January 2010: Espiritu Santo and other stuff

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The Christmas and New Years Holidays are over, the new bow rollers are installed, so it's time to get going. I want to do a shakedown with the new bow rollers before heading farther south.

Despite all the warnings I received about my headsail, the 90 working jib is still doing a great job at moving the boat forward. Heading north from La Paz, towards the Espiritu Santo islands, we were making a healthy 5.5 to 7 knots beating into a 10 to 15 knot breeze with a two foot swell and no chop. My boat was built to sail, and goes to weather nicely. There are definitely times when I value the design trade offs.


Since I've never sailed the islands north of La Paz before, I'm initially sticking to well known anchorages. That means there are other boats around, but the spots are well documented and it gives me a chance to check out the surrounding area in the dinghy, to find more secluded but safe spots.

Caleta Partida was the first stop. It's the cut between Espiritu Santos island and Isla Partida. These islands are volcanic, which makes for some interesting geologic formations as they consist of a lot of basaltic layers. The Caleta Partida anchorage is an eroded caldera.

My fishing luck seems to have ended when Cory left the boat after the Haha, and I haven't caught a Dorado or any deep water fish
since the Haha. We finally took the dinghy over to the little fishing camp (left) and bought some fresh Pargo (part of the Snapper family) from the guys there.

On our last morning, I discovered a huge school of Spotted Sand Bass right under the boat. Maybe they were always there, and I finally figured out how to catch them. Who knows? After losing three lures, we had three of them. We should have had more, but I tossed two back, thinking they were too small. Then I looked in the book, and discovered that the world record is two pounds. Oh.
These were only about a pound, so it took
two of them to make a meal.
They taste great. I mean, really great.




Then it's on to Isla San Francisco, another popular anchorage on a little tiny island south of Isla San Jose.

There's a huge, long, beach there. We found a hermit crab, and carried him around in a scallop shell for while until he decided to make a break for it.





Obligatory sunset picture.



The weather reported one of the winter Sea of Cortez 'northers' on the way, with 30 knot breezes. That would be a mild one, but we headed up to San Evaristo where there was a really protected anchorage, big enough for a lot of boats.

There's also a small cove, protected on three sides, big enough for two or three boats. To the left is my radar display. Some folks had told me it was the best spot. I disagree. It might be a great spot in nice weather, but when the wind began to funnel down the Canal de San Jose, it hopped over a small saddle on the north side of this anchorage and bounced around the place like ping-pong balls. I'd much rather have a half mile of sand around me and a steady breeze from one direction.

I'd also heard that we were going to get a few hours of southerly breeze just before the norther hit. As you can see from the radar picture, this anchorage is open to the south. So I short scoped to make sure I wouldn't hit the rocks. That worked, but I still sat up from 3 to 6 a.m. as a 15 knot breeze kept the anchor rode stretched tight and Stella Blue sat 60 feet off a lee shore and a rock cliff. The oversized 55 pound Rocna anchor, once again, kept me secure. Nonetheless, I got the boat ready to move.



The next morning the breezes came up. It was still no big deal, except for this one boat. He pulled up the night before, dropped his anchor 40 feet off my starboard bow (between me and the rocks,) dumped a bunch of chain on top of his anchor, backed down on it, and went to bed.
No anchor light, but when the southerly breeze kicked in I picked him out with my spotlight, about 15 feet off the rocks. It was over before he woke up, and he never had a clue.

In the morning, he let out a bunch of additional scope in preparation for the northerly breezes. Here's a picture of him letting out more chain.
He let out just enough to put him three boat lengths behind me, with his anchor chain directly under my keel. Great. So if I drag anchor, I hit him, and if I let out more scope, I swing into him. He then went below again, and only popped his head out when we got gusts approaching 40 knots, and then only looked aft.

I was concerned, since I only had 3:1 scope out. It had been holding, but I didn't want to have to stay up all night. Finally, about two hours before sunset, I blew my horn, and told him to turn his radio and asked what his game plan was if I dragged anchor or had to let out more scope. Apparently the thought had never occurred to him, as he spent the next 30 minutes watching my boat. Then he decided to move to another spot.

Whew. Now I could get some sleep.


I don't know why, but I think this picture is funny.

The boat is sailed by a retired Army General,
who clearly has nothing to prove.



While in San Evaristo, the pull cord for the outboard snapped, and the remaining cord wrapped itself around the engine and did a great job of straightening out the spring in the starter.

So, rebuilding that gave me something to do for a couple of days. I probably took this apart and put it together about 50 times. I think it might be okay for a while, but I'm annoyed, and will probably need to buy a whole new starter unit.

I'm going to use good Dacron rope for the pull cord, and add it to the annual maintenance/replacement list.



After nearly two weeks, it's time to head back to La Paz for some repairs and provisioning, and then get ready to head south to Puerta Vallarta.

The fishing luck returned on the way back to the Ensenada Grande anchorage, and we caught two Bonito Tuna. They really aren't that great to eat, but what the heck. It's protein.

They're really aggressive.



After spending three days in that small cove in San Evaristo, we were tired of close anchorages. Here's the radar picture of Ensenada Grande. We dropped the hook smack in the middle, in 30 feet of water, set up with 180 feet of chain, and slept well knowing that the nearest rock was 600 feet away.





Oh, wow....

On the way back, we ran into two juvenile whales playing in the sun.

We spent about an hour getting closer and closer, very slowly, and eventually were pacing them for over an hour as they broached and played only 60 feet off the port side. I was careful not to get too close, and am thankful that we had an entire hour to slowly work our way near.

I took about 200 pictures of whales in the air, but at the moment this one looks best. (I've only spent three minutes looking through them.)

Click on the picture to get the original, and edit it to fit your computer screen format for a screen saver. Too cool. BTW, it's 3MB, but it's a cool picture.



By the way, you might have noticed that I've been saying 'we' on this page. I had new crew during the past few weeks.
Perhaps an Admiral pro tempore or something similar.

Much nicer than my previous crew experiences.
No testosterone issues.

I think this was a sunrise picture, or something.
Normally we're not wearing layers of fleece.



Anyway, here's a picture of the new moon.

It's like a Cheshire cat smile.

For some reason, I played The Beatles White Album during dinner. The last song on the album is "Good Night," so here are the lyrics:

Now it's time to say good night
Good night, sleep tight
Now the sun turns out his light
Good night, sleep tight
Dream sweet dreams for me
Dream sweet dreams for you

Close your eyes and I'll close mine
Good night, sleep tight
Now the moon begins to shine
Good night, sleep tight
Dream sweet dreams for me
Dream sweet dreams for you

Close your eyes and I'll close mine
Good night, sleep tight
Now the sun turns out his light
Good night, sleep tight
Dream sweet dreams for me
Dream sweet dreams for you

Good night, good night everybody
Everybody everywhere
Good night


Hey, see you next month.

Click on pictures to see them full size