock without messing up our handiwork. Whew. But a poor fly did not fare so well and got his little feet stuck in the wet cetol. Glad to have that task overwith!

FStuckfly

Our next task was to work on more shade possibilities. Our teal cockpit cushions already get so hot in the sun that we can’t stand on them barefoot. Shading the boat can also mean up to a 10 degree difference in temperature inside the cabin. Our dodger has zippers sewn into the front of it to allow for an additional bimini to zip onto it and shade the cockpit. We have enough Sunbrella fabric left to make such a shade. We decided to mock up a template with some cheap fabric ($1.50 from the fabric store!) and bring it all home and try to make it with my Mom’s help on her sewing machine.

JC shade template

The farther we get into the Sea of Cortez, the safer we will be from hurricanes, but also the more remote it is and less access to food and water. In order to make our fresh water supply last as long as possible, it’s a good idea to wash dishes in salt water (with a fresh rinse at the end). Heaving buckets of salt water on board gets old really fast (been there, done that). We decided to convert our hand pump faucet into a salt water faucet. We have three faucets on our sink – the ‘normal’ one that gives water from our tanks using the 12 volt water pump, the hand pump, which as you may guess, you pump by hand to get water from the tanks, and our drinking water faucet that purifies our tank water through a charcoal block filter and a UV purifier (killing EVERYTHING – we drink hose water and it hasn’t sickened us yet!). Jonny made a T from one of the salt water intake lines and  ran it to the hand pump. Now we can do dishes with salt water without heaving buckets! With this we can pretty easily go 3 weeks with our 100 gallon tank.

Fonatur break

We did manage to take a couple hour break to enjoy the lap pool at the marina

 

Laundry, arranging airport transportation, placing orders for stuff we want to bring back from the US, cleaning/stowing the dinghy and cleaning/defrosting the fridge and otherwise preparing the boat to be left alone are a few of the other things on our list.

 

J A Bagels

Alex and Jonny enjoying bagels at this amazing bagerly Alex and Naomi have discovered. They were the real deal!!! What a treat.

We also made time to go into ‘town’ (back where the other marinas are), to check out the nautical flea market going on. Our friends Alex and Naomi on Lunasea met us there and had offered to take our propane tank for us and bring it ashore to get filled. There’s a service at the marina there where a guy takes everyone’s tanks out to the propane place and gets them filled and back by the afternoon. Jonny locked our tank into their dinghy and we hung out for a bit. Naomi was telling me how she’s just met Megan and Jonah and they were also from Moss Landing. As I was saying we’d met Megan briefly and thought we saw them on Orion down in Muertos – Megan walks up to us and says “I think I heard my name!”. So we finally got to talk with Megan and Jonah- they’re awesome! They will be up in the sea with us this summer as well.   Later in the week we all met up for 2 for 1 pizza night. Megan and Jonah had 3 friends along, too – from Santa Cruz (Chris, Chris and Matt. One Chris had come down to buy a boat in La Paz and his friends were there to help him bring it home. That made 9 of us for pizza night – we got 8 pizzas for the price of 4 (and lots of beer), which seems like a much better deal than 2 for 1! We had a lot of fun and we’re so looking forward to spending more time with this crew (and really happy to have “girl-time”).8for4 pizza

We leave Monday morning at 6:00 in the morning, if the taxi we arranged actually shows up at 4:30am. Fingers crossed!!

 

 

 

Food Afloat: Cooking and Eating Aboard a Tiny Ship

If you aren’t much of a foodie, you can skip this entry and not miss any Summer sailing progress. [Also, I’m open to suggestions for other topics!]  This is going to be a pure indulgence of one of my favorite subjects. Basically, I love food and this is my blog. So here it goes.

I have loved to eat my entire life. At six months old, my mother had to cut slits in my t-shirt sleeves to accommodate my hugely fat arms. “More!” was one of the first words I learned. It may be because I was surrounded by so much delicious, fresh and home made food since I was very little. We always had a big garden, my Mom always made homemade bread, my Italian grandmother always had delicious home cooked food from ‘the old world’ for us, my Jewish grandmother’s chicken soup always cured whatever ailed me and holidays were always all about being together, and whatever food went with that holiday rather than religion.

jennbaby

My parents often went through food and nutrition trends: There was the ‘little to no red meat’ phase in the 70s and beyond, I wasn’t allowed to have sugar or candy often, if at all (this led to a hoarding phase on my part, where I always kept a stash of candy hidden in my room (that ended abruptly after the horrific under-bed ant infestation of ’82. I still have nightmares), the “Low Fat” phase, the No Salt era (to present) and of course the on-going avoidance of canned, packaged or pre-made foods. I never even saw a ‘TV dinner’ in real life until I was 17 (at a friend’s house) – not to mention the idea of eating a meal in front of the TV. I was always proud of how, even though my Mom worked full time, we always sat down at the table together for a home cooked meal every night. If I had a softball game, they’d wait until I got home and we’d have a late dinner together.   Not only was the food delicious and healthy, but also dinners around the table were always full of laughter and stories. I always associate food with happiness, good times and traditions.  When I’m unhappy or stressed, I can hardly eat, and at my worst post-break up depression, I even lost the ability to cook my signature fettuccine alfredo properly.

