Sunday, July 10, 2016

SAILING TO HAWAII


Pacific Cup Boat Gather at Richmond Yacht Club
I wasn't planning to sail to Hawaii when I left Mexico.  I was just going to stop in Los Angeles for a few days to visit friends and then head back to the Bay Area.  But I went out to lunch with some friends and one of their friends who was planning to do the Pacific Cup race from San Francisco to Hawaii.  She and I talked for a half an hour or so and then she turned to me and said, "Do you want to do the Pacific Cup?"  Crossing at least part of the Pacific was on my to do list for the year.  I had failed to find a ride for the Pacific Puddle Jump, so I didn't hesitate for a moment.  My answer was a resounding, "Yes!"

My ride for the race will be the C&C 40, Aeriagnie owned by Cecile Schwedes.  Rounding out the crew are Scott Lovell and Ben Hagerger of Seattle.  The start of the race is July 11, 2016.  We anticipate that it will take us a couple of weeks to get to Kaneohe Bay on Oahu, give or take a couple of days.  I will not be able to post to this blog while underway, but I will be writing and taking pictures and you can expect a post when we get to Hawaii.  Meanwhile, you can check out Aeriagnie's blog at www.sailblogs.com/member/aeriagnie.  You can also track our progress once we are underway
Temporary Sail Cover
at www.pcup.org/track.html.

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

BAHIA CONCEPCION TO GUAYMAS

May 20, 2016

Passing Mulege
Don and I had been looking forward to seeing John’s reaction to Geary’s 8:00 AM bagpipe rendition of Amazing Grace, but it was quieter than usual and John didn’t stir until the weather report came across the VHF radio.  I got up and made coffee.  The combination of lumpy water and cool wind discouraged me from swimming.  We sat blearily in the cockpit until Don decided it was time to hit the road.  We motored over to Playa Coyote to say goodbye to John and Julie on Myla and then headed out past Isla Coyote and south of Isla Blanca into the main body of the bay.  We turned north and passed carefully over the shallow water off Punta Arena.  The wind was favorable, so we shut off the motor and sailed up the bay, past Mulege, and back out into the Sea.  We were making six knots with about twelve knots of wind on our quarter.  It felt glorious to be sailing in such perfect conditions.

Approaching Punta Chivato
A couple of hours of pleasant sailing brought us to Punta Chivato where we had planned to anchor.  Unfortunately, Punta Chivato didn’t offer much shelter from an east wind.  The wind wasn’t blowing hard enough to make anchoring dangerous, but we were rolling heavily.

videoWe were hungry, so I assembled tostadas and we ate lunch.  Then we settled down to read, relax, nap, and write as our whims dictated, all the while trying to determine if conditions were going to improve or deteriorate and send us scuttling around to the other side of the point. As dinnertime approached, it became apparent that I would not be able to cook with the boat rolling to the degree that it was.  We pulled up the anchor and motored through three to four foot seas around to the north side of Punta Chivato.  Just before we arrived, the wind dropped and then commenced to blow from the north east.  We were no better off than we had been on the other side.  We dropped the anchor and sat, staring at each other and waiting for the wind to abate as the sun sank lower and lower.  Finally, we agreed that it would be worthwhile to set a stern anchor to keep us pointed into the swell.


North Side of Punta Chivato
Setting the stern anchor involved hauling copious quantities of buckets, hoses, lines, and fenders out of the starboard lazarette in order to reach the second anchor which, being heavy, was stored at the bottom.  The debris completely covered the sole of the cockpit, rendering driving and dropping the stern anchor more difficult than usual.  We were balancing on small, pitching spots while attempting to concentrate hard enough to keep the anchor rode out of the propeller.  Finally, we dropped the stern anchor and motored forward to the extent of its anchor rode.  Then we dropped the main anchor and backed down towards the stern hook, carefully taking up the slack as we went.  Our resulting position was well enough aligned with the swell that we were able to barbecue chicken while I used the pressure cooker to make mashed potatoes and whipped up a tomato and cucumber salad.  It was 21:00 before we ate dinner and none of us stayed awake long once the dishes were washed and put away.

