Adios Cabo! Heading into the Sea of Cortez!!

We are sailing north into the Sea of Cortez today, bound for Los Failes.  We likely won’t have internet until we reach Mazatlan in as little as a week or as long as three.  We will be fishing and diving in the warm waters and finally spending some time just relaxing and resting on the boat; Cabo has worn us out!

We have really enjoyed Puerto los Cabos.  It is an absolutely beautiful marina and the historic town is equally impressive.  The rich history and art galleries are world class.  We bought some beautiful hand-crafted bead art that we will have to take a picture of.  We spent yesterday evening perusing the galleries, listening to live music and sharing a delicious meal in an open-air venue.  The weather is great; mid-80’s every day.  The people are friendly, helpful and generous.  We wish we could afford to stay longer but this place is very expensive!

We uploaded a bunch of pictures in the previous post.

Talk to everyone later!  We must put to sea once again.

 

November 30, 2013

Puerto los Cabos Marina, San Jose del Cabo, BCS, Mexico

Baja Pictures!!

As promised, here are some of the best pictures we have from our trip from San Diego to Cabo.

IMG_0850Sunset first night out of Ensenada

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Fuel pier in Bahia Tortugas

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Dinner with Green Panther!  Fresh Ahi!

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Our route from Bahia Tortugas to Bahia Santa Maria

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Enjoying fresh lobster and tuna in Bahia Santa Maria with Green Panther!

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Dinghy expedition up the estuary in Bahia Santa Maria

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Caught our first white fish – a Mexican Bonito!

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Skipjack Tuna!

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Going to shore in Puerto Magdelena, Mag Bay

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Chillin’ at the whale bone restaurant in Mag Bay

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The fishing village of Puerto Magdelena

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Hiking in Mag Bay.  Can you see Ellie??  (She is on the right)

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We made it to Cabo!!  Can you see the arch??

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Cruising the harbor at Cabo with Island Princess (Doug and Elena)

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You DON’T want to see this in open water!!

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Roughin’ it Cabo style.  Ellie in backgound getting tossed around…

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Miss Lyss working on our jerry jug coversIMG_1132

Another shot of Ellie amongst the chaos of Cabo

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Beautiful church and grounds in San Jose del Cabo

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Enjoying lunch in the art district of San Jose del Cabo

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Thanksgiving dinner on Island Princess in Puerto los Cabos

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Beach day in San Jose del Cabo!

Thanksgiving – Cabo Style

Hey Everyone,

We sailed in to Cabo on Monday afternoon and anchored right off the white sand beach smack dab in the middle of party central!  The music was blaring “shots! shots! shots!”, jet ski’s buzzing within 5 feet of Ellie, pangas, sport fishing boats, cruise ships, paddle boards, kayaks, swimmers!  It was insanity and a very stark contrast to our quiet baja anchorages.  To top it off, there was a 15 knot wind from the SW blowing directly in to the anchorage – so we almost left immediately in fear of being pushed on to the beach / lee shore.

We stuck it out until the evening and the wind died down so we stayed.  Our friends Doug and Elena on Island Princess came over for some wine while we watched our position and made sure our anchor was set hard.

The next day we decided to participate in the mahem….when in Rome right?  We swam to shore early in the morning before the jet ski’s were launched and went to find our friends on Green Panther to catch up over some tea.  After visiting we made our way over to the beach – Cabo is insane!  We had a bucket of beer and were thoroughly amused by the people watching (Slove – we are sending you the T&A shots).  There were 18-20 year olds participating in an assortment of drinking games that were hilarious.  We watched the sun set from the Sand Bar and then took a water taxi back to Ellie for the night.

Today we sailed to Puerto Los Cabos, a new marina facility located 18 miles east of Cabo San Lucas.  We will spend Thanksgiving here with our friends on Island Princess and then head north to Frailes before departing for Mazatlan on the mainland.

We wish everyone a Happy Thanksgiving and will miss everyone.  We will try and skype tomorrow.

