About Us

Welcome to our blog, describing our voyage aboard Bravo, a Kelly Peterson 46 sailboat with homeport in Seattle, Washington. We headed south in 2010, destined for Mexico and beyond. Cheers, Adam and Cindi


"As for me, I am tormented by an everlasting itch for things remote. I love to sail forbidden seas, and land on barbarous coasts." -Herman Melville, 1844


Friday, December 16, 2011

Back aboard in La Paz after whirlwind US visit

Well, we're sort of back to where we left off when we last posted.  That is, we're still in La Paz, actually still at the same marina, Palmira, that Bravo's called home since November 10.  But there's been no moss growing on our north sides, and as of this week, there are no barnacles growing on Bravo's bottom either.

We left Bravo in her slip while we headed up to the U.S. for a couple of weeks of visiting with family and friends.  La Paz/LAX/Wash DC/Harrisburg, PA/Wash DC/Seattle/LAX and finally, La Paz again.  It was a hectic but fun trip, as we jammed in lots of visiting, eating, shopping, doctors, dentists, drinking, and oh yeah, did we mention "eating"???   Great to see folks, and sorry to those we missed...we'll be back in a few months, hope to do better on scheduling!

While in Harrisburg visiting with Adam's sister and her family, and his dad Lou, we spent a day joining  Lou at the senior center that he goes to a few times weekly.  While there, it was time for aerobics class.....led by a 92 year aerobics instructor!!!!!  She was terrific.  Yes, both Adam and Cindi were able to keep up, but admit to breaking a sweat!!!!! 

25 hungry folks ready for dinner!!!
Gray works on a roast beef, while Brian dispatches a couple of ducks
Thanksgiving was spent up in Anacortes at the Hawkens place.  Had a great time, and even took out the "Golden Troll" for some dungeness crabs the day after the holiday.  Tasty business!!!









 All in all, it was a great visit back to the states, marking our 1 year anniversary of cruising in Mexico.  It was really wonderful to see so many old friends, but it really felt great to finally arrive back aboard Bravo.  She was safe and sound as we left her.


But then the projects began...here are a few of the things we've been up to since we got back about 10 days ago:

Watermaker w/ motor and pump removed
*Watermaker rebuild:  Took entire beast apart to install new manifolds and membranes, as the water quality was getting up to about 800 ppm.  They say that membranes should last around 5 years, and as we've owned Bravo for 10 without replacement (and don't know how old they were then), it seemed like they didn't owe us much!!!  The project took about 3 full days, as the thing is a monster...motor/pump assembly alone weighs approx 100 pounds.   It's an aging relic of a watermaker, and some parts are getting pretty long in the tooth.  But it finally went back together, and with the new membranes we're now making extremely pure water, with a total salinity content of just 125 ppm.  (most sources say that a person can't even taste salt in water until approx 1000 ppm).

*Upholstery:  Cindi has been busy sewing new covers for all of the cushions in the main salon...Bravo is looking SHARP!!!


*Haul out:  We hauled Bravo out of the water for bottom paint.  Just splashed back in this morning.....went very well.  Palmar yard had a modern 60 ton travel lift, and their great crew was really careful with our home.
Here's something you won't see at boatyards in the US!!!  This kid, around 4 years old, racing around and under boats being worked on all day long!!!  (Of course, most kids fathers don't build off road racing trophy trucks, either!!!)  Check out the training wheel outriggers!!!

*Finish case for dive compressor

*Varnishing...5 coats needed, as the summer in the Sea of Cortez really took it's toll

*Fix a multitude of plumbing challenges...the Mayor of Bravo has really been having issues with the Water Department lately....ahhhhhh.....leaky toilet pumps, plugged sinks, and watermaker pre filter leaks.......


But as all of that continues, we've really been enjoying La Paz.  It's a great town to explore, and though the weather has been chilly (low 60's at night.....brrrrrr.......), it makes it easy to get things done.  Here are a few photos taken as the city starts to ramp up for Christmas.....





Went to a great carnivore's delight the other night...a pig roast at a local bbq joint, The Shack.  The guys cook a mean pig!!!  And while devouring a chunk of beast, I looked up at the wall (where folks can sign w/ a Sharpie), I saw names of old sailing friends CB and Tawn from Seattle!!!  We've just learned that they were visiting here last month (without their boat) while we were in the states.....Small world indeed!!!






