Saturday, October 31, 2015

A Quick Blow Down to Isla Coronados

Even though San Juanico rates as one of our favorite anchorages and is beautiful beyond reasonable description, we were getting antsie and wanted to move along to a different venue.  When the ham net was over around 8am this morning we jumped in the dinghy to say a short lived good bye to our friends anchored there with us knowing that we will run across them again soon enough.  After a little bit of tidying up the boat and getting ready to leave the protection of the bay, we drew up the anchor, rolled out the sails and headed east out of the bay and then turned southeast toward Isla Coronados which lays a short 23 miles away.

The wind was light to moderate for the first hour or so then picked up to 15-20+ knots coming from the NNW.  That left us to run dead downwind with the wind and swell.  We had a pretty good blow last night which left the seas a bit bumpy but the 2-4' swells were running with the wind southward so it really wasn't too bad.  Running dead downwind is not my favorite point of sail nor is it the fastest for us but it is FAR better than beating into it.  Complaining about going dead downwind would be like saying that your cookie is not soft enough.  It is still a damn cookie!  So enjoy it!
Reppin the 112 south of the border!

On the run down we had a full mainsail prevented out to the port side and a full genoa flying to the starboard.  Sailors call it running wing on wing.  If the wind is shifty it can be a bit tricky because you have to pay constant attention to keeping the wind as nearly directly behind you as possible.  If you don't, one of the two sails will back fill (get wind from the wrong side of the sail) and you will have a bit of a cluster until you correct your direction.  

As we rolled along we were dragging 4 lines with a variety of lures trying to attract some dinner aboard.  No luck.  Not even a strike.    Oh well, that is the way it goes.  Coronados offers a couple of anchorages, one for northerly wind protection and another for southerly and easterly.  By the time we got here it was blowing over 20 knots but as we tucked along the southern most side of the island the water was flat even though the wind continued to howl.  Two other boats are anchored here, one we have met and one not.  I'm sure we will change that later this evening.  

A quick note about Isla Coronados.  The island is an inactive volcano and approximately 2 miles long by 1 mile wide and sits just 6 miles north of the popular fishing town of Loreto.  Most of the shoreline is volcanic rock but here on the south end the rock has been ground down by the sea over hundreds of years providing a beautiful white sand bottom and a shoreline of scattered sand and rock.  It is, like most other places here, beautiful.  We plan to stay here for a couple of days until the wind subsides enough to pop over to Loreto to buy some supplies.  Not counting buying the shrimp up at Isla San Marcos, it will be the first pesos spent on provisioning since we left San Carlos.  I like that part. A lot!  No towns, no stores, no money spent.  A simple formula that suits us just fine.

Until next time.

SV Liahona
Bret and Marne

Friday, October 30, 2015

Waiting out the Norther

The wind decided to blow at 20 knots today from the North so we decided to hang for one more day in San Juanico to wait it out. The morning started with 4 sailboats in the anchorage. As the day continued and the wind progressed, 4 more boats came in seeking shelter. The captain is using the down time to "take care of business", pun intended. Since we launched the boat the forward head had not been put into service so today he became a plumber. He wears many hats on board and never ceases to amaze me.

The day started with another run up some dirt roads near the beach. At the top of the second hill is a small house and both days we have been greeted by 2 healer puppies about 4 months old. They are always happy to see us. Puppy kisses and tail wags make that my favorite part of the run. The people that live there are caretakers of the surrounding 3000 acres. They ride around on mules. I may just try to trade some stall cleaning duty for a trail ride. 

Returning to the boat we decided to roll up our sleeves and get to work. Bret started with polishing the BBQ. I spent some time below refinishing some weathered spots on the interior wood. Not wanting to give way to all work and no play, we kicked it to a couple episodes of Breaking Bad and munched on some Halloween candy. 

Tomorrow we plan to get the heck out of dodge and sail south to Isla Coronados. 

Ciao for now,

Marne and The Captain

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Running.... Thinking of Johnny Lotts

Today's post I am dedicating to my running pal back home, John Lotts.  Although we don't run every day and we don't typically run long, we do try to get out every other day or so and take a stroll through the cactus and briars of Baja California on dry dirt roads, trails or whatever is available.  Today we are in San Juanico where we have been for the last 3 days.  We had planned on leaving yesterday but decided to stay here to enjoy it's beauty and protection until after a big blow that is forecasted for Friday moves through.