Cheers from Cabo!

Lewis and Alyssa

p.s. We have a bunch of great pictures that we will try our best to upload before departing here on Friday.

Float Plan 11/24 – Mag Bay to Cabo

Buenos Dias!

The winds shifted to the east and made the anchorage untenable.  We are under sail headed out of Mag Bay as of 0900 MT / 1600 Z.  We are bound for Cabo San Lucas.  170 nm.  We expect to be in no later than Tuesday afternoon.

Winds are forecast from the E and NE at 15 knots so we are expecting a glorious sail south with breeze off the peninsula and relatively calm seas – hopefully that is the case!

We are drifting out of the bay under full canvas with two fishing lines trailing off the stern.  Barometer is high at 1015 mb; sunny skies and already 75 degrees in the cabin.

Email from Cabo.

Have a great day.

We’re in Bahia Magdelena!

We had an awesome sail into Bahia Magdelena today from Bahia Santa Maria.  We had breakfast, brought the anchor up and pointed Ellie’s bow south.  We were expecting benign conditions because the GRIBs and weather fax were calling for less than 10 knots.  Not exactly what happened…. An 18-25 knot SW wind quickly filled in and we were close hauled sailing under a reefed main and partially furled jib making 6-7 knots! That’s right, I said SOUTH wind!  It was crazy to be sailing south close on the wind, but a lot of fun.  We were racing south past the towering lush green mountains on the south side of Bahia Santa Maria and quickly approaching Punta Entrada on the north side of the entrance to Bahia Magdelena.

En route we caught two fish!  The first was a Mexican Bonito and the second was a Skipjack!  The skipjack was larger than the tuna we caught; he was huge!  I knew it was a big one when he was dragging in the wake so much the bungee cord was pulled tight the entire time. I wrestled him in and after less than a minute onboard he managed to get blood everywhere!  I finally got through his spine and dispatched him.  The freezer and fridge are now full of tuna, lobster, bonito and skipjack….and we haven’t seen a fish market or grocery store in over 500 miles!  Awesome.

We had a bit of current against us as we entered Mag Bay which made for a bumpy entrance.  It was similar to the potato patch off SF Bay.  As we turned downwind to enter the bay, poor Ellie got thrown beam-to-beam in the steep swells, but we were in the lee of Punta Entrada soon enough and headed back north on flat water.  The wind was still stiff at 15-18 knots from the W and we were making 6.5 knots on a beam reach.  It was one of those glorious sails that us bay sailors dream about.  We sailed about 10 miles north until we reached Puerto Magdelena in Man-of-War cove.

We set the anchor hard, cleaned our catch, loaded the dinghy and headed for the village.  Once on shore we found the only eating establishment in town and settled into some beach chairs with a cold cerveza.  We ordered up some fish tacos (that may have been shark meat) and made a toast to an awesome sail.  The guy who ran the restaurant was very friendly and welcoming.  The beach here is littered with enormous whale bones and there are remnants of whaling stations littered along the western shore.

We walked around the village and found a hut with english letters painted on the front “Grocery Store”  Score!  Except not.  It was abandoned and only a chair and a table remained…..I guess we will have to wait until Cabo for more fresh produce…

We did manage to snag a case of cerveza from the restaurant, but when we were unloading it on the boat we found a ROACH!  Alyssa was thoroughly grossed out!  I threw it overboard, we bagged the cardboard, bleached the cans and vowed to never bring packaging onboard ever again!

Not sure how long we’ll be in Mag Bay, but the fishing is suppose to be amazing, so we better make some room in the freezer!

Paradise Found!

Another panga came up and wanted to trade for more lobster.  He was asking for candy for his child or batteries.  We remembered that we had this jar of gummy lobsters that Alyssa’s Grandmother had given us.  We thought it was hilarious to trade gummy lobsters for three real spiny lobsters! haha

We threw three more in the boiler and invited our friends Chris and Alena (Green Panther) over for lunch.  We all gorged ourselves on two lobsters and an assortment of sides.  It was a fantastic meal!