When I left home to live on my own for the first time, I was dismayed to discover how expensive it was to eat the way I’d become accustomed to eating. I (half) jokingly berated my mother for raising me in a way I couldn’t afford to maintain on my own. But soon enough I was able to prioritize food and eat fairly well on cheap stuff. After college I earned the title “pasta queen” – I would make a huge pot of my Italian grandmother’s spaghetti sauce and just eat pasta pretty much every night. Oh to be young and impervious to carbs!!

Fast forward to the past ten years and I’ve become someone whose favorite hobby is experimenting in the kitchen (I’m talking about cooking and baking here). I may also be a wee bit obsessed with nutrition and health. Every time I had to look for a new home, the kitchen was one of the most important factors – no oven? No way. Electric stove instead of gas? I don’t think so. Tiny fridge and no freezer? Nuh-uh. These are challenges you face when trying to find affordable housing in Santa Cruz, California. I’ve also continuously studied up on all the food trends and real nutrition science.  I love learning as much as I can about how food affects our bodies. My own body had become a experimentation lab – I tried all kinds of things to keep myself healthy and in shape, found lots of things that worked and also many that don’t. I always took every trend with a grain of sea salt – most are too extreme and end up being unhealthy if you follow too strictly. I’ve never gone whole hog following any particular trend- Paleo, Gluten Free, Low-Carb – all get a little cultish and creepy if taken too far. I mean, when a mainstream grocery store advertises “Gluten Free Canned Tuna”, that’s just bizarre and even more bizarre if that sign prompts someone to buy that tuna.GF Tuna I mostly just eat REAL food – almost everything I buy has just one ingredient – what it IS. If I want more complex things, I make them myself. Of course, given how much I love to eat and try new things, I do succumb to falling off the wagon from time to time—no sense in depriving yourself of EVERYTHING all the time. I do believe that diet and exercise are the true keys to health – there are no magic bullets and it’s all hard work. I discovered a lot of things that work and don’t work for me (and everyone’s different – there is no one size fits all when it comes to diets!). When I was working with a metabolic nutritionist, I was trying hard to follow my customized diet, and I couldn’t help but ask “Just HOW strictly do I need to follow this for it to work well?” (Essentially, I wanted to know how much I could cheat and get away with it. Willpower is not my strong suit). The answer was roughly 80% of the time I should eat to fit my metabolic type. Out of 21 meals per week, that means I could totally blow it for about 4 meals. That’s not SO bad, eh? The more I learned and the better I felt by changing my diet, the easier it became to say NO to crappy food that made me feel gross.

But of course we all have our weaknesses…and when I go bad, I go big, usually.

It was all just a big mistake

It was all just a big mistake

So, what is someone this obsessed with clean and healthy eating who loves to cook elaborate meals and experiment with baking, doing moving onto a tiny boat with a miniature oven and 3 burner stove, a 4 cubic foot refrigerator with no freezer and virtually no counter space, not to mention leaving behind the healthy hippie food center of the universe in NorCal?!? GalleycleanI asked myself that over and over again as we prepared for this life. To be honest, the thing that scared me the most about moving onto a boat and heading off into the unknown was “what am I going to eat??”

jenneats

Eating my yogurt out on the dock, so I could jump around to avoid the jejenes (noseeums) in San Blas

Many cruisers eat a lot of canned and packaged food. Eating food from a can is practically against my religion. I theorized that we could get fresh local fruits and vegetables, meat and chicken just about anywhere. That’s what most local people eat, right? While I insisted on provisioning a number of dry goods that I knew would be scarce or impossible to find (almond flour, rice flour, cocoa, organic nuts, organic spices, good chocolate etc.), I categorically refused to stock canned goods as a main food source. OK I do have a couple cans of beans, black olives and coconut milk.  The fact that I am the only one on this boat who truly cares about this increased my challenges. I do all the cooking, so that makes it a lot easier. Jonny does all the dishes, which works out great (except for the last 2 weeks, I am stuck doing the dishes because I lost a bet involving Jimmy Buffet’s flip flop…but I digress). I have stuck to the original plan and it’s definitely a continuous challenge, with many pitfalls, but we eat pretty well and I’m not giving up!