".....that's all, folks!!!!!"
As the pig said, that's it for now...we'll be in La Paz through new years, when we'll start to work our way south.....cheers!

Monday, November 14, 2011

Civilization...not all it's made out to be!!!

Beautiful Sierra La Giganta range on the spine of the Baja
Wow, been well over a month since our last post...sorry about that, but internet access has been sporadic to non-existent, w/ the emphasis on the latter.  Several of you warped readers probably figured we'd gone feral, perhaps getting ready to regale you with tales of narco trafficking or gold mining adventures in the Sierra Giganta range on the Baja when next we surfaced.  Well, sorry to disappoint...we may at times seem feral, but life has been pretty hum drum aboard Bravo, for the most part.  But we have put on a bunch o' miles since we last checked in with you, so here are the highlights of the past month...

Military checkpoint...hey, times are tough down here too!!!
First, we made a whirlwind trip back to the US in mid October.  Hurricane season had pretty much come to a close, and with nothing looming in the "tropical kitchen", we deemed it safe to head north for a quick week's road trip.   Leaving Bravo on a mooring in Puerto Escondido, we rented a car, and headed north on the Baja Highway, also known as Hwy 1.  The last time Adam drove the highway was in the mid 1970's, the year after the road was paved.  The vehicle was different (then it was an old Ford Econoline former telephone company van, sporting a canoe on the roof, with 3 long haired reprobates on their Fear and Loathing "trip of self discovery", now it was a rented Nissan sedan with 2 shorter haired aging adventurers looking to inject some hard earned cash into both the Mexican and US economies!!!) but the sights were much as remembered from the past.  Our primary mission:  take advantage of this last opportunity to buy things, both toys and necessities, in the US before we head into more remote parts of the world.  Cindi, too, wanted to make a two day trip to Chicago to visit friends while Adam shopped for goodies in southern Cal, and enjoyed a visit with Cindi's brother and family.  Final tally included a new scuba dive compressor to fill our dive tanks, a couple of additional tanks, 4 new 100 pound batteries, and on and on.  That bad boy of a little car was a real low rider as we made our way back across the border.  You know the old saying, "nothing handles like a rental"????  Well, we put it to the test, as we made our way back south.  The multiple military checkpoints were a breeze, but it was the miles of construction which it took it's toll on both car and drivers!!!  How far can you really expect a little Nissan to handle 4" deep dust, sharing the road with whacko semi drivers and cows and burros???  Well, we made it ok, with only a few dings due to off road excursions to show for our troubles!!!  Next time, it might be better to take a few more days. 


Wow, was it ever a great feeling to be back aboard Bravo, back to our more relaxed pace of travel at say 7 miles per hour than trying to pass semi's in a hail of gravel at 70.  We got all of the new gear stowed and headed south, backtracking much of our route of earlier in the year.  We did have some new anchorages to explore, and the really great thing was that the temps have now dropped to allow happy hiking.  And the hiking opportunities on the Baja and the islands are fantastic.
The other bonus was that as we worked south, the water clarity improved dramatically, which made for terrific snorkeling and scuba opportunities.

But every silver lining has a cloud, or some other cliche oughta fit here...  As we got closer to La Paz, the anchorages were no longer our own.  We were now sharing them with not just other cruisers, as had been the case in the northern Sea this summer, but also with a multitude of mega power yachts based in La Paz.  And with them come their toys.....spelled J-E-T S-K-I-I-S....Man we hate those suckers, as they seem to love to use Bravo as their turning mark of their course.  Ahhhh....civilization.....

Except for our reentry issues, though, these past few weeks have really been fun and active.   Since we've been unable to post any photos without internet, we'll include a few here of some recent exploits.  Unfortunately our MacBook has died an ugly graphics card death, so we don't have access to most of our photos until our return to the US later this month.

Hiking:  As noted, the hikes have been great.  One good thing about the desert, is that in many places, trails are just not that important...you can just pick a distant destination or peak and scramble up there.  Not at all like our Pacific NW haunts, here the undergrowth is non existent, and if you're willing to risk the occasional backtrack at a cliff or boulder impasse, it seems to work well.