After lunch we all jumped in the dinghy and headed to shore.  We only had the 4.0 HP motor on the back so entering the wave-protected estuary was going to be tricky.  We tried to time the waves as best as possible but ultimately had to bail out of the dinghy and tow it in.  The current was ebbing out of the estuary very strong and we burned a decent amount of gas getting past the small fishing camp and upstream into a secondary channel that was covered in bright green mangroves.  We followed the mangrove-lined channel up about a half mile and watched as the fish danced and darted away up- and down-stream.

We then headed back down-river past the fishing camp.  The fisherman are very friendly here.  One of the guys was trying to lift a huge shark out of his panga and show us his catch, but the beast was so large all he could raise was the head!

We took a long walk on the beach before returning to the boat.  We collected some sand dollars and realized that we finally made it to warm waters!  We walked in the surf and the water felt like a bath!  So excited that we are this far south!

We are getting ready for another lobster dinner with our friends on Green Panther.  The towering mountains to the north are spectacular with puffy cumulus clouds over top.  A long white sand beach curves for miles to another set of mountains to the south.  The wind is blowing less than 8 knots from the NNW.  The water here is calm with almost no swell.  The temp in the cabin is 78 degrees.

A great day in Bahia Santa Maria.  We haven’t checked the forecast yet, but we may stay a while longer….

Lobster in Exchange for Batteries!

Buenos Dias!

We awoke this morning to a panga approaching alongside.  Two fisherman with a large bucket of fresh longosta (lobster)!  After greeting each other in spanish, they asked if we wanted to trade for some longosta – sure!  All they wanted was some AA batteries.  I went down below and grabbed 6 batteries and they gave us two longosta!  We are boiling water now and the fresh lobsta are awaiting a hot bath!

We will be launching the dinghy and exploring the fishing village today.  We may even hike out to the lighthouse I saw when we made landfall yesterday.

Sleigh Ride Down the Baja Coast! Anchored in Bahia Santa Maria!

We made it to Bahia Santa Maria!  250 nautical miles in 50 hours.  We estimated it would take us three days but we did it in two!  We had a strong NW wind 15 – 20 knots for most of the passage and only ran the engine the first night when the wind died to less than 6 knots.  The first day we sailed with the code zero gennaker and made 6 – 6.5 knots.  The second day the seas got very lumpy and mixed so the code zero would collapse and shake the rigging so we pulled it down and raised a full main sail and rode that south at an average of 6+ knots for the remainder of the passage.  The only maintenance was jibing, reefing down the sail when the wind piped up and shaking out reefs when it eased off.  The monitor wind vane is amazing and it steered an almost perfect course the entire passage (almost because Alyssa swears it wouldn’t hold close to dead down wind and she hand steered for an hour or so because she wanted to let me sleep some more – thanks babe!).

It was a pretty raucous passage with a relatively large opposing mixed swell from the NW and from the S, making it tough to keep the sails filled so they wouldn’t flog. We found the best solution was flying the main with a single reef in and a jibe-preventer tied tight; under this arrangement we were able to make 5.5 – 6.5 knots in 14 – 20 knots of wind and keep the monitor wind vane happy.  The mixed swell created some large seas at times and a few of them threw Ellie down on her beam-ends and stuff got thrown around the cabin.  The seas also made sleep much more difficult.  We are not as rested as upon our arrival in Bahia Tortugas.

A huge cruise ship bound for Puerto Vallarta passed within 2 miles of us last night.  I picked him up on radar about 12 miles out but couldn’t make out his nav lights.  It just looked like a huge moving oil derrick.  I hailed him and spoke with the captain on the bridge.  I gave him our location, course and speed and he said we could safely maintain our course.  I held our course until he was about 6 miles away, but the angle of approach on the radar was not changing – meaning we were on a collision course.  I decided to jibe away from him and pulled a very reluctant Princess out of her bunk to help me.  I’m glad we jibed because if we hadn’t we would have passed within a half mile of each other instead of the 2.25 mile berth after the jibe.  The cruise ship was still enormous even from two miles away.  Speaking to the bridge on VHF was cool – he even addressed me as Captain.  I think he was Italian based on his accent.