May 21, 2016

Transiting the Craig Channel
It was a good thing we had gone to sleep early because the wind changed back to the southeast in the middle of the night and by 3:00 I had to get up and secure the crockery, which was rattling noisily in its rack.  We would have been better off without the stern anchor at that point, but it never occurred to my sleepy brain to let out the stern line as Don did when he got up several hours later.

Gypsum Mine of Isla San Marcos
We weren’t comfortable where we were, so we left by 8:45 and motored over flat seas north to the Craig Channel, a shallow strip of water between the Baja Peninsula and the southern tip of Isla San Marcos.  Depths dipped below thirty feet throughout the channel and, though that was expected, I was relieved when the bottom dropped away on the other side and we were able to turn and head directly for Sweet Pea Cove on Isla San Marcos.  On the way, we passed a large gypsum mine where a big bulk carrier was being loaded.  Two more were lurking nearby.  After seeing no commercial shipping since La Paz, it suddenly seemed quite crowded.

Coming into Sweet Pea Cove
We stopped at Sweet Pea Cove for eggs scrambled with tomatoes, peppers, and onions and fresh tortillas.  It was quite warm and we swam in the rather chilly (after the 80 degree water in Concepcion Bay) water with a strong current running north.  From Sweet Pea, we had another fabulous sail all the way to Santa Rosalia.  We saw a small, shiny, black whale that we took to be an orca just as we were leaving Sweet Pea, but he refused to pose for a photograph.

The Marina at Santa Rosalia
Santa Rosalia had a man made harbor surrounded by a tall sea wall.  It once held two marinas, but the older one was wiped out by the last hurricane.  All that remained was the new Fonatur dock built in 2006 that had room for about a dozen boats.  It was only half occupied and we easily found a slip.  It was also possible to anchor on the far side of the harbor, near where the old marina was once located.  One wrecked boat remained on shore and another poked its bow about water in the center of the harbor.

Ferry Dock in Santa Rosalia at Sunset
It was very warm, so we lounged around the boat until the sun dipped towards the horizon.  I caught up on the sleep I had lost at Punta Chivato.  Hunger eventually drove us to leave the boat and walk up to downtown Santa Rosalia.  I had been craving carnitas since we arrived at the carnitas restaurant in Sayulita after closing time five weeks before. La Huasteca was advertising carnitas, so I prevailed upon Don and John to go there for dinner.  Unfortunately, they were out of carnitas (and scallops and lobster), so I had to settle for garlic shrimp.  We were all tired, so we left our exploring for the next day and returned to the boat where John and I were soon asleep.

May 22, 2016

Santa Rosalia to Guaymas Ferry at Dawn
I was awakened before dawn by a strong wind flapping the bimini extension, which had been rolled back to reveal the stars.  I got up to secure that and heard the ferry to Guaymas blowing its horn as it approached the dock.  I snapped a few pictures of the dawn and went back to sleep for a couple of hours.

When I awoke again about 7:45, I got up and went to shore to shower and do my laundry.  I returned to the boat about 10:00.  Don was still sleeping, but I made coffee and John and I drank coffee and read until Don stirred.  Just after noon, we decided to go into town for breakfast.  Don complained that one of his flip flops was missing and blamed a dog that had followed our boat neighbors home the night before.  However, when I went to put on my Teva sandals it became apparent that something more sinister was at work because someone had cut very neatly through the ankle straps of both shoes.

Palacio Municipal in Santa Rosalia
We walked up into Santa Rosalia and explored the downtown area.  Santa Rosalia was developed by the French copper mining company El Boleo.  They built the wooden houses and shops which seemed so out of place in Baja.  The Palacio Municipal looked like nothing so much as a large train station.  It was even painted in the same colors as the depot in my home port of Benicia.  We passed the Iglesia Santa Barbara, a church built of steel beams and cast iron plates by Gustav Eiffel in 1884.  It was exhibited at the Paris Exposition of 1889 and then purchased by the director of El Boleo and shipped to Santa Rosalia.

