October 2010: Time to head south

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Okay. The last blog update was in six weeks ago.

I started to create a page called "A Day in The Life," that would log my activity for an entire week, just so that folks would see what it really means to be cruising in a small sailboat and living at anchor.

It's very easy to spend the entire day doing 'nothing.' Shucks, getting milk and eggs can take the entire morning. Scrubbing the barnacles off of the bottom can take the whole day. (The actual cleaning only takes a few hours, but first you have to get ready, and then you have to clean up.)

Anyway, before leaving the Bahia de Los Angeles area, I spent a great deal of time anchored in Las Rocas. It's just a little spot about nine miles away from the village. There are other great spots as well, and some that I never got around to visiting. Maybe next year.

On my way to Las Rocas, there was a nice breeze. It was good to sail. Breezes had been very light, and it had been a month since I'd done anything but motor around. Man, it felt good to raise the sails.

I caught my limit of Sierras. These aren't my favorite fish, although some folks really like them. They're part of the mackerel family, and like most mackerels have an oily, fishy flavor. When I was younger, we caught mackerels for bait, but now that the oceans are trashed and fish are harder to find, mackerel is served in sushi bars. Go figure.

I remember growing up watching black and white 16mm films produced by the U.S. Department of Bureaucracy. (More on that later.)

I remember one film extolling the virtues of factory fishing.
I was probably eating a canned tuna fish sandwitch while I watched the film, but I was too young to remember all the details.
The quote I remember, at the film's finale:
"Someday, All The People Of The World Will Be Fed
From The Unlimited Bounty Of The Sea!"

Sorry, Charlie.
I guess the world is a lot smaller than it was back in the 1960's.


Don't get me wrong. Bureaucracies have some value. Down here, as in many other countries without regulations and enforcement tools, one can walk into a grocery store and find chicken sitting on the floor in 100 degree heat all day, waiting to be sold. I've seen beef butchered, and hamburger being made, on the same table used to eviscerate chickens, in a room hasn't seen temperatures lower than 90 degrees for weeks. I've eaten it. I've been very sick sometimes. Many folks up north take safe food for granted, but complain about the taxes paid to ensure that food processing is monitored and controlled.


Okay, anyway. Back to Stella Blue in BLA.

To the left is a Google Earth pic of the Las Rocas anchorage,
where I sat until I got bored.

I moved a couple of times trying to find the perfect spot. I really like the area where I put a red dot. It's well protected from most directions. You can actually anchor a bit north of that and be safer from westerly breezes without going aground, and most of the cove south of it is very good holding but bumpy if things kick up from the west. I spent a couple of days around the purple spot, but one night the breeze really kicked up and I didn't feel comfortable because of all the rocks.

The satellite pic doesn't show all the rocks.

Here's a look North, from the red dot spot.

The place is called "Las Rocas" because there are lots of rocks between the two islands. You only take a boat through the thin part if
you're stupid, are well insured, and have picked the super bowl winner for at least the last five years running.

But it makes for good fishing.

All those rocks harbor millions of little bait fish. The tidal currents are significant between the two islands. I snorkelled through there, and saw thousands of little lost bait fish get swept through the channel.

They had nowhere to go except under my boat.

Yup, there's an entire ecosystem based on the tidal currents through that rocky spot.


If I didn't catch a fish within 30 seconds, I knew the bait was gone.

I was using hunks of Sierra for bait.

These are Spotted Sand Bass again. Actually, I these are Amber Bellied Sand Bass. Whatever.







I never caught a sting ray before. I guess I was a little too close to the bottom. I let him go. There isn't much meat there, although skates and rays are very tasty when they get bigger.

Also caught my limit of puffer fish, and let them go.


Finally, a good sized grouper took the hook, and it was time to start dinner.

All this right off the side of the boat, at anchor.







Obligatory sunset shot.





Well, it's time to start heading south again. Actually, I'm heading out early, since this hurricane season was very benign and the risks are minimal.

I had the dodger windows out all summer, to allow any breeze free access to the cockpit. But, it's time to put them back in. I'd rather have the breezes, but with 350 miles to go to La Paz, one never knows if the breeze will kick up from the wrong direction and get everything wet.

The darn zipper broke. Arr. I hand sewed the window in, and will have to install a new zipper the next time the sewing machine is out. Not right now, though.


About 30 miles out, this little finch came on board. I guess it was tired.

It's a long way from land, and this was the only spot to land.

It hung out for hours, and explored the entire boat, inside and out. I was a little worried when it went into the main cabin, as I didn't want it to crawl into a tight spot and die there. That would stink.

Fortunately, after checking everything out, the bird came back to the cockpit and waiting for land fall. About two miles away from Bahia San Fransisquito it flew off towards land.





The breeze kicked up as I set the anchor, and the windlass clutch slipped. I didn't think it through, and accidentally broke both thumbs and a finger. I had to grab the rope road, at the end of 250 feet of chain, and cleat it off before the entire ground tackle fell off the boat.


Sometimes single handing can be a real pain.
Fingers heal fast, though.




The 80 mile haul from San Fransisquito was 16 hours long, but uneventful.

I caught a good breeze, and sailed a broad reach for the last half.

As soon as the sails were up, and I had my hands full single handing, the fish started to bite.

This Dorado was pretty darn big. It was too big to clean on deck, and I had to empty out the cockpit and filet it on the bench.

I don't want to catch any more fish that big.

Naturally, I caught another one, and had enough Dorado to feed 12 people.

Click on pictures to see them full size




















Note: Picture quality is whatever it is.
My camera LCD display broke, and this model doesn't have a traditional viewfinder.
It takes pictures, but I have no control over composition. There's only so much you can do with the computer.
I buy cheap cameras because they don't last long on boats.
I could get a really good one that is salt water proof, but it would cost bucks.
Digital cameras are consumer electronics; within 6 months you can get one twice as good for half the price.

Anyway, that's it. I'm back in a marina, scrubbing the boat inside and out. It's been months since Stella Blue has had a good fresh water scrub. The inside needs some attention as well, and hasn't had a good cleaning in a year.
It's time to empty out all the cupboards and compartments, polish up the pots and pans, clean the stove and oven,
and get ready for the winter cruising season.

Insurance won't cover me south of here until November 1, so I'll stay a while.
Still, I want to be in La Paz on November 1, so there'll be a couple of weeks where I'll be uninsured.
Storm season is a non-event, though, and risk is minimal.

I also caught a bus to La Paz, for a whirlwind 28 hour trip to start the FM3 process. The FM3 is a 'permanent' visa,
so I can stay in Mexico without having to leave every six months. That'll be nice.

'Till next time.