Summer 2011 - La Paz to Santa Rosalia redux

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Without an insurance company telling me where and when to sail, I can take my time getting out of the hurricane belt.

I really like the Google Earth plug in for my Fugawi navigation software.


Hmm. I sailed past a couple of these white bales, floating out in the middle of nowhere, attached to a rope and floating buoy. I don't want to know what it is. A good rule of thumb is to look the other way and move away as fast as possible.



There's no rush to get north, so I'm cove hopping and just hanging out.

I'm catching a lot of trigger fish. They're tasty, but really tough to kill. The whole front half of the fish is bone. I think it's because they primarily eat crustaceans and little crunchy things that hide in the rocks. I guess they spend a lot of time bashing their heads against rocks, so have evolved very hard heads.

Anyway, I always feel like I've committed murder when I kill one for dinner.


May 24 --

After a few days at Isla San Francisco, then San Evaristo, I ended up hanging in Nopolo for a few days.

Then up to Timbabiche, and around the corner to Agua Verde, where I hung out for a while.

June 1 -- I headed for Yellowstone Beach at the north end of Isla Monserrate, mainly because the beach is two miles long and I needed to take a long walk and get some exercise. Unfortunately, the bees discovered the boat and I was swarmed, so I beat a hasty retreat to Punta Candeleros, and then up to Puerto Escondido.

I spent a week in Puerto Escondido, exploring the possibility of hauling the boat and having the bottom stripped down to the gel coat. I think I'm going to do that this summer, instead of heading north to Bahia de Los Angeles.

June 13 --

Gee. Time flies when you're doing nothing.

I headed for Isla Coronado. Most folks stay on the West side, because it's a big huge anchorage.

We had breezes forecast from the North, so I tried the East side of the island. It's wide open to the south, but offers protection from North breezes.

Most folks don't go there, and I had the whole place to myself.

It was great. There's a really deep trench just off shore, and the place was loaded with fish. Water visibility was about 50 feet, which makes for great snorkeling and diving.

I was catching fish right off the boat, finally. Then, trolling around in the dinghy, I hooked a wahoo. Yahoo. It finally jumped off the hook, but that was a fun fight.




Then the breezes shifted around and the East side was exposed to a four foot swell. It's *not* a good place to be when the breezes are from the South.




The West side is perfect for that, though, so I hung out there for a week.

Note that I figured out how to export all the waypoints from my chart plotter into Google Earth. You can see that these Mexican charts are about a mile off, so having Google Earth on the split screen is very helpful.


It's baby sea gull season.

Here's an adult sea gull, guarding a couple of little fuzzy guys who are hiding under the rock.

I didn't realize that I was anchored next to a sea gull rookery until I took a walk, and was attacked by the adults. They were dive bombing my head and screaming gull curses.




Right about this time my Kindle quit working. That's a huge bummer, as I had lined up enough reading for the entire summer.

Amazon will send me a new one overnight, but I still haven't figured out how to get it here in Mexico. Heck, a bus trip to San Diego costs more than the Kindle.


The next hop was to Mercenarios, since it was protected from southern swells, then to the cruiser favorite San Juanico.

The swell shifted around, and came straight from the East. That was a bummer, since I wanted to hang out in San Juanico (left) for a week or so. It's a beautiful spot, and the snorkeling and fishing are supposed to be great.



Unfortunately, it's wide open to the east, and the swell made the anchorage too rocky for comfort, so I anchored around the corner at La Ramada. It was comfortable, and at least I could walk over the hill and see San Juanico.



Here's a pic of La Ramada from the top of the hill.



A few days later Stella Blue entered El Burro cove, where Geary, the weather guy on the Sonrisa Net lives. I was just going to hang out for a few days and then keep going North, but ended up staying two weeks. Geary was cool, and gave me a lift into Mulege to provision up on consumables like vegetables, chicken, milk and tequila. He does that for a lot of visiting cruisers.



By the way, here's a plug for these Caframo 12V fans.

I had three 12V fans on board, which worked well last summer. The blades, though, were rigid plastic, and one by one they broke. It's my own fault for dropping them.

I picked up a couple of these Caframo fans. They're expensive, but the blades are soft plastic, and don't break. The move an incredible amount of air.

Moving air is important in the summer heat.

I also figured out something else about anchoring in the Sea of Cortez in the summer. I'm trying to put the tallest hill or rock due West of my boat. Heck, if the sun drops behind a hill an hour earlier, the evenings are much nicer.

Yep, it's getting hot.

115F inside the boat hot.


Santa Rosalia is only a few days away now.

My fishing karma has returned.

I really love Dorado. I hooked a huge one, that stripped the leader bare. Bummer. Then I caught two more, but only kept one. That's enough fish for two days.