We ate brunch at El Muelle and then bought a
The Iglesia Santa Barbara by Eiffel
few provisions at the grocery store.  We skipped the famous Panaderia El Boleo where the classic “bolillo” (a rather French looking sandwich roll) was developed.
Back at the boat, Don did laundry while John lounged in the cockpit and I worked on my blog.  We weren’t very hungry after our big lunch, so we put off going into town to get dinner until nearly 21:00.  Finally, we walked into town and split a pizza.  It was a quiet Sunday night in Santa Rosalia and we couldn’t find an open ice cream store, so we headed back to the boat and got ready to leave. 
El Boleo Bakery

At 23:37 we cast off the lines and set off to make the crossing to Guaymas.  There was a good breeze, so we put up the sails and turned off the motor.  The moon was full and we could see the lights of Santa Rosalia behind us.  We couldn’t have asked for a nicer evening.











May 23, 2016

Dawn Crossing the Sea
I had the midnight to 2:00 watch.  The wind quit towards the end of my watch and I had to roll up the jib and continue under motor.  By the time Jon came on at 2:00, we could see the outline of Isla Tortuga in the distance.  We had three to four foot swells, which made sleeping difficult.  John called me back on deck about 3:00 to put the jib back out because the wind had increased to twelve knots.  I was still awake, so was glad to shut the motor off, thinking it might be easier to sleep without the engine noise.  Not!  I lay there all night, monitoring our position on the GPS and keeping an eye on the wind speed.

Cabo Haro
The sun was already rising by the time I came back on at 6:00.  We were still proceeding happily at over five knots under sail.  About 7:30, the wind started to drop.  I tried to roll up the jib, but the furling line was so encrusted with salt that it wouldn’t budge.  We were still moving faster than four knots and had made good time all night, so I decided to wait until John got up to furl the jib.  By the time Jon came up at 8:00, the wind was back up to ten knots and we continued sailing all the way to Guaymas.

Cactus Covered Island
I tried to sleep for the rest of the morning, but only managed a couple of short naps.  I got up again at noon and came out to witness rounding Cabo Haro.  We cleared the cape and turned up into the bay where Guaymas is located.  Several large ships were anchored in the outer harbor.  We continued up the bay and rounded an island covered in so many cactus that it appeared to be a pine forest.  Behind the island, we could see the city of Guaymas, the marina, and the forest of masts in the boat yard where we would be hauling out.

Doney's Loncheria
We were hot and tired when we arrived, so we napped and showered and didn’t try to do much that afternoon.  We walked into town for an early dinner at Doney’s Loncheria.  Then we took a walk through downtown Guaymas.  A number of fine old buildings were in stages of advanced disrepair, giving the town the appearance of decay, although it was bustling.  We walked until dark and then stopped for ice cream before returning to the boat.  I couldn’t even stay awake long enough to finish one drink.  I tried to read, but fell asleep in my clothes.









Guaymas Appeared to Have Seen Better Days
May 24, 2016

Guaymas Marina
Our mission for the day was to prepare Comet to be hauled out at the Marina Seca (dry marina) where she was being stored for the summer.  The desert sun is quite hard on equipment and there is always the danger of items disappearing from unattended boats.  We needed to remove all the sails and canvas, as well as the barbecue, propane tanks, autopilot, and safety equipment.  The dinghy had to be deflated and stowed in its protective cover.  All the lines were brought forward and bundled together where they could be wrapped in a tarp to protect them from the sun.  Don and I started by removing and folding the sails while John emptied the water containers and dosed them with chlorine to prevent algae from growing in them.  Once the sails and dinghy were off the boat, we rinsed the salt out of everything.  It was amazing how rigid the lines had become.  They were completely encrusted with salt.  Even a thorough rinsing did not completely restore their flexibility.  They would require a good washing with soap and fabric softener.

