Sunday, April 29, 2012

Sea of Cortez, April 29, 2012

We stopped for one night along the western shore of Isla San Jose before heading further north.  What a gorgeous sight as we approached Puerto Los Gatos.  This bay is surrounded by craggy red rock hills and piles of large slabs of sandstone.  The sunset on our first night there was the most beautiful we've ever seen: bands of red, purple, blue -- the photo doesn't reveal the richness of the colors lighting up the sky, but at least we tried!  Needing provisions we reluctantly left Los Gatos yesterday, heading further north toward Loreto which has several stores.    Along the way we caught our first fish of our season!  It is a Mexican tunny.  Roy cleaned, filleted and grilled it in time for our dinner.  It has dark meat, not red like jack kreval, but is edible.  The plan is to cook the rest of the fish tonight and use it in salads and sandwiches.

Knowing we had one more stop to make before reaching Loreto, we headed for Candeleros Chico, a beautiful one-boat anchorage; this anchorage is no more than 1/8 of a mile wide.  As we were heading for the anchorage, another boat, a small trawler, had the same idea and reached it first.  We saw them look around, probably looking for where to drop their anchor, but  we wanted to get a  waypoint on our chart for another time that we might have first dibs.  As we entered the anchorage, the trawler motored out!  How lucky can we be -- first a fish and then a night in Candeleros Chico!  We spent the last two evenings watching a two part series lent to us from cruising friends: Death in Holy Orders by P.D. James, an amusing mystery.  During last night's viewing, a great burst of wind turned our boat around 180 degrees, and for the next several hours we had wind about 10 kts, gusting to 16 at times -- just the right atomosphere for watching a mystery!

We awoke this morning to see the sunrise in a window to the sea and also gorgeous reflectons on the mountains on the other side of our boat.

~~~ Marlene and Roy ~~_/) ~~

In the Sea of Cortez, finally!

It's about a week since our last entry -- I guess that means we've been pretty busy. We spent a few days in La Paz, shopping, eating out at one of our favorite restaurants, and visiting with friends. Last Friday we left the marina and sailed to Puerto Balandra, just north of La Paz. Several boats were already anchored when we pulled in, but by dusk all but ours and one other had departed. During the night another Coromuel wind blew at around 20 kts all night long, making for a restless night of sleep. Maybe those other boaters had advance notice of those typically unpredictable winds! In the morning we sailed almost all the way up to Ensenada Grande on Isla Partida. Four boats were anchored ahead of us, but by nightfall another four arrived. Yet another night of Coromuel winds with everyone waking up to see their boats heading 180 degrees from where they anchored.

Seeking to move further north to be out of the direct line of these nightly winds, we sailed up to the northern anchorage on Isla San Francisco on Sunday. Several boats were already anchored and many cruisers were sharing information about all the wildlife: one baby osprey (and its parents) nested in the rocks just above the anchorage, snorkeling and diving spots with angel fish and others. On Monday, we took a walk on the beach for a short while. Monday was very hot; we had all our shade covers up cooling down the boat from the 90 degree heat.

Tuesday the weather was much cooler. Nonetheless we had a remarkable treat: a sea turtle swam around Damiana for about an hour. Here's one of the shots. Our short video is spectacular; we'll try to upload the video on our web page during the summer update.

Then on Tuesday night we hosted a "pizza party," pretty much the same way that Bruce and Alene hosted one on Migration back in 2006! Cruisers from Spirit Quest, Jacaranda and Ponderosa came over to Damiana with an assortment of toppings. We provided the yeast dough (same recipe, Bruce andAlene!), the sauce and a few toppings. Then all the women made a pizza, all different. A side dish of sauteed zucchini and onions plus "no bake" cheesecake cupcakes rounded off the meal. You can tell when cruisers are having a good time -- the party wasn't over until 10 p.m., an hour past "cruiser bedtime," typically 9 p.m.

Wednesday has us slowly sailing again, heading north on the west side of Isla San Jose. Our big treat today was watching two whales passing us in the opposite direction, making way so quickly that we didn't have time to grab the camera. What a beautiful sight!

~~~ Marlene and Roy ~~_/) ~~

While at the islands we have no internet service. This message was written on Wednesday, April 25.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Adios Muertos, Hola La Paz

Today the weather was gorgeous, calm and warm.  We had spent several days at Muertos, enjoyed the scenery, visited with Mary and Jack on Oriana, did some cleaning, and essentially, waited for weather to calm down so we would have an easy passage to La Paz.  We motored :( all the way because of no wind and what little there was, was on the nose.  Nonetheless we opted to come into Costa Baja Marina to check it out.  We haven't been here in five years and were curious as to whether or not we'd consider leaving Damiana here instead of in Mazatlan for the summer.  Well, first of all, the scenery on the way here was eye candy.  We love the desert/water combination.  The folks at the marina office gave us a warm "welcome back," and we just plain feel good being here.  Of course, we intend to stay only as long as we need to do some shopping and then be on our way to the islands.  We've rented a car for tomorrow.  The marina office arranged it: someone will bring it to the parking lot here, come to our dock, we show them a driver's license, and when we return we just have to call the office and let them know that we're back.  Rent for the day, including insurance, is $50 -- sure beats having to take a taxi into town, going through the exhaustive paperwork, etc.  So tomorrow we'll have a chance to visit some of our favorite shopping spots and stop for a paleta.

~~~ Marlene and Roy ~~_/) ~~

skype: sfwoman
boat e-mail:

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Farewell, Don, we will miss you.

We learned last night that Don Anderson, weather guru to thousands of sailors for many years, passed away sometime during the last week. He provided comprehensive weather reports every day over single side band radio with incredible enthusiasm. We met Don in Summer 2006, spent several hours talking with him in his home about how in the world he could provide so much information to sailors not only in Mexico, but throughout the Pacific and beyond. He replied, "well, I get up at 3 a.m. and start downloading information from several sources (his website has an exhaustive list that he consulted), then I synthesize it, looking for consistencies AND inconsistencies, and then I review historical trends in places that might be heading into troublesome weather. This takes me about 3 hours, and then I start in broadcasting!" Don never wavered in his dedication to sailors. He will be missed by all of us.