 
Cindi with friends Sushi the desert pug and Pat from The Rose









Cortez angelfish guards his buddy, a moray eel.  He was actually pretty aggressive about it!
 Diving:  The water has really been getting clearer, and we've enjoyed using our underwater cameras.  Still work in progress, but it's fun to get some of the underwater life on "film".  Unfortunately our shots of our swim with the whale sharks are on the Mac, so will need to wait to upload those.
King angelfish make willing subjects

Sea star going to work on a tasty oyster


Fishing report:  The fishing has continued to be outstanding.  Mainly dorado these days.  This 50" beauty kept us feasting for several days!!!



 

Dorado tacos for lunch...hard to beat!!



Duct tape holding a favorite pair of shorts together for just a couple of more weeks!!!
  Both crew and boat are badly in need of refurbishment after 4 months up in the northern sea!!!
Here's our Mexican "courtesy flag" as we reenter La Paz...already have a crisp new one flying!!  I wonder if our flag was the reason Bravo was boarded 6 times this summer by the Mexican navy????  Do ya think?????
That's all for now.  Hopefully will have more photos after we get our Mac repaired... (fingers crossed!!!)
We'll be heading back to the US tomorrow, flying out of La Paz, and will be back in early December.  More boat projects ahead, as we will haul out of the water for bottom painting, and a rather lengthy list of other boat jobs.  Will likely be in La Paz until after New Years, when it will be time to set sail for Central and South America.  

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Heading south

Well, hurricane Hillary has run her course, and happily for those of us summering in the Sea of Cortez, she stayed well offshore and was hardly noticed here. Saw a bit more cloudiness than the normal cloudless blue skies, but otherwise she was a thankful non event. There is another tropical disturbance, #9 of the season, now trying to form south of Acapulco (he'll be named Irwin if he gets his act together), but as of today this bad boy has only a 20% chance of becoming a hurricane, and models show that the rascal will likely stay well offshore. Still early to know for sure, and fingers are crossed. That discussion gives an idea of much of the chatter among the cruisers these days, as the late season storms are the ones with a history of swinging through the Sea.

There was a big gathering of boats, perhaps 25 or so, last Thursday, in Puerto Don Juan, the natural hurricane hole up here. (Also known as Puerto Pollo...cluck like a chicken when you say it!!!) We had a fantastic potluck on the beach, as boats realized that the end of the summer was upon us. All of these boats have summered up here, and while we're glad to finally be able to start to venture back into the hurricane belt, it was somewhat bittersweet to say our goodbyes to friends who will all be scattering in different directions. A bit like the end of summercamp!!

All that said, we left the Bay of Los Angeles in our wake two days ago, to begin our journey south. We're taking it slow, with one toe on the beach, until Irwin makes his intentions known with more certainty, but will be backtracking our early summer northward migration toward La Paz, where we'll spend several weeks. There are many new anchorages for us to explore on the way, though, as we missed many in our journey north earlier in the summer. Weather permitting, we plan on getting into Puerto Escondido in approx 2 weeks. Leaving Bravo on a mooring ball, we'll rent a car in Loreto and travel to San Diego to pick up new batteries, and a dive compressor for filling our scuba tanks. We've found that without it, it's just not practical to scuba dive in many places, as often the filling stations are few and far between.

We'll spend the holidays in La Paz (with a two week trip to the US for Thanksgiving), hauling Bravo out for a bottom paint job and other projects, and provisioning before we start our journey south. Not sure exactly what our route will be, but it may include spending this next year exploring central America and the Galapagos, before heading across to the south Pacific late in the year. As always, all plans are written in the sand at low tide...Stay tuned!!!

Fishing Report: Fishing continues to be excellent. Most of the dorado action is over, at least close to shore, but the attention these days is on sierra, a scrappy, tasty Spanish mackerel. With several in the freezer, we're eating well indeed!!!

Once again, we apologize for the lack of photos. Yes, we're still taking 'em, but we still have no good internet access to upload pix. Soon.......access to internet will return when we leave the northern Sea.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Another circumnavigation completed...