View of Guaymas from Comet
After we worked up an appetite, I made bacon and eggs with warm tortillas.  We tried to find a rental car to drive to the border, but were unable to find one even to use while we were in Guaymas.  After brunch, John and I set off to the bus station to buy bus tickets to Nogales where we would cross the border and pick up a one way rental car on the other side.  We walked up the main street for a few blocks but, seeing only buses heading the other direction, eventually determined that outbound buses used the next street over.  We finally caught a bus and had no trouble riding it to the Tufesa bus terminal.  Our tickets cost 360 pesos or about $23 for the six hour ride to Nogales, Sonora.  After buying our tickets, we visited three auto parts stores looking for a biocide diesel additive, but finally had to admit defeat.  We were hot and thirsty and couldn’t find anywhere to buy a drink, so we hopped back on a bus and rode it downtown where we found an Oxxo for cold bottled water.

At the boat, Don was just finishing scrubbing down the dinghy.  We spent the remainder of the day wrapping scraps of sunbrella around the instruments, furler, blocks, and other exposed plastic parts.
As evening came, we barbecued a big slab of marinated arrachera and ate it with beans, tortillas, and salad.  Guaymas didn’t offer much in the way of nightlife, but we did take a walk uptown to explore and get some ice cream for dessert.  John fell asleep early and I wasn’t far behind him.

May 25, 2016

Marina Seca from Afar
I got everybody up early on haul out day.  For once, we ate breakfast before we got started.  I cooked the last of the bacon, eggs, and tortillas and then gave the remainder of our fresh food to the fellow next door.  He was quite glad to receive it as he was down to beans because he was hauling out, himself, in a few days and didn’t want to buy groceries.  We stripped the dodger and bimini canvas off and removed the remaining equipment from the cockpit area.  We packed our bags, cleaned the interior, and set out roach bait to discourage infestation in Don’s absence.  I wrapped up the lines as best I could.  By noon, we were ready to motor across the bay at Guaymas to Gabriel’s marina seca where we had an appointment to haul out at 13:00.  The bay was rather shallow and our haul out time was set to coincide with high tide. 

Pink Sandstone Island

The yard was tucked behind an island which looked like the Disneyland version of desert with pink boulders and cactus.  We had been told to look for a large white buoy, beyond which we would see a series of small buoys leading to the travel lift.  We looked and looked for the white buoy, but had located the small ones before we noticed it tied to a severely listing shrimper.  We couldn’t raise anyone on the radio or the telephone, so we eased the boat into the ways and tied it up there while Don went in search of the haul out crew who must have been at lunch.
Comet out of the Water


The Ways at Marina Seca


video

Despite a slow start, the guys did a very careful job of securing Comet in the slings.  It was the policy of the yard to send a diver down to inspect their placement before beginning the lift.  It took quite a while, but we were happy to wait, although it was blistering hot in the yard and we were glad of the bottle of mineral water I had grabbed off the boat as we left.  They were equally careful while blocking the boat, using four stands on each side and one each in front and back and chaining opposing stands together to prevent them from slipping.  When Comet was secure, we were able to remove the wheel and stash the jerry cans and outboard motor below.  Don went to the office to take care of the paperwork and call a taxi while I lowered the heavy bags to the ground with a halyard.  The taxi beat Don back to the boat and we were soon wedged into a Nissan Sentra with all our gear for the short trip to Hotel San Enrique where we spent our last night in Mexico.

Mexican Plumbing is Always Entertaining
John and Don shared a room for 520 pesos and I had one to myself for 450.  Hotel San Enrique was nothing fancy, but it was clean and there was hot water in the shower.  It seemed strange and rather lonely to have all that space to myself.  The mattress was the usual Mexican torture device, but I didn’t dare open my big duffle bag to remove my foam pad for fear I would never get it closed again.  Shortly after we arrived, we reconvened to go out for dinner.  John, being the wild and crazy guy that he was, wanted to go somewhere with a little action.  Guaymas, at least downtown, was not geared towards partying.  Since it was our last night in Mexico, we decided to spend 200 pesos ($13) to take a taxi to San Carlos.  We stopped at Los Arbolitos, a nice upstairs restaurant with a water view.  We had margaritas and shrimp stuffed with cheese and wrapped in bacon while watching the sun set.
View from San Carlos

Unfortunately, even in San Carlos things were pretty slow.  We were among the last customers to leave the restaurant and, though they had called us a taxi, it never arrived.  The employees had left, but we were still standing by the side of the road, 26 kilometers from our hotel.  Finally, three Mexican fellows in a nice minivan offered to take us with them back to Guaymas.  They were headed that way, anyway.  They were very friendly and we had a nice conversation on the way back.  We were very happy to get home and I gave the driver the taxi fare for his trouble.