Ellie performed flawlessly and the only minor issue was a clog in the primary bilge hose.  The waves were tossing us beam-to-beam so the water tank vents were spilling into the bilge.  We heard it running but it wouldn’t suck up the water so out came the screwdriver and headlamp and I went about finding the clog – yup, predictably it was full of blonde mermaid hair!  I even put screen over the bilge so this wouldn’t happen, but alas, mermaid hair wins another round.  I was able to clear the hose and we were back in business in short order.

We still have a ton of tuna in the fridge and freezer so we didn’t put the lures out this time.  Need to make a dent in the fish stores before bringing more in.

We are three miles out and coming in to the anchorage.  We are excited to explore ashore.  There is a small fishing village on the banks of the estuary on the NW side and the guide book says you can trade water and fishing gear for lobster; we’ll keep ya posted.  It’s also finally green on the mountains!  Great change from the barren desert landscape of northern Baja.

We will be here for a day or two before heading ~25 miles down the coast and entering Bahia Magdelena.  Bahia Magdelena is a huge natural harbor, almost the size of SF bay, but as you can imagine, MUCH less developed.  We plan to gunkhole around Mag Bay for a week or so before heading south again.

Hope all is well.  We look forward to reading your comments once we get internet again!

I will also post some great pics once I find WiFi.

Cheers,
Lewis & Alyssa

November 19, 2013

Anchored in Bahia San Bartolome (Turtle Bay) after 3 days and 300 nautical miles at sea!

We are swinging at anchor in the south west side of Turtle Bay, Baja California Sur, Mexico, a few hundred yards from a small fishing village.  We arrived this morning under sail after three days at sea.

We departed Ensenada Tuesday at noon, raised sail, rounded Cabo Punta Banda and rode a fresh 20 knot NNW wind for two days without turning on the engine once!  Our course took us 75 miles offshore, where we found strong consistent winds and a mixed swell of 5-8 feet from the NW and SW that tossed us around during most of the passage.  We sailed under full main and full jib, then dropped the main and sailed wing-and-wing with the jib poled out, then briefly flew the code zero gennaker before retiring it and resuming downwind with reefed main and full jib.  After two days at sea the wind gave out and was blowing less than 4 knots apparent so we fired up the iron genoa (engine) and I charted us a rhumb line course towards Turtle Bay.  Last night the wind filled in from the SW and I raised sail for a couple hours before it died again and we committed to proceeding under power at 4 knots.  Early this morning during Alyssa’s shift the wind returned and we were able to sail the last 30 miles directly into the protection of Turtle Bay.

We caught three yellow fin tuna while under way!  We made a hand line in San Diego – a hand line is basically a bungee cord attached to 50 feet of line, then 25 feet of 150lb mono fishing line and then the lure (a simple cedar wood plug).  Catching the first fish was very exciting!  We cleaned him and instantly took a bite of the fresh sushi!  NOTE: Bad Idea.  Didn’t realize that the meat is still tough from the fight!  Luckily after a few hours in the fridge, the fresh ahi tuna is better than any poke or sashimi you can get in the best sushi restaurant in the world!  After the second fish, we realized that catching tuna was easier than we thought!  Alyssa said “no mas” because the fridge and freezer were getting full, but I was bored so I threw out the hand line again….and when I was pulling it in for the evening, another yellow fin tuna bit the lure and we had to make room for a third fish!!  While I was cleaning the third fish we saw a huge shark coming up behind the boat fast!  We tried to get a shot with the camera but only got his fin from a distance – it was enthralling!  We just enjoyed a massive serving of fresh ahi tuna poke with wasabi and soy – absolutely heaven!