After the ham net this morning we jumped in the dinghy and headed to the western most shore of the bay here in San Juanico.  After pulling the dinghy up on the beach we dried off our feet and dusted the sand off with a small hand towel that we keep in the dry box of the dink.  We headed inland on a wash/cow trail for a couple hundred yards until we found our way onto a dry and cobbley dirt road that ambles throughout the hills here on the outskirts of the bay.  

It is only 8am and it is already over 80 degrees and the humidity is around 65%.  However, there is a fresh breeze blowing so it doesn't feel as warm as the mercury says it is.  Because of the hurricanes of the last several weeks that have passed by dowsing the desert with rain, the desert is abloom with wildflowers on almost every form of cactus and thorned briar out there.  As you look from the bay into the hills, they are lush green.  Much different than the look of tan and brown, dry brush and rocks that normally adorn the hillsides.  

If you enjoy flat running, this is not the place for you.  You are either going up or down but not too often slogging along a flat.  As  we crested over the first hill we looked back toward the bay to see the Liahona and 3 other sailboats anchored in the crystal clear waters of the bay.  The sandy bottom where we are anchored casts a light aqua glow to the water.  We bounded down the back side of the hill and took in the views of San Basillio point as it stretches out to the southeast into the Sea of Cortez.  At the bottom of the hill we came across a small hacienda with what appeared to be a young man and his wife along with their burros, goats and dogs.  A "buenos dias" was exchanged and after asking if it was ok if we ran through we proceeded after receiving their kind and happy greetings.  Up the next hill we went.  It wasn't long, maybe 1/4 to 1/2 mile, but it was steep.  Like John's Peak steep.  Gasping for air as we approached the top we were rewarded with 360 degree views high above the anchorage. 

We stopped, mostly to catch our breath, but also to take in where we were.  Who gets to do this?  I thought of the many runners putting down miles in their own asphalt jungle.  Cars, street lights, houses, iPods and more.  None of that here.  It is remote, h and beautiful.  We appreciate where we are.  

We rolled up and down the hills and through the arroyos back to the beach where we took off our shoes, soaked our feet and legs in the sea and then headed back to the boat.  What a great way to start the day!  Here's to you would love it!

SV Liahona 
Bret and Marne

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Prime diving in San Juanico

As we sipped our morning coffee watching the sun rise over the Sea of Cortez we were acutely aware of how amazingly beautiful this area is and how blessed we are to be here.  After coffee I handled the duties as net controller for the Sonrisa Net this morning on the ham radio, which went well.  Besides handling the check-ins from the various boats around Baja and down along the Mexican coastline we also receive a detailed weather report which informed us that all it is expected to be fairly mild over the next several days.

Today just seemed like a lazy day so we did a few minor chores then set out in the dink for a snorkel around the point.  The water here in San Juanico  right now is crazy clear and a bath like 82 degrees!  The snorkeling was fabulous with plenty of sea life and the sun beams radiating downward to to rocks and reef below us.  A highlight of the dive was finding a sea turtle with his head stuffed between two rocks feeding in about 3' of water.  As I pointed him out to Marne he realized that something was amiss and pulled his head out of the hole and turned around to see what the ruckus was about.  I wanted to see if I could catch a free ride so as he turned around I grabbed a hold of his shell.  He wasn't really keen on the free ride idea and I lost my grip on him as soon as he kicked it in turbo mode to get the hay out of there.  Marne was about 8' behind me and she thought she might get turtle rammed as it sped past her only a foot or so away.  

After the dive we came back to the boat and I decided to take a quick swim under the boat which is anchored in about 20' of water.  When I got to the bottom I saw a familiar site and came up with two Chocolata calms.  It was a little deep for repetitive dives and digging in the sand for the clams so we moved to a little shallower water and began our search again.  After showing Marne once what to look for we were pulling up the rich, delicious, chocolate brown clams one after another.  Tonight they will hang in the net bag off the back of the boat to spit out all the sand and tomorrow we will look for a delicious way to enjoy them.  

After a visit or two with the campers on the beach and a visit from one of the other 3 boats here in San Juanico we are settled in to another peaceful evening.  Until next time.

