June 2010: Running for 27N - Muertos (to La Paz again) to Santa Rosalia
June 6 to June 16, 2010, was some of the best sailing that I've ever enjoyed. A weak low pressure system to the north, along with some other factors, have provided consistent ESE breezes in the 8-15 knot range, with a 1 foot swell. There's nothing like having the wind at your back.
But before the good stuff, there was a bit of ugly. Oh well.
Let's see... the last blog entry left me at Muertos, after crossing the Sea of Cortez. After spending well over a week waiting to leave Mazatlan, and then a slow crossing, all of my perishable food had perished. I decided to pull into La Paz for one day to buy more.
I like to anchor near to La Paz, then make the sail into town in a few hours, to arrive mid day. The first time I stayed at Ballandra Cove. An evening 'Corumel' kicked up, bringing winds of 20 knots, and the swell wrapping around the point made it a miserable anchorage. This time I headed north to Puerto Ballena, which is a bit more protected. Good idea. Yet again, a Corumel kicked up, and I was setting the anchor in 20 knots.
I've become even more careful about anchoring, if that's possible. The rule on Stella Blue is simple: Always anchor as if a 30 knot breeze is going to kick up at 2 a.m., from the worst possible direction. On more than one occasion that has proven to be a wise philosophy.
So, yeah, once again I sat up, watching the radar and GPS, to make sure that I didn't start dragging onto a rocky lee shore. And once again I was thankful for that oversized Rocna anchor.
It took three tries to set the anchor in a spot I was comfortable with, and the windlass started to make a wierd noise. Thank goodness I also installed a windlass that is two times oversized for the boat, because that exercise would probably count as abuse. I need to be careful about overheating the motor.
After arriving in La Paz, I disassembled it (using that six inch gear puller that I just brought back from the states) and greased it up. It seems to be fine, but that was a lesson learned.
One day for errands in La Paz, then time to head north.
The next port is Santa Rosalia, north of the 27th parallel.
That's out of the hurricane belt, or at least on the very edge of it.
The ESE breezes kicked in.
Only a 1 foot swell, from the SE, with 8 to 12 knots at my back.
The boat's flat on her feet, and moving along between 4 and 6 knots.
Because the breeze was ESE, I needed to chose anchorages that were protected from from that direction. You can often count on the breeze to pick up in the afternoons, and it's nice to have a calm anchorage without a lot of rocking and bouncing.
Here's Punta Prieta. I stayed on the north side.
It was pretty comfortable, with the rocks keeping the swell down to a very manageable level.
I woke up to the heavy breathing of sounding dolphins.
That's always nice.
A pod of them swung through the bay, looking for breakfast.
And when they left, I found two big lobsters flopping around on deck.
Nice dolphins. They sure are friendly.
I put the bugs in my 'goody bag,' clipped it to a line and hung it over the side for later.
Then yet another perfect sailing day, with 10 knots out of the east.
With a flat sea, 10 knots makes for a nice easy beam reach.
Bahia Agua Verde is a well known, comfortable bay, and well protected from the South.
I didn't go ashore, though, as I'm on a mission to get to Santa Rosalia, and I'm about a month late.
I finally pulled into Puerto Escondido, to spend a day. There's fuel here.
Based on engine hours, I figured I'd used about 40 liters of fuel. That's
not much, but one might as well top off the tank when one can.
The actual usage was 43 liters. It's always satisfying to call it that close.
There's also internet access, and I wanted to get good weather information for the next week. The radio works, but it's nice to look at the satellite pictures and check out a few different weather sites.
Puerto Escondido is a good protected anchorage, but there's nothing there besides a tiny marina, fuel dock, and basic Marina Fonatur (Singlar) facilities.
I did a load of laundry, just for the heck of it.
Here's a nice sunset shot from my mooring in Puerto Escondido. If you click on the picture you'll get a very high resolution image. It'll work as a Windows wallpaper, because the dark edges don't interfere with any icons you put around the edge.
I'm passing up some really cool anchorages to get to Santa Rosalia by the end of the month, and am really starting to regret the time lost in Mazatlan. I'm picking anchorages based on distance and protection from the ESE swell, not because of the scenery or nice beaches.
This is the south end of Caleta San Juanico, where I tucked in behind the point to stay out of the ESE swell.
It was still a bit rocky, as there was some swell coming straight from the east. I stayed a day, anyway.
This is where I was swarmed by bees.
I finally understand why people start to rave about the incredible geology in Baja, and the Sea of Cortez. I'd heard a few people mention it, and thought "yeah yeah yeah."