...of Isla Angel de la Garda, that is!!!
When we last spoke, we were at the north end of the 41 mile island, in Puerto Refugio. We thoroughly enjoyed that remote area, snorkeling every day (at least once!!), spearfishing, and generally taking in the natural beauty of the place. We were there for about 1 week, before we headed south, down the outside (east side) of the island. Very few boats venture down the east side, with most of the traffic heading down the channel between the island's west shore and the Baja peninsula. But we were eager to explore new places, and the east side did not disappoint!! In fact, we had some of the clearest water, with best snorkeling we've seen in all of Mexico, in Bahia Punta Pulpito, about midway down the coast. The area is not close to any population center, so the fish are abundant, and save for a(nother) boarding by the ever vigilant and ever polite Mexican navy, we saw no other boats in the several days we spent out there.

We then headed in a somewhat roundabout fashion back over to Bahia de los Angeles, and into town for resupply. One night we went in for pizza with a bunch of other cruisers to the local Italian joint, owned by an interesting character from Rome. (Before opening the pizzeria, he rode his motorcycle from Rome to Beijing, and then from Tierra del Fuego to Prudhoe Bay!!! ....David, are you listening???) Good stories! While munching down our meals, we saw a spectacular lightning show to the east. The sky continued to darken, and we novices to the area didn't take the warning signs seriously enough. (The Baja veterans all seemed to need to get back to their boats before dessert...go figure!!!) Well, when we finally got to the dinghies on the beach, in the dark, the winds were starting to howl. We got drenched making it back to the boat in the really dramatic gusts, and when we finally got aboard Bravo, the chubasco was in full swing, with gusts of over 50 knots noted by all of the anchored boats. We clambered aboard the transom ladder, between gusts which were healing Bravo at nearly 20 degrees...Certainly an evening to remember. No damage done, but lots of lessons learned....this Baja weather, especially in the summer, really requires constant vigilance, as the storms come up with little warning, and with high winds and waves. But our anchoring system is working well, and as long as we get the laundry in and sun awnings down, all is generally a-ok. Some boats have had trouble holding in the winds, but they've been able to claw their way to safety, avoiding a nasty beaching.

Whale shark report: The entire Bay of LA is a summer hang out for whale sharks, as they feed in the warm, plankton rich waters. While anchored off the village one afternoon, we saw several swimming nearby on the surface, (cue the Jaws music), dorsal fins slowly circling, a tail fin here and there. We hastily threw our snorkeling gear into the dinghy, and went off to greet these truly gentle giants. (Whale sharks are the world's biggest fish, reaching nearly 50 feet and 15 tons.) We saw three feeding lazily on the surface, and one by one, we each slipped into the water with them. They swam right toward us with their upside-down 5 foot wide grin, looked at us and turned away to continue their feeding showing us their entire body and tail. It was a truly wonderful experience, as we watched the 25-30 foot long fish swim by so close we could see the remoras clinging to their sides. They seemed aware of our presence, but not at all disturbed by it. Fantastic!!!

We're now in the anchorage known as La Gringa, just north of the BLA village by 4 miles or so. The whole summer "fleet", of around 30 boats gathered here for the past few days for the second "floaty party", celebrating the full moon. This was a MUCH bigger deal than the first full moon party (last month), with prizes going to best costumed floaties, in many categories!!! Your trusty scribes from the good ship Bravo were even fortunate enough to bring home some hardware for our effort!!!!!...photos will follow when we next get a chance to access the internet. A great potluck followed on the beach, as we watched the moonrise over the lagoon....not a shabby day at all!!!

Went diving today with friends from Buena Vista and, what else, Goin' Diving, who was nice enough to fill our tanks with their compressor. Nice to get the kinks out of all the systems, as we haven't really been diving at all since last winter down south on the Mexican mainland. There just isn't really a good place to fill tanks in the northern Sea, and we like to keep at least one full tank aboard for emergencies. Maybe a compressor in our future...we'll see.

Fishing report: Fishing continues to be excellent up here. Now in addition to dorado, we're catching a type of Spanish mackerel known locally as sierra. Ranging from 15 to 30 inches or so, they are most tasty additions to the freezer!!! Also small yellowtails are now biting, and they make wonderful raw poke, sushi, or ceviche.

Tomorrow we'll head back to BLA for some supplies and possibly internet access, if it's working again! It has been intermittent. As you can probably tell, we're in a bit of a holding pattern now, as we wait for the hurricane danger of the season to pass. We'll then begin to make our way south sometime in October. More to follow...

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Wild and Wooly in the Northern Sea of Cortez

Hola, amigos! It's been a few weeks since our last update, and for that, we apologize. But we've been working our way north, out of internet connection range for the most part, and have finally arrived at our likely northern most location for the rest of the summer, Puerto Refugio.

