That flag is only nine months old. The further south you go, the more destructive the UV gets. The sun beats the heck out of everything.
I actually spent four days in Banderas Bay looking for replacement flags, and finally had to spend 600 pesos ($50 US) for a really poorly made one. I know I could have bought one for 70 percent less in La Paz.
And *no one* had Mexican courtesy flags. So I sailed North flying a tattered red and green scrap.
Shucks. I've only been here three years, and that's my fourth US ensign, and I'm on my sixth courtesy flag. The sun really is brutal.
I don't really remember too much about May.
This year, I swore that I would wait until the southerlies started. The last two years, I've moved north with the snowbirds. That is a *real* drag, with the breeze predominantly from the north, or else dead calm. This year there was no plane to catch, no visitor visa to worry about, and no agenda other than my own.
I waited for the right wind.
Waiting can be a drag. <G>
Apparently, in May and June, as the winds begin to shift, the La Cruz anchorage
gets consistently sloppy. Every afternoon.
I am no stranger to slop, but it really did get old.
Once upon a time, there was a really nice protected anchorage in La Cruz. Then, someone gave someone some money, and the protected anchorage became a marina. Now, there isn't an anchorage. It's really just an open roadstead. Of course, an open roadstead anchorage in Banderas Bay is not like an open roadstead anchorage on the coast, so it's manageable. Still, it was pretty bouncy every afternoon.
There is actually a lot of really good sailing on Banderas Bay.
While waiting for the right wind, La Cruz hosted a big Laser and dinghy race, with teams of kids from all over Mexico competing.
It was fun to watch, as they raced right outside the anchorage, and the afternoon breezes kicked up to 15-20 knots one day. The Lasers handled it, but the little dinghys were beat up pretty bad. The kids were good sailors, though, and had their priorities straight. To the left, one kid is letting the main flog and bailing like heck, while still making a heroic effort to avoid hitting me. There were lots of support boats, and no one was ever in danger.
Still waiting for the southerlies, and getting ready to head north.
Naturally, the bait fish collected under my boat, and the pelicans learned to sit on the rail and do a short dive for an easy meal.
This is actually not cool. Pelican crap stinks, and dries like concrete.
Be careful what you wish for.
The risk in waiting for the southerlies is that they don't start up until hurricane season. It's a small risk, though, since the cyclones normally don't start curling north until later in the season. Early season storms start down south and head straight west.
This year, the first named storm started on May 15, the first day of the hurricane season.
Then came 'Bud', which started to move north. Great. Storm track projections can change hourly, and for a while Bud was aimed straight at Banderas Bay.
It wasn't predicted to be a big one, but even a 40 to 50 knots is a heck of a lot of breeze. I've been anchored in an open roadstead during a 50 knot breeze, and don't want to do it again.
With the La Cruz anchorage open to the south west, I decided to be prudent and pull into the marina, behind a big breakwater.
It was the first time I'd touched a dock in over six months, and the boat was *really* dirty. It was good to clean up. My first standing hot shower in six months was really, really nice.
I pulled the jib down and got ready for a blow. Really, that wasn't necessary, as the storm wasn't predicted to be that big, and was probably going to miss Banderas Bay entirely. But what the heck. When it blows like stink, the roller furled jib really wobbles around and puts stress on the rig, so I decided to be prudent.
When Bud hit the coast, about 50 miles south of the bay, it had weakened considerably. There's a mountain range just south of the bay, and when the storm hit the mountains it broke up within hours.
Still, better safe than sorry.
Wow, my anchor is covered in barnacles. Well, it's been on the bottom for six months.
Finally, on June 1, the weather window arrived, with 10 to 15 knots predicted from the South West.
After a brief 3 hour bash directly into the breeze, I turned the corner at Punta Mita and headed north west, with the breeze on the beam.
I was making between 7 and 8 knots all day, with a long three foot swell behind me.
The breeze was forecast to curl around as I made it north, which meant I'd have to sail mainly north for a while, and circle over to approach Baja from the east.
That course put me only 15 miles from Isla Isabella. I hadn't hoped to make it that far in one day, but the boat was at hull speed all day and I could see the island before dusk.
Because of the northerly track, I really wasn't far enough off shore to feel comfortable sleeping while under way. There are still boats, long line fishing traps, and other dangers this close to the mainland.
I decided to anchor in the lee of Isla Isabella and catch some sleep, then take off at dawn. Isla Isabella isn't really a nice anchorage, but there's a big sandy spot in the lee, with good holding. I was the only boat around, so it was easy to anchor in the middle of it and get some sleep.
June 2, I was off at dawn with a very nice 10 knot breeze on the beam.
I made a nice comfortable 5 knots, and the boat was flat on her feet. That made for an easy day, with lots of time to cook good food, take a nap, and get ready to sail all night.
This 'LUX' timer, to the left, is my favorite timer for single handed cat naps. I have two, and always keep an eye out for more. I like it because the alarm doesn't stop. Then it goes off, it has a nice gentle beep, then after 5 seconds goes into a more aggressive beep, and after another 5 seconds just goes 'beep beep beep beep beep' without stopping until you turn it off.
The next day the breeze picked up, and I saw 15 to 20 from the south.
I made about 6 to 7 knots all day, going slower because a sloppy square 4 to 5 foot swell kicked up out of the south. The swell was right on the beam, with a smaller chop on the port bow, and that slowed me down. I considered heading north and sailing another day, finding an anchorage further up the Baja peninsula, but decided to bear with the slop until I hit the lee of the tip of Baja, where the swell would be lighter.
My target landfall was good old Muertos, which is a huge big sandy anchorage.
I can land there at night in the fog when sleep deprived, and not worry about
I pulled in about an hour before dawn on the 4th.
I must have been tired, because I slept for 24 hours solid.
The breeze shifted around to the north, so I stayed in Muertos for three days until a southerly started up.
Then it was up around the corner to Balandra. I hadn't stayed in Balandra for three years, because in 2009 I caught a really nasty 35 knot breeze in that cove and had a really rough night. It left a bad taste in my mouth. However, I figured that after three years maybe it was worth another shot.
Well, I don't know, but the breezes kicked up from the west again and I had a sloppy time of it, yet again. For some reason, I've never had a comfortable night in Balandra.
I had food and provisions for another week or two, and had thought to spend more time on the hook. I got lazy, though, and took a slip at Marina Palmira in La Paz.
The plan for this summer is to become a Marina Rat and stay at the dock for a few months, using the summer time rates to get some work done.
It's been four years since I moved aboard, and three years of non stop liveaboard cruising. Stella Blue is looking pretty tired, inside and out. Spending the entire winter on the hook, without a fresh water rinse, really took a toll on the boat.
I need to take everything out of every compartment, clean and reorganize. There is a lot of stuff that I now know that I don't need. If I haven't used it in three years of cruising, I probably don't need it on board. It would be nice to pull about 1000 pounds of stuff off the boat.
To the left is half the contents of the V Berth, which I call 'the garage.'
I already filled a dock bock with stuff for the next swap meet. I don't need two spare alternators. I don't need life vests for children. I don't need those 30 year old Barient winch handles that weigh 5 pounds each.
It's time to get this boat shiny again, so I'll stay at the dock through the storm season and clean things up.
Maybe it will rain.