SV Liahona
Bret and Marne

P.S.  John, you would have enjoyed being on our little dirt road/trail run this morning. We ambled along through the cactus and underbrush that is blooming with purple and pink flowers.  It wasn't fast but I was pretty sweet.  I told Marne how much you would love to run here, everyday a new trail or road and never really knowing what you are going to get into.  Pretty awesome.

P.S. Catherine.  Marne made mac and cheese with frozen peas.  I guess it is an Astell thing...

Monday, October 26, 2015

Peaceful sail down to San Juanico

Sharing some Halloween candy the cruiser way.
Sherri from SV Cake throwing, Marne catching.

Last night we spent a nice evening at Punto Santo Domingo which is at the head of the Bay of Conception.  The day was capped off with a rousing game of bocci ball on the beach, some amazing shrimp alfredo (made by my gourmet chef Marne) a spectacular sunset and then turning in around 9pm.  We arose just before first light this morning to get started on the long run down to San Juanico, one of our favorite anchorages.  It is about 45nm so at 5 knots that is about a 9 hour run.  For the first 4 hours we motor-sailed with very light winds.  As we rounded Punta Teresa, about 4 hours in, we turned off the diesel burner, dug the drifter (112 sail) out of the forward locker and let 'er fly.  We have enjoyed a beautiful, although not particularly fast, broad reach with the main and drifter putting down 3-5 knots with about 4-8 knots of apparent wind and nearly flat seas.  Super peaceful.  We are traveling with two other sailboats, Cake and Harmony.  They have both been motor-sailing all day so they are now almost in the anchorage and we are pure sailing along about 45 minutes or so behind them.

Friends Robert and Virginia from Harmony onboard sharing a meal.

Harmony caught a huge sierra early this morning so we will be getting together for some fish tacos later this evening.  Along the way we have seen a few dolphin, one live turtle and a couple of dead ones.  We are not sure what is going on with the dead turtles but to date we have seen 5 or 6 of them.  Could be a red tide or possibly due to shrimping in the area as they get in the nets.  Sad.  

All is well on board and we hope the same for all of you.  Ciao for now.

Bret and Marne
SV Liahona

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Message from the first mate.

Buenos Dias,

Today's post is being written by the first mate. The captain is at current flooding the bilge with sea water to clean and then pump out. I would have thought it CRAZY a month ago to open a hole in the bottom of the boat and let water fill the bilge! Bret just looked up and said, good news, the bilge pumps work faster than the water comes in. Once again the Liahona reassures us of her sea worthiness. A silver lining in everything. Yesterday was pretty mellow here. Bret and I started the day with a climb up the highest peak we could find, as the run the day before has his calf upset. I then paddled with the girls across the bay to the beach. The guys met us there and one of the girls lead us all in yoga. Thats right folks the captain does yoga.  Today we have a few small projects and then we will pull anchor and head to Santo Domingo. Its about an hour and 1/2 away. Of coarse that is subject to change as all things out here are. Great practice in remembering we are not in control. I am looking forward to San Juanico, but will miss the 4 month old puppy at Ana's restaurant on the beach. Chiquita is tiny tiny and is a good surrogate for Pierre. Bret is pleased that she is less yappy, and she has better breath. I guess I will close with that.

Love and Hugs,
SV Liahona
Marne and Bret

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Hurricane Patricia not a factor, whew!

Here in the protected waters of Playa Santispak in the Bay of Conception we are anchored with two other boats and enjoying some down time waiting for the norther to blow through and to see what Patricia is going to do.  Yesterday we all went in to Ana's Restaurant on the beach, had some chips, salsa and guacamole and watched the big screen on the developments of Hurricane Patricia as it struck land on the coast of Mexico near Chamela late yesterday afternoon.  Patty was a real beeatch packing sustained winds above 200 mph.  We are uncertain of the impact and devastation on the people of lower Mexico but are grateful that she has headed inland and has downgraded substantially, now only a tropical storm with winds in the 60 mph range as it heads towards Guadalajara and dissapating quickly.