Yesterday was an interesting one. Started out like most, with little wind, and hot sunny skies. We were planning a long hop north, about 35 miles. Leaving our snug little anchorage at Isla Mitlan, we motored for the first hour or so. A light wind out of the SE came up, so we hoisted our sails. Lovely, smooth downwind sailing, with two fishing lines out. Hooked into a nice dorado, and while playing him, the wind began to come up (of course!). We landed him, and as I was cleaning him, the wind rose (of course!) into the 20's, with gusts tickling 30. Yikes...finish up with the fish, it's time to reef!!! Fish quickly in the freezer, we got the first reef tucked in, as the wind continued to build...now steady in the 30's with gusts hitting 40. Time for the 2nd reef in the main, and douse the genoa, let's hoist the staysail. Okee dokie...all good for a few minutes. Now the wind was a steady 40-45, with gusts in the mid 50's. High wind on the instruments (that I had the nerve to look at!!!) was 58 knots! Yeeeee Hah!!! Wish we had rigged the #3 reef line in the main, or the trysail, but we never thought we'd see winds like this. So we held on for the wild ride, watching huge rooster tails flying off the transom as we surfed down the waves at nearly 12 knots...that's a big number for Bravo!!! But for a long time, she remained in full if energetic control. Eventually, as we were rounding up in the gusts with even #2 reefed mainsail up, it was time to drop it altogether, and we continued on with the staysail for the last 5 miles into Puerto Refugio. 'Bravo' once again showed us what a fantastic voyaging boat she is, handling the nearly 60 knot winds unharmed. That said, it sure felt great to come around the corner with the wind falling, and drop the anchor in the bay worthy of it's name. The wind was squirrelly the rest of the afternoon and all night, ranging from 5 to 35 knots out of the west. A bit of an uneasy sleep, but no worries, the anchor held fine.

Puerto Refugio is a beautiful spot. Quite remote, with no real settlements nearby. It reminds us a lot of the west coast of Vancouver Island, desert style. It's at the north end of Isla Angel de la Guarda, a 41 mile long, uninhabited island in the Sea of Cortez. The area is a wild, rocky, and barren wilderness, with only 3 other boats now here in the 5 natural anchorages. Two of those boats are single handers, who've headed here specifically for the isolation and privacy the area affords. The other boat is Buena Vista, another Peterson 46 with friends Don and Deb aboard. Great snorkeling, kayaking, and fishing adventures all around. We'll likely spend a couple of weeks here before heading back south to Bay of Los Angeles for resupply.

So, what have we been up to the past couple of weeks, since leaving Santa Rosalia?? Well, we've been thoroughly enjoying the central/northern Sea. The wildlife has been spectacular. Most days we spot whales of one sort or another. So far we've seen sperm, fin, sei, gray, and pilot whales. Dolphins are all around, as are coyotes (on the beaches), amazing birdlife, hiking (whenever we get an occasional cloudy morning) and great fishing. Quoting from one of our guidebooks, about one of our favorite recent anchorages (San Francisquito)..."Bahia San Francisquito is unique and wonderful, offering a real essence of the heart of Baja. The lonely howls and cries of coyotes roaming nearby hillsides, and the distant blows of whales feeding on the nutrient rich sea mark the late night hours here....At San Francisquito the desert and sea combine, making a perfect stop for the nature lover, the hiker, and the fisherman." (thanks to Shawn Breeding and Heather Bansmer) It's all true!!!

The social scene up here in the summer is active, with around 25-30 boats spending the summer aboard. We had the first of two "full moon parties" in Bahia de los Angeles a few days ago, where folks brought out their floaty toys (or "noodles") to "run the estuary" as it drained on the ebbing tide. A beach potluck followed. Great sailing stories told by all ("...So there we were....."), and it was fun to put faces to many voices we've been talking to on the radio over the past 8 months.