It has taken some time to grow on me. I guess, if all you see is ocean and rock formations, you begin to see new levels of detail in both.
I'm glad I took that Geology class in school.
This is a very common sight around here as well. It's a mobula ray (I think) doing a belly flop. This one has leapt about six feet in the air, and is flapping his wings like a bird. Suddenly he falls and makes a very loud belly flop. Other times they'll do a flip and land on thier backs.
My guess is that they're trying to shake off parasites. But maybe they're just having fun.
Anyway, I finally made it to Punta Concepcion, and spent a day just relaxing in the huge Bahia Santa Domingo anchorage. This is a picture of Punta Hornitos.
It's really not that great of an anchorage, but it's huge and flat, and well protected from the East and South. Given the breezes the last two weeks, that works for me.
Besides, Hornitos is my favorite tequila, so Punta Hornitos deserves a salute.
It's not that great a picture, either, but this blog will jog my memory when I make plans to pass that way again.
Next stop, Santa Rosalia.
It was time to get rid of all the perishable food that had perished.
I'm heading for a port, and Santa Rosalia is the last
provisioning stop for a while.
The seagulls came over to investigate. I had a lot of fun trying to hit seagulls with tortilla frisbees. (The tortillas were getting a bit slimey.)
There actually is a seagull in this picture, but he's just a small white dot under the tortilla. The seagull I actually was trying to hit didn't cooperate and flew in the wrong direction.
Hey it's not easy to throw a tortilla frisbee
and take a picture at the same time.
Here's a pic of Santa Rosalia from the breakwater.
I like this town. I can spend all day in town and not see another Gringo.
There are no tourist facilities, but there are hotels. I would recommend this town to a seasoned traveller, but not to someone who expects an "American Experience in Mexico."
I hope that doesn't change. Heck, I remember Cabo San Lucas in 1982.
Someone recently told me a small cruise ship anchored off Loreto this year. Say it ain't so. Please.
Santa Rosalia exists because of the copper mines. If you click on the pic you'll see a bunch of holes in the hill above the town. There are hundreds of miles of mining tunnels. It's a great place to turn your children loose, and I recommend it to any parent who's having second thoughts.
They started mining copper here in the 1860's and finally shut down operations in the 1980's. For much of that period, a French company held an exclusive lease on the operations. They shipped ore out, and filled the boats with lumber for the return trip. So this town has a lot of wood buildings, which is a welcome change from the concrete block construction I've come to know and love throughout Mexico.
Enough of that. If you want to know more, Google it.
Naturally, I have things to fix while in port.
It's a boat.
The Spectra Watermaker stage 1 pump stopped working, and while that particular system has become one of the most essential systems on the boat, I wasn't too stressed about it. Electric pumps like this don't work perfectly one day and then suddenly quit. They give warning signs, such as new and unusual noises and reduced performance. This particular pump isn't made by Spectra. They use a Jabsco or a Sureflo or a FloJet. I forget which at the moment, but it's one hell of a pump. They put a beautiful anodized aluminum heat sink around it, and top it off with a computer fan. (Those parts aren't shown in the picture to left.)
Anyway, when a reliable piece of electrical gear works perfectly one day and then suddenly doesn't work at all, it's a really safe bet that there's a loose wire. So I worked my way down from the breaker panel, just giving wires a shake, and that's all it was.
Unfortunately the wire I wiggled to make it work again was right next to the pump, going through a sealed gasket. There's no connection for me to tighten.
Holy Cold Solder Joint, Batman, what do we do now?
Well, I guess I should put a spare pump on my shopping list, just in case.
I don't want to cut that wire to find out if it's good wire, nor am I willing to disassemble the motor case and pull out the soldering iron without a replacement motor at hand.
Funny, I picked up a new diaphragm head and pressure sensor after spending some time making water in silty conditions. But I never thought I'd have to worry about the actual electric motor.
It's amazing the number of things that work loose when you're cruising full time. Shucks, a few dozen headliner screws have worked 1/8" out, and I'm constantly finding screws that need to be tightened. Bolts with nylock nuts are doing just fine, and I really appreciate that.
It's really hot.
Heck, I left my West Marine flip flops on deck, and they melted.
Now, there's been no breeze for a week and I'm behind a ten foot sea wall, and one must take that into consideration.
They tell me it doesn't *really* get hot for another two months.
Just for grins, I put an egg in a frying pan and set in on deck.
It's hot, folks.
I'm drinking well over a gallon of water a day and less than a pint makes
it through my kidneys. I'm sure it will all work out in the end.
(Sorry... old joke.)
Hey. I'm not waiting on a breeze. I'm just waiting on a friend.