us groceries

California Bounty

Before I get into just what it is that we’ve been eating, I want to review the ‘tools’ I have to work with. For a long time before we left, every time I was cooking, I would mentally assess all my kitchen tools and mark them as “definitely coming with me” or “I can let this go”. I had moments of sheer terror, deep in the nights, thinking, “Oh my god, it’s never all going to fit on the boat! We’re going to STARVE!”. Jonny sternly told me that all our food and kitchen stuff had to fit in the 2 cabinets over the galley and the 3 drawers under the chart table. I assured him I would make that happen. Oh, but I also just need about HALF of the top shelf above the starboard settee. And maybe the upper storage locker next to the stove. And maybe the storage locker next to that. And maybe the ENTIRE top shelf instead of just half. Oh and the bottom shelf, too. And one storage locker under the other settee… And that’s all I need! Anyway, what else are we going to put in the main cabin? What’s more important than food, tools and spare parts? I did leave 6 other storage lockers and 2 shelves in the main cabin food-free. Oh, there may be a gallon of coconut oil hidden under the v-berth, though.

Magically all my cookware and eat-ware fit in the drawers and one cabinet. DishesPotsI had to sell my 12” All-Clad stainless pan because it didn’t fit on the stovetop. Thanks to my sister’s brilliant idea – I did take the $75 I got for it and put it towards a 10” All Clad pan that DOES fit. I use it at least once per day. So, I have that, a top of the line pressure cooker, 3 stainless pots of varying sizes (one is a double boiler, so I guess that makes 4 pots), a stainless and silicone collapsible colander, a square Corning ware casserole with a lid – that is probably well over 50 years old and belonged to my grandmother (it has a removable handle so can be used on or in the stove) and a tiny 6” Corning ware fry pan I got at a thrift store. I also have a large stainless lasagna pan that fit in the oven once Jonny bent the handles vertical (it gets stored in the oven along with my silicone and stainless cookie sheets). That’s about it (OK I may have another stainless pan hidden under the v-berth – “just in case”. Don’t tell Jonny). I find that I don’t often miss most of the things I let go. I did have to replace my bread pan(s) with one glass one – not sure what I was thinking getting rid of ALL of them. I also kept my mason jars, and replaced the rust-able lids with plastic ones. They are very handy for storing all my bulk stuff and for making sun teas, storing pistachio milks, making breakfast jars etc.MasonJars Many people eschew anything glass on a boat and I had to fight hard to bring the glassware I have – but my thinking is this: I’d rather take the risk of something breaking and having to clean it up, than to take the risk to my health of storing all my food in stinky, hard to clean, toxic-chemical leaching plastics (yes, there’s enough of those in my fridge, but the rotation is more frequent…). So far I haven’t broken anything (knock on glass!). I also insisted on bringing a few of my favorite plates and bowls – although we do have a set of stainless steel plates which are used outside or in rough conditions (Jonny calls them our “prison plates”). We also have a set of stainless cups, which are wonderful. At the last minute, I also insisted on bringing my big, metal and glass Osterizer beehive blender. I do not regret that one bit and have used it quite a lot –plugged into our 800 watt power inverter.

blender

In my 3 little drawers, I was able to fit an amazing amount of cooking tools and silverware. Tongs are critically important, as are a variety of spatulas and spoons, a ladle, a stainless baster, potato masher, Cuisinart stick blender with mini food processor attachment (I just made some great pesto in that!), strainer, silicone veggie steamer insert, graters, measuring cups and spoons, corkscrew/bottle opener and a few good knives. There’s even room for a few other things which make me feel good to keep but I hardly ever use them (oh, like a can opener 😉 ).

I do have one storage locker for my large stainless mixing bowl and a variety of food storage containers – Snapware and these special ones from Sharper Image (remember that place?) impregnated with silver that keep food fresher longer (they really do work!). I use them all the time to store and organize things in the fridge. I occasionally wish I had just 1 or 2 more, but I manage to get by.