Here in the bay we saw winds near 20 knots for most of the afternoon and night with gusts near 30 but all is well and this norther is predicted to calm later this afternoon. With that news and the dying of Patricia we are making plans to head a little farther south.  Most likely we will stay here today then move to the entrance of the Bay of Conception, Santo Domingo, tomorrow then on down to San Juanico on Monday.  I smell a lobster bbq coming on!  Last visit in San Juanico Nathan and I scored on two night dives putting almost 30 bugs in the freezer and on the barbie!  Speaking of food...Marne made here first home made pizza last night from scratch, making everything herself except for the dough.  Gracing the work of art was fresh garlic, tomatoes, poblano peppers, green olives, shitake mushrooms, chorizo salami, white cheese and an amazing, rich red sauce.  It was EXQUISITE! After the meal I was not happy with her because she caused me to seriously over eat!  Gonna have to swim a few extra times to the beach this morning to burn off those calories.

We have been enjoying runs on the beach and Marne has be joining with Virginia and Sherri on the other two boats for a daily paddleboard/women's pow wow.  Life is good in the cruising world!  We love you all and hope all is well back home.  Ciao for now.

SV Liahona
Bret and Marne

Friday, October 23, 2015

Waiting to see what Hurricane Patricia is going to do...

The anchorage in Santispak

After a great visit and overnight stay with Nathan down in Buenaventura we are back anchored down in Santispak.  I love this anchorage for it's great protection from almost every direction and beautiful sand bottom that holds on to the anchor like a commercial sized piece of industrial velcro.  Locally we are waiting out a short little norther that is bringing about 20 some knots of wind over the next few days.  Long term we are waiting to see what Hurricane Patricia is going to do.  More on that...

Hurricane Patricia has wound up tight and quickly strengthened to become the strongest hurricane on record for Pacific Mexico...that is saying something!  Yesterday it went from a Cat 3 hurricane to a Cat 5 (the highest level given for hurricanes).  It is packing sustained winds of 175 mph with gusts to 215 mph and bringing torrential (probably not a strong enough word) rain to the coastline of Mexico near the Manzanillo area.  It is expected to turn inland between Manzanillo and Puerto Vallarta and they are calling for flooding to be complete inundation in some cities and towns. The turning inland part is good news for us as we are far north and if it stays inland it will weaken and knock itself out.  Sometimes they bounce off of the mainland and continue north.  Something that we hope does not happen.  Either way we are keeping a close eye on it and have excellent weather reports every morning that all cruisers are paying strict attention to.  

This morning has been beautiful here in the Bay of Conception and Marne and I went for a nice run along the beach enjoying the beauty of the early morning sun as it glistens on the water and casts shadows on the back sides of the beautiful mountains that surround us.  All is well on board and we send much Mexican warmth and love north to all of you.

SV Liahona
Bret and Marne

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Hanging with Nathan at Playa Buenaventura

Yesterday we made our way down the Bay of Conception to Playa Buenaventura where Nathan lives.  When we got there and dropped the anchor we spotted a whale shark just off the bow in about 15' of water.  We immediately dropped the dinghy in the water, threw in some snorkeling gear and the GoPro and headed his direction.  Marne has never seen a whale shark before so I told her not to be shy and jump in.  The whale shark was a bit more skittish than normal but Marne jumped right in and swam over to him, reached out her hand placing it on his back and let him swim on by as her hand slipped over the length of him and off the back of his enormous tail.  At that point he dove down a little and we lost him.  It wasn't a very long encounter but Marne said it was one of the most amazing things she has ever experienced in her life.

Our time at the bar/restaurant with Nathan was awesome enjoying some great food and good company with our friends off of Harmony and also Cake, both other cruisers on sailboats.  It got pretty windy and choppy in the afternoon but we decided to stick it out and stay here in front of Nathan's place overnight then leave sometime later this afternoon headed back for Santispak farther north in the bay and much more protected from the strong north winds that are predicted over the next few days.

All is well onboard...until next time...

SV Liahona
Bret and Marne

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Quick jump down to Sto. Domingo...with Dorado!

A small but very tasty Dorado

We decided to hop on down to Bahia Conception yesterday from San Marcos.  As we headed out we rolled out the main, actually tried to roll out the main and got it jammed. Really jammed!  First time in 2 years that has happened.  So we sailed with headsail only for the 20 some miles south to the head of the Bay of Conception to an anchorage called Santo Domingo where we had our friends onboard the sailboat Harmony waiting for us.  The sail was near perfect, the only glitch was not having a mainsail in the 8-15 knots of wind coming off of our starboard beam.  With headsail only we moved along nicely at about 5-6 knots in a nearly flat sea.  Such an amazing day.  About 4 miles short of the anchorage we hooked into a small dorado which we landed.  It was maybe 4-5 lbs but made for an amazing fish taco dinner shared with our friends on Harmony.