The anchorage closest to Santa Rosalia is Sweet Pea.

After eavesdropping to conversations on the VHF, it was clear that Santa Rosalia was packed with boats. There are a *lot* of boats up here this year, and the herd moves from Geary's party to Santa Rosalia.

I decided to hang out in Sweet Pea until the herd moves on. It wasn't more than a week, and then folks start heading to Bahia de Los Angeles for the rest of the summer.


I've started to call Sweet Pea by a new name: "Sweet Bee." This is the fifth time I've anchored here, and I get swarmed every time.

This electric bug zapper, shaped like a badmitten racket, is really great.
I put the screens up, and then killed about 200 bees in about 15 minutes.

It's still a drag to have to hide inside the boat, with the fans on, but it's better than being covered with bees.

The calamari fleet is hanging out right here, fishing for Humbolt squid. I have a squid jig, but left them alone, as I have enough Dorado to eat and don't want to make a big squid mess in the cockpit.


July 11 -

The marinas in Santa Rosalia were still full, mainly with empty boats. A lot of folks pulled in here after Geary's party and then headed up to the U.S. for a break.

After three days, though, a spot opened up so I pulled in. After two months on the hook the boat really needs a good cleaning.

The plan is to hang here for a month, pull out the sewing machine, and do some projects in the nice air conditioned cruiser's lounge. I have about five sunbrella projects to do. The most important one is to restitch the dodger, as the threads are rotting out. The fabric is fine, and it'll be good for another five or six years if I restitch it before it falls apart.

Ah, yes. My air conditioner. I picked it up at a swap meet last fall, and have been hauling it around for seven months, just for Santa Rosalia. It has changed the whole experience.

Santa Rosalia has a 15 foot tall breakwater that blocks the breeze, and this place gets really hot. Last year I spent half the day laying down, drenched in sweat, under three fans. This air conditioner keeps the temperature inside the boat at a cool 90 degrees, but most importantly it dehumidifies everything. What a treat. The interior is getting a really good cleaning.

Click on pictures to see them full size





So what's next? I'll be doing boat projects here for the next month.

I'm not heading to BLA this summer, for a number of reasons:

1) My batteries are in worse shape than I thought. I'd hoped to squeak out a last summer and replace them in the fall, but they're only holding about 50 percent of rated capacity. I'm running the little Honda a lot, to keep them up. That would be a *real* pain in the arse in BLA, where gasoline requires a 2 mile hike carrying jerry cans in 100 degree heat.

2) There are a *lot* of boats heading up there this year, far more than will fit in the local hurricane holes. So if we have a serious hurricane drill my only option is to head north at top speed and try to out run it.

3) I need a vacation. <Grin> My attitude is really lousy right now. I seem to be just hanging out, waiting for October, to get back to the mainland. I prefer palm trees over cactus, and am already tired of being hot and sweaty.
So, after Santa Rosalia, I'm going to head down to Puerto Escondido, haul the boat out of the water and have 20 years of bottom paint stripped off and a new barrier coat put on, while I stay in Loreto and hang out by the pool.

It's summertime, so get out the pool toys. Right now it's 86F in the pool, with 20 foot visibility.
20 foot visibility is great, because you can still see to snorkel but you can't see the sharks as they circle.

By the way, I really like having Mrs. Elephante on my bowsprit. It makes people laugh.
It also keeps me from anchoring too close to other boats. Trust me on this --
I have found myself in some seriously compromising positions when working on my ground tackle,
and anyone with a telephoto lens and an internet connection could become famous at my expense.

The last blog ended in La Paz, fixing Stella Blue after a big old powerboat had a learning experience while docking next to me.

Last year I started late, and insurance rules kept me moving north to get above 26N by July 1. This year I didn't renew my insurance. They reduced my coverage to the point where it just isn't worth it. I shopped around, but offshore blue water insurance for this old boat is prohibitively expensive.
Of course, I spent eight years and $150,000 rebuilding this boat, and it's
more seaworthy than 90 percent of the brand new boats that cost less than $500,000.
Insurance companies don't care about that.

A surprising number of boats are cruising around without insurance. Someone told me to forget insurance and just buy another anchor. Well, heck, I already have four anchors.

I think the premiums are high because there are many folks out there who don't know their own boat, don't have good ground tackle, and who behave irresponsibly -- anchoring on top of other boats, or in very shallow water near shore while assuming that the wind won't change. In the last thirty days, I've met two boat owners who hit the beach when the wind changed, after anchoring too close to shore without good ground tackle.
This is why I can't afford insurance. The cost is nearly four percent of the boat's market value, the benefit if I lose the boat wouldn't begin to replace it, and the policy contains so many exceptions that
a claim would probably be denied if I wasn't tied to a dock.