Speaking of my fridge – I have just started to get over my amazement at how much I can fit in there. It’s 4 cubic feet and accessed through 2 large lids on the top. There are no nice, neat shelves and really no way to have it look pretty or organized in there. Everything is just piled in on top of everything else and you have to pull out ten things just to find one. FridgepackedBut I have developed sectors and I’ve put in large storage containers to help keep some things separated and I know where everything is J. We have a Technautics Coolblue refrigeration plate (which ended up being far more expensive than what we thought we were going to get – but so far extremely happy we have this one). It is supposed to only be refrigeration – but I have discovered that if I put things right up against it, they will freeze. This has made a huge difference for me – I can buy meats and chickens and package them in meal size portions and put them in the bottom up against the plate and they will freeze solid. I’ve had up to 9 days worth of protein in there and that makes me VERY happy. The downside is that fruits and veggies need to be kept far away from the cold plate, as many do not do well after being frozen (learned that the hard way in the beginning). Sometimes when the fridge is pretty empty, it’s hard to keep things away from the freezer plate. This is the reason I got an ice cube tray with a watertight lid – it makes an effective shield between the plate and other stuff—and BONUS – it also makes ice cubes! Every two weeks I need to empty the fridge to clean up spills and debris and chip off all the ice and frost from the cold plate. In the heat we live in now, it’s usually a very welcome task.

iceman

MB Entry fish

FISH!!! Doesn’t get any fresher or more local than this.

In the end, I have found that my biggest challenge is finding raw materials. In the desert of Baja, the variety of fruits and veg are very limited and I have come back from many hunting expeditions chickenless. On the other hand, I will occasionally find some things are much cheaper here – for example chia seeds and flax meal are easy to find, as are tropical fruits (pineapple and papaya are staples). When we do manage to locate abundant groceries, carrying them all back to the boat is a whole ‘nother challenge! Jonny will frequently keep us going with fish (and we hear this summer in the Sea of Cortez should provide us with bountiful fish supplies). All in all, I’ve been really proud of some of the meals I’ve been able to create and some of the baked goods I’ve turned out. I do get frustrated with the lack of counter space sometimes when I’ve got all 3 burners going and am trying to plate my latest creations. Storing enough food and cooking volumes to feed more than 2 people is not really any fun (and often impossible) and that does make me a little sad. But given that Summer is usually the smallest boat in any anchorage, we are not often the ‘go-to’ boat for socializing. I definitely feel lacking in my abilities as a hostess (something I’ve always enjoyed – hey, I’m half Jewish and a quarter Italian -I LOVE to feed people!), but I’m slowly adapting and learning to appreciate the gracious hospitality of others.

Typical Baja groceries

I often snap pictures of my creations – one of the oddest new trends in the era of smartphones, for sure (check out this interesting article ) So rather than go on and on about what I like to cook, here’s a few pictures. Happy to share recipes with anyone – just email me!

YogurtProtein

I love finding home-make yogurt. It’s best when I can put strawberries, blueberries, papaya, pineapple, walnuts and hemp seeds in it!

TDayFeast

Even Thanksgiving dinner can happen on a passage

soup

Mixing leftover chicken soup with leftover pea soup…wasn’t as bad as you might think!

MB JC Fried Shrimp wine

Christmas shrimp!

Pancakes

pancakes and home-made chicken sausage patties

pastasalchicca

On the fly/throw it together with pasta and some chorizo that wasn’t so good. This meal actually looks FAR better than it was. Can’t win ’em all.

muffins

Delicious and moist almond meal chocolate chip muffins

Slidycookies

When the boat is rocking wildly back and forth, it is NOT the time to make chewy chocolate chip cookies

lasagne

Lasagna is always a good thing to make before a passage – 3 easy meals hot or cold!

Deviled eggs

My first attempt at deviled eggs. I had a craving. And I threw an avocado in there. Those are jicama sticks around the outside.

ChocoAlmond bread

Chocolate almond meal bread is one of my favorites for breakfast. Not too sweet (although I found an extra tablespoon of honey and sprinkling chips on top makes the recipe just perfect)

BreakfastJars

Breakfast jars are great to make ahead of time for overnight passages. That’s oat groats on the bottom and I cover it all with pistachio milk.

Beansbase

This is a base for my black beans – which are pressure cooker cooked first and added here

chicktacos

Chicken tacos are always easy

Fajitas

Fajitas, sans grill

Shrimpstirfry

Shrimp stir fry. It can’t be Mexican food all the time!

 

photo 1

Eggplant Parmesan

photo 2

Homemade chicken sausage has evolved to one giant patty (keeps my hands cleaner, thereby saving water!)

photo 3

Grandma’s spaghetti sauce in the making

photo 4

Pesto in the making

 

TB Best Brownies

Best batch of brownies to date

Here are some of my favorite food related websites:

Just Eat Real Food

Food Renegade

Mommypotamus

The Food Babe

Smitten Kitchen

Nuts.com

Vitacost