The summer scene revolves around the tiny hamlet of Bahia de los Angeles, but more importantly, Puerto Don Juan, the only real "hurricane hole" in the Sea of Cortez. We'll be staying no more than one day's sail from Don Juan, and can head into the sheltered bay when a major storm threatens. Weather forecasting has taken on a new importance these days, as we're now officially into the hurricane season for the Sea, which runs from around August 15 through the end of October. We follow all tropical depressions as they begin to form down south, and through radio nets and radio email broadcasts are able to track their development. The other weather phenomena which cause concern are more localized (such as the winds we encountered sailing here yesterday). Known as chubascos, these rascals develop over the Sierra Madre mountains on the mainland to the east of the Sea, and the convection cells can often bring massive lightning, rain, and very strong downdrafts. Hard to predict where they'll hit, we always keep a weather eye to the east, especially in the evenings, to be on the lookout for the towering cumulous clouds which can indicate an oncoming chubasco.

So, here we are, in the northern Sea of Cortez, for the next 8 weeks or so. We'll continue to post to the blog via radio email, like this, but unfortunately that means no photos. Will try to upload some pix when we're next in Bahia de los Angeles, at an internet cafe. CHEERS!!!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Santa Rosalia rambles, or......."16 Tons, waddaya get?????"



(Apologies to Tennessee Ernie Ford!!!)

'Bravo' anchored in the panga harbor
We're now in the copper mining town of Santa Rosalia, roughly midway up the Sea of Cortez.  The French operated a copper mine here from the late 1800's until the mid 1900's.  When the ore was running dry, they turned it back over to the Mexicans....(a typical scenario).  Although the mine has been inactive for many years, evidence is all around, including French style residential buildings, mine structures, and even a metal church designed by Gustave Eiffel (of Eiffel Tower and Statue of Liberty fame).  Interesting town, if a bit down at the corners without a major source of revenue since the mine shut down.  An effort is underway to get it reopened by 2013, using newer technologies to extract additional copper from the ore.  Fishing by the local panga fleet is active, but tourism has not taken hold.
Wedding in the Eiffel church

The happy (???) couple

There are two small marinas here.  We're staying at one for a few days, after anchoring out waiting for a slip to finally open.  The marina has an AIR CONDITIONED room to hang out in, as well as a tiny pool.  Since we haven't been in a marina since April, we're enjoying using the facilities to clean the boat with fresh water, use unlimited electricity, and take care of lots of misc projects in the AIR CONDITIONED room!!!  Cool!!!

Mystery photo.....what is it???  (answer:  2 rain drops that we saw on a rock yesterday...I think 4 or 5 more fell after.  This was the first rain we've seen since last December, in San Diego!!!


Took a hike with other Seattle cruisers Paul and Judy from s/v Grace up to the large cemetery above the town.  Picking a dark, overcast day made for a cool hiking day, and gave a bit of gothic overtone to our "day of the dead".  It sounds like safety may have been a bit lax in the mine, as the story is that over 24,000 died working there in the 100 years of operation.  It was an interesting hike, and the views of the town below were great.  The graves varied from small piles of stones to fairly elaborate.  One in particular really showed a sense of creativity and "can do" attitude which we've become so fond of in Mexico.  The cemetery is completely dry, on top of the mesa overlooking town.  Seems someone wanted a garden oasis palapa (thatched hut) design motif, hard to accomplish without water.  So they cut the tank off of the back of a water truck, and partially buried it on the hill above the grave.  A hose led to the garden below, and BINGO!, it's an irrigated garden gravesite!!! 
Graveyard gardening, desert style!!!

Reminds me of another "can do" sight we saw a few weeks ago in Agua Verde.  While hiking in the hills, we came across a cow hanging from a big tree branch, under the only tree in the area.  The cow was suspended by a sling under her belly, and her rear legs were slightly lifted off the ground with a chain engine hoist.  She was free to munch hay at the head end, and her udders were hanging down, ready for milking.  As we scratched our heads, trying to figure out what was going on, we realized that one of her rear legs was splinted.  Seems like she'd broken a leg, and they kept her hanging under the tree until it healed!!!!!  Wasn't her time to be a carne asada taco!!!  Ah......Mexico, ya gotta love it!!!


But I digress.....Since leaving Geary's beachside party on July 4th, we've worked our way slowly here, stopping at a couple of interesting anchorages en route...Punta Chivato and Isla San Marcos.  Punta Chivato had a great shell beach...miles of amazing shells to comb through.  And good snorkeling, though we saw several venomous stone fish....they're so well camoflaged that it's really the ones, likely many, that we don't see that are the worry!!!