This morning after a good night sleep and a clear head, Robert from Harmony, Ken from the sailboat Cake and I went up on deck to tackle the jammed mainsail problem. It was like magic.  After a mere 3 minutes or so it popped free and is working perfectly. As a sidenote, I spent over 3 hours messing with it yesterday with near zero success. We are so happy to have it all working well.

Right now we are heading the short 7 miles south to Santispak in the Bay of Conception.  It is a beautiful day and we are a pair of very happy cruisers today!  Hope all is well on land.  Until next time....

Monday, October 19, 2015

Isla San Marcos...aka Lobster Island

Day two here at Isla San Marcos but there are some moderate winds heading our way over the next couple of days so I think we will pull anchor this morning and enjoy a nice sail south 12nm to Punta Chivato where we will find good protection from the NW winds over the next day or two.

Yesterday was a very nice day here with no wind and about 88 degrees.  It has been a bit muggy lately, around 70-80% humidity but other than that we have no complaints.  We rigged up the new WindScoops over the forward hatches and they are delightful.  A windscoop is a spinnaker like sail that is about 5' tall by the width of the hatch and funnel a serious bit of wind down into the cabin.  Yesterday we took a peek into the lobster cave and saw several but they were smaller so we let them be to grow up some more.  We did get some great GoPro footage of a couple of them along with the ever present morray eels.  Hopefully we will get good enough interenet connection in the next week or two to upload a couple of those vids.

Last night we took out the Hooka rig, a dive tank with a 30' long hose, and did a little looking for more lobsters. Visibility was poor but I saw several smaller lobster and wound up taking two pretty nice ones that are now in the freezer waiting to fill the lobster cravings that will most certainly come up soon.

All is well onboard and hopefully this afternoon we will be securely anchored at Punta Chivato, just north of the town of Mulege.  Oh, by the way, we are LOVING the new windlass!  It is quiet, smooth and powerful.  

Ciao for now,

SV Liahona
Bret and Marne

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Launch day...FINALLY!

 It was a long, very hot, very humid week on dry dock preparing the boat for the upcoming cruising season.  An entire day was used just unloading the car with all of the parts, pieces, stocking supplies and provisions we brought down from the states.  Who would have thought that it would take an entire day to unload a 1991 Honda Civic?  Let's just say we did a pretty good job of using every inch of space in our trusty steed.  After the unloading was done we put a fresh coat of bottom paint on the boat, installed a brand new Lewmar windlass on the bow, two new deck hatches and generally organized, cleaned and re-commissioned the essentials in order to get 'er wet.

Thursday the 9th of October at 9am was the official time for the splash and things went off without a hitch.  The boat was loaded on the trailer and trucked down the road about a mile to the San Carlos Marina. Then she slowly rolled down into the water.  It is hard to describe the feeling of happiness once we were in, all systems checked and then motoring out of the marina and into the bay.  We dropped anchor in about 20' of water and have had huge smiles on our faces ever since.

Impressive Sonoran thunderstorm

Once in the water there have been plenty of project still to complete in order to be ready to make the crossing over to the Baja side of the Sea of Cortez.  In between some spectacular thunderstorms all of the running rigging had to come out of lockers and be properly put in place as well as raising and furling the sails.  We have worked on electronics, heads, furnishings as well as some nice homey decorations under the watchful eye of the first mate Marne.

First mate getting the jib up

At this point, we are only lacking one key component to be ready to head out for the season...the refridgeration.  After going in the water we turned it on and although it was working, it was well below par, working very hard to produce very little cold.  Monday we will tackle that project and are praying it is nothing major.  Once that is fixed we can go to the grocery store, buy provisions and be ready for a good weather window to make the crossing over to Isla San Marcos.

As cruising season is just getting under way here in Mexico, we have met up with several friends from previous seasons and are looking forward to running across their paths over the next several months as we head south down the Mexican coastline...indeed one of the very enjoyable things about being part of the very close knit cruising community.

Launch vid

Ciao for now,

SV Liahona
Bret and Marne