~~~ Marlene and Roy ~~_/) ~~

skype: sfwoman
boat e-mail:

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Changing weather: changing plans

After a few more nice days in Mazatlan, socializing while letting the sprained foot rest, and noting a good weather window to cross the Sea of Cortez to the Baja, we departed Mazatlan on Monday, April 9.  We expected a 48 hour crossing, so leaving at 10 a.m. got us off to a good start.  Weather was mild for the first several hours, so mild that we didn't even raise sail.  With no wind, sails just flop around, making noise and also putting undue stress on the sails and rigging.  Late afternoon and early evening we jostled around a bit in slightly choppy waters, but nothing to complain about.  We raised the jib when we had about 7 kts of wind from the east.  Since we were heading NW, it gave us a little extra help.  On Tuesday we faced headwinds, but the water was so glassy that we had no complaints other than we had to use motors rather than both sails (jib was still up).  Tuesday evening was so calm that both us on watch charted "oily or flat seas" giving us peaceful three hour sleep shifts.  Around 10 p.m. wind picked up to 9 kts, alas on the nose, but seas were still "flat."  When we checked into the evening net we advised boats at the anchorage we were headed toward that our ETA was 4 to 5 a.m. and to please be sure to have their lights on.  Someone replied, "we have 20 kt winds here - so be careful!"

At 11 p.m. wind was now up to only 10 kts, but the sea was angry!  Short pounding swell turned Damiana into a bucking bronco!  This continued until around 2 a.m. Wednesday when the wind started increasing, first to 14, then 17 kts, still with pounding swell.   At most we were making 1-2 kts (per hour), never making it to the anchorage by 4 a.m.   At 4 a.m. we slowed the boat down by using only one motor, trying to give us a smoother ride.  By 5 a.m. we had 25 kts of wind on the nose, bare poles (we took down the jib), 4-6 foot waves.   We put up with this for another hour but by then knew it would be late afternoon at best before we could reach our destination.

So, we turned the boat downwind to Meurtos, a comfortable anchorage south of La Paz and by noon we were happily at anchor with several other boats also seeking refuge from the Corumel winds that were kicking up such a storm.  Funny thing about Corumels, they are unpredictable -- but they do occur in the southern part of the Baja peninsula and we always need to be prepared - and know where to go if you can't get where you want to go!

Even today, we saw 20 kts of wind here in the anchorage.  Hopefully we'll be able to get up to La Paz over the weekend.

~~~ Marlene and Roy ~~_/) ~~

skype: sfwoman
boat e-mail:

Friday, April 6, 2012

Marlene's got a screw loose!

As planned we arrived in Mazatlan on Wednesday.  We were greeted by John (Maestra), Terry and Patty (Mystique) and Ned (Frannie B) who helped Damiana tie up to the dock.  That evening we went with John and Gaye, along with Doug and his new girlfriend at the new Italian restaurant on the Isla here in the marina.  Pasta, 2 for 1 was excellent, so was the salad.

We  made plans on Thursday to celebrate Carol's birthday (Frannie B).  After John took Roy to Pemex twice to fill diesel jugs, he then took us shopping at Mega and then to Panama (fantastic bakery) where we bought a flan/chocolate cake for the birthday celebration.  We got home in just enough time to get dressed to go out to dinner.  Uh oh --- as I was getting off the boat I twisted my foot, the same one with THE ANKLE and was in instant huge pain.  Nonetheless, not one to miss the party, I shuffled along, trying to hide my huge pain, and suggested that we get a cab rather than try to manage the bus.  We went to Topolo, a lovely restaurant in the historic district and had a spectacular dinner.  Andy and Debra from Murar's Dream joined the party.  The restaurant graciously accepted that we brought dessert, even installed and lit the candles and sang Happy Birthday as they brought the cake to our table.

As the night progressed, so did the swelling.  Roy worried that maybe I had a fracture.  Upon crashing on the salon seat where I spent the night, he made an ice pack for me and we tried to get some sleep.  First thing on the morning net, Roy asked about where we could go to get an x-ray.  John hopped right up to the occasion and offered to drive us.  Within 15 minutes of arriving at the hospital I had a series of x-rays (total cost 200 pesos -- approximately $16 U.S.) with the good news that there was no fracture.  But the x-ray revealed that I have a broken screw from the ankle repair of 2008 along with another screw that appears to be loose.  So when I get back to Santa Maria we'll look into whether or not they should be extracted.

Our passage to La Paz has been delayed -- we hope to cross the Sea of Cortez sometime next week.

~~~ Marlene ~~_/) ~~

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

On our way to Mazatlan

After a week in La Cruz we finally are on our way to Mazatlan, then off to the islands of the Sea of Cortez for a month or more before our cruising season comes to an end.  There are several boats in the fleet today, all having exited Banderas Bay with the same destination as us.  Weather is calm; everyone is motoring at present.  We expect to arrive in Mazatlan tomorrow, late afternoon.

~~~ Marlene ~~_/) ~~

skype: sfwoman
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