Isla San Marcos was another mining story, of a different sort.  The open pit gypsum mine a mile or two from the anchorage is still operational, and when the wind is wrong, a cloud of airborne gypsum dust wafts over the boat.  But the anchorage was very protective in the strong northerly wind we were having, so we spent a few days snorkeling and hiking into the company town on the island.
San Marcos gypsum mine and town
Kids' playground right next to the loading towers!  I think they got the feng shui all wrong!!!

Since this is the first time we've had internet for a while, we'll get you caught up on some of the photos getting us up to the present.
July 4th at Geary's in El Burro Cove
Beating the heat on the 4th

Ending the dorado dry spell!!!
Views were great from the nice hike above El Burro Cove.
But like all Baja hikes, it was HOT!!!



Finding many of the native petroglyphs on boulders was interesting.  Baja has many such sites.

Another inspirational Baja sunset

And finally, for those of you who have read this far, here is a little bonus wildlife video, shot off the boat a few days ago.....have fun!!

Friday, July 8, 2011

Weather (or not)

Do any of you remember the movie "Body Heat"? Seems like it was 70's or 80's...William Hurt, Kathleen Turner. Quite steamy. In the movie, Miami was going through a heat wave. Was on everyone's mind, mostly what they talked about. And everyone was constantly glistening/dripping with sweat.

Well, we've arrived to summer in the central Sea of Cortez, and the weather has become a major topic of conversation. Unlike the winter months that were spent down south on the mainland, where the weather couldn't have been more benign or pleasant, we've entered a bit of a new reality. (And with the temps in the mid/upper 90's, it's not even THAT hot, according to the veterans). All boats become nearly obsessed with devising ways to provide shade. Ranging from simple blue tarps hung over the boom, to elaborate canvas/zipper/snap/velcro contraptions, the goal is the same...provide shade from the intense desert sun. (Our system is a work in progress, and falls somewhere between these two categories). And we're constantly dripping wet. Fans are our new best friends, even portable ones outside in the cockpit. We have at least two of our 8 cabin fans running constantly 24/7 whenever we're aboard. And it's really hard to drink enough water to keep hydrated, a constant effort.

Refrigeration takes on a whole new dimension as well in the heat. The system is working very hard these days to keep us supplied with ice and cold beer. (as well as keep our freshly caught dorado ready for the pan!!) It's kind of a triple whammy: First, we typically have been self sustaining, energy wise, with our solar panels. They have been providing enough energy to run the boat day and night, whether under sail or at anchor. Unfortunately solar panels become less efficient as they get hotter. They turn out fewer amp/hours per day. That's whammy #1. Second is that the air temp is now typically in the upper 90's all day, cooling down to the mid 80's at night. So there's just a lot more cooling needed to keep the fridge and freezer at the proper temp. And whammy #3 is the water temp. Our system is cooled with sea water pumped into a loop to carry off the waste heat of the refrigeration cycle. The sea temp has now risen to the mid 80's, making for great swimming (even a bit too warm), and excellent dorado fishing. But it's much less efficient as a coolant for the refer system. We've installed a couple of additional fans in the equipment spaces to provide extra cooling to the refer system and the solar charger, which has been running it's internal fan constantly. All this means that the system is working very hard...so far so good, but we need to run our generator for an hour or so every morning to give a bit of extra boost to the batteries.

The good side to the heat, of course, is that we typically spend a couple of hours daily in the water. Although it's sort of like a warm bath, it nonetheless does provide some relief from the heat. And gives everyone time to play with their "floaty toys", ranging from simple "noodles" to fancy rafts, chairs with drink holders, and a huge assortment of inflatable critters. All good fun!!!

And it's not just the heat. Wind has become a much greater topic of concern as well. Naturally we all follow the tropical depressions as they develop down in southern Mexico, as they have the potential to develop into hurricanes as has happened twice already this season. Happily those two headed out toward Socorro Island before dissipating. But the convection cells born by the hot temperatures on land and warming water, as well as the heat and barometer pressures in the US southwest have dramatic effects on our winds on a more localized basis. Starting on July 1, a nightly Chubasco report is broadcast via email, giving us the likelihood of a Chubasco wind hitting us that night. The Chubasco's can be rather nasty, coming up very suddenly in the middle of the night and packing winds with potential speeds up to just shy of hurricanes. Thunder, lightening, and hard rain can also be part of this rascal's arsenal. We have not yet experienced any down here in the central Sea (we're anchored in the Bay of Conception in El Burro Cove, approx 14 miles south of Mulege). But a few nights ago one hit in the Bahia de Los Angeles, where we'll be heading soon, and it had reported winds of 57 knots, over 60 mph. You may have heard about a Mexican tour boat flipping near San Felipe in the northern Sea during a Chubasco event a few days ago. Several folks are still missing from this disaster, and this was a big, commercial vessel, who was apparently caught out where/when he shouldn't have been.