Ellie handled the passage like a champ!  The only issues were the port jerry can rail almost went overboard, but we brought the cans in to the cockpit and I fixed it today once we were in port.  And the electric auto pilot was making an awful squeaking noise so we disassembled it under way and after a healthy dose of WD-40 we were squeak free for the remainder of the passage.

Alyssa and I got into the groove of the passage and were both sleeping and handling our shifts well.  We even made time for popcorn and movie/TV in the evening together.  We wanted to keep pressing on south but the wind was forecast to die for a few days so we decided instead of burning fuel we would put into Turtle Bay for the weekend and await the return of the NW wind.

Turtle Bay is little more than a sleepy fishing village with a fuel dock for yachts transitting the Baja Coast.  We will move over the the NE side of the bay tomorrowand check out town.  I’ll try and upload some pictures as well.  I am sending this via our Pactor modem over single side band radio broadcast from our location to an antenna in Watsonville, CA.

Thanks to Jessie (aka Slove) for uploading this message to the blog.  And thanks to Ian (harbor master in our home port) for all the great music we have been enjoying under way!

Have a great weekend everyone!

Cheers,
Lewis and Alyssa

November 15, 2013
Bahia San Bartolome, Turtle Bay, Baja California Sur, Mexico

We are Officially Cleared in to Mexico! Leaving Ensenada Tomorrow!

Hey everyone!  We sailed into Ensenada yesterday morning after motor-sailing through the night over glassy seas.  The sunrise was gorgeous, Alyssa snapped some great pics that I posted at the end of this post.  

Yesterday we spent the day exploring town and sampling all the amazing tacos pescados (fish tacos) while listening to live music on the waterfront.  We tracked down Werner and Kai on Princess del Mar and enjoyed a cold cerveza aboard and then shared a massive burrito con longosta (lobster burrito) before retiring for the night.

This morning we joined the three-car armada of sunburnt cruisers from the marina and headed over to the CIS (Immigration, customs, and port captain building.)  We went through the arduous process of clearing into Mexico.  Stand in line at immigration, fill out form, take form to bank, back to immigration for stamps and to hand in form, etc.  Then visit the Capitan de Puerto for a similar process and then to customs.  We were trying our best to follow the procedure and were then informed by the gentleman from the marina that we were to pay a one-time fee of $300 USD each!!  WTF?!  Uh, why?  He informed us that since we arrived on a Sunday and didn’t report to the CIS office (that was CLOSED ON SUNDAY), unfortunately we had to pay this fee.  I flat refused.  The other cruisers had been at the marina since last THURSDAY and they hadn’t reported to the CIS at all and they weren’t going to be charged this bribe/fee.  After the marina manager had another discussion with the immigrations official – that probably went something like: “the dumb American won’t pay that large of a bribe, we should go lower.” – he informed us that he was able to lower the fee to $50 US.  WOW, WHAT A DEAL!  Uh, still no bueno.  I wasn’t going to pay them more than the others had to pay.  I said we don’t have any more than was required to clear in.  After another discussion and more waiting, he said “it’s OK, no fee.”  Welcome to Mexico I guess :-/

After a few hours at the CIS, we had our passports stamped, and paid the fee, cleared in with the port captain, paid him a fee, received our temporary import permit for the boat, con fee, and cleared customs….sans fee.  Then we ventured downtown for some more awesome tacos pescados from a street vendor and found a supermarcado (grocery store) that was full of locals.

We did the best we could reading the spanish and loaded up with a months worth of provisions.  We took a taxi back to the marina and are loading the fridge.

We are planning to depart tomorrow morning and head down the baja peninsula.  We don’t have an exact itinerary, but south is the main idea!  We will likely stop in Bahia Tortugas, Bahia Santa Maria and Bahia Magdelena before rounding Cabo in a couple weeks.   

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