This means that part of our daily routine now is putting up all of our sun shading every morning when we wake, and taking it all down as the sun sets. To keep the tents and tarps up at night would be a sure invitation that we'd be visited by a Chubasco!!! And we're thrilled that we invested in a new, oversized 90 lb Rocna anchor before we left Seattle.

For the 4th of July we attended a tremendous gathering of yachties and others at the beach palapa of Geary, our local weather guru. A yearly event, Geary provides the tents and 300 hot dogs, while all of the 30 to 40 boats anchored out bring pot luck dishes. It was a great time to meet up with old friends and make new ones, as we all get prepared to weather the coming summer months, playing in the northern Sea of Cortez.

Sorry about the lack of pictures...access to internet service will become more and more sporadic throughout the summer in the Sea.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Summer time (and the livin' is easy!!)


Upper temp in cabin, lower outside, at 5 pm.
Happy summer, everyone!  The solstice has come and gone, and things are indeed warming up here in the Sea.  Actually the locals keep telling us what a nice cool season it's been so far, but it sure feels warm for us gringos from the north country!!!  And summer's just begun.  We've been hearing reports from Geary, a local weather guru, that the temps in the Bahia de Los Angeles (a bay around 100 miles to our north, where we plan on spending the summer) have been ranging from 110 to 116 degrees  this past week.  Yikes!!!  I didn't even know it got to 116 on planet earth!!!  Happily he reported that it was an error on the part of the automated reporting station, and the temps are only around 100.  Whew, that's more like it!!!  August and September are when it gets warm, so folks say!!!

We've been busy exploring the various islands and anchorages in the area.  Islas Carmen, Coronados, and Danzante all have wonderful protected spots to drop anchor, kayak, fish, hike, snorkel, and just relax.  We've even been getting in some excellent sailing for a change!!!

Looking pretty cruisy, w/ just a kite up, no main!!!  Photo courtesy of Bill, on 'Iron Maiden'


We took a quick 5 day trip up to the US for some business and to renew our visas.  Flew in and out of Loreto, went very smoothly.  Now anchored at Isla Coronados, where we can get internet connection out of Loreto, approx 6 miles to the south.





Had a great time exploring Isla Carmen.

One spot that we anchored at, Bahia Salinas, was the site of an old salt mining town, where great quantities of salt was collected and shipped globally.  The town was abandoned in the early 1980's, and it's pretty much as it was left, with the harsh elements rapidly reducing it to rust and bricks.  Very cool to explore, and the hike out to the salt flats was a good one.  Joined at Salinas by friends from boats Kashmira and Kachasa, we also snorkeled on the wreck of an old tuna boat which sunk a number of years ago in the bay.  Great reef has formed with a tremendous array of fish, lobster, and other critters.  We stayed for hours on the wreck.


The closest we came to playing in the snow this year!!


 
Forklift has lifted it's last bag of salt!!!




View from top of Coronados


The hiking on the islands has been excellent, especially in the morning, before things really begin to bake.  Though Adam has been nursing a pulled back for the past couple of days, Cindi did a fun hike up to the 1000' high top of Isla Coronados yesterday with friends Mark and Ann from boat Blue Rodeo.


Fishing report:  Remains pretty slow.  We've had good luck catching skipjack tuna, but due to their funky blood red meat, they always get a "catch and release" aboard 'Bravo'.  Had a small dorado on the line, but he threw the hook just as he was coming over the rail...Otherwise, a small baracuda caught while dinghy fishing is about it.  The water is warming up, so hopefully so will the fishing!!! 

Some tasty new tidbits!!!
We did get several new lures in Loreto, so stay tuned!!!  (though some say that "lures are designed to catch fishermen, not fish".....hope springs eternal!!!



Will weigh anchor today, and continue to work our way north in the Sea.