May 26, 2016

Desert Near Guaymas


It Got Greener as We Traveled North
John and I got up early to have time to eat breakfast in the hotel restaurant before we left for the bus.  The taxi picked us up at 8:00 and we were at the bus station by 8:15.  The bus was on time and we left at 8:50 for the ride across the desert to Nogales.  At first, we saw lots of sand and cactus, but the scenery grew gradually greener as we approached the border.  Cactus gave way to palo verde trees and shrubs until we were glimpsing cottonwoods in the wetter areas.  Our bus was supposed to arrive in Nogales at 14:15, but it was closer to 15:00 by the time we arrived.  We easily got a taxi to take us to the border where we walked through a gate (the first one had a bypass for those of us with big bags), along a passageway, and through another revolving gate of the sort with the interlocking metal bars inimical to carts or big bags.  Each of us somehow managed to get through with lots of pushing and squeezing and annoying our fellow travelers.  Passport control was quite backed up.  We waited for quite some time before we were finally admitted, but didn’t have any real difficulty. 

On the other side, everyone was still speaking Spanish and it still felt like Mexico.  We quickly found a taxi to take us to the rental car agency where things finally started to feel American.  We needed a full sized car and we found ourselves loading into a big, black Dodge Charger.  Not having eaten since early in the day, our first stop was a disappointing meal at Carl’s Jr.  In cholesterol comas, we headed west for Southern California and home.
Sunset Near Phoenix


Saturday, June 4, 2016

BAHIA CONCEPCION

May 14, 2016

I awoke early to the slapping sound of dozens of rays hurling themselves out of the water in vain attempts at flight.  Each short flight ended in a belly flop that sounded like a gunshot.  They kept it up all morning.  There was just no sleeping, so I got up to watch.

video

Downtown Mulege
We were out of everything and needed to use the internet, so we motored across the bay to Mulege, which took about an hour.  Mulege is not a protected anchorage, but there was no wind, so we felt comfortable leaving the boat for a few hours.  Our guidebook said to land by the port captain’s office and we figured we could check in at the same time.  We rode the dinghy around the point and up into the estuary, but couldn’t find the port captain.  We asked some fishermen who told us it had been closed for some time.  The abandoned looking building on the spit where we anchored had been the port captain’s office at one time.  We took the dinghy back around to the outside and landed it on the rocky beach in front of the boat where it was not visible unless you were right on top of it.  It was kind of a deserted spot and we were slightly uncomfortable leaving it so close to a town with no one watching it.  We had even locked the boat for the first time since leaving La Cruz.

Las Casitas Restaurant
We had barely begun the 1.5 mile walk into the center of town when a friendly fellow named Paco offered us a ride in his PT Cruiser.  He let us off at Las Casitas Hotel and Restaurant, a pleasant spot off the main plaza.  We had lunch in the restaurant and were surprised to find it completely empty.  Indeed the town was largely deserted.  We asked the waitress why it was so slow and she indicated that it had started to get hot.  We were starting to get the message that the tourist season in the Sea of Cortez had ended.  It was definitely hot.  We had a very reasonable and tasty lunch.  I was hungry upon arrival, but could only eat half of my tostada.  It was huge!

Even Mexicans Need Their Sriracha
The town of Mulege sprang up around an oasis where the Rio Santa Rosalia runs into Bahia Concepcion.  The Spanish built a mission there.  It was a pretty spot with palm trees lining the river.  After lunch, we walked a couple of blocks to the Mini Super Ayleth where we did our grocery shopping.  They had a decent selection for a small store, although we failed to find any desirable lettuce.  It was a relief to resupply so that we could stop rationing virtually everything.  When we had last shopped in Loreto, we planned to make another trip before we left and then we never did.  We were out of eggs, fresh meat, produce, and rum, although we never quite ran out of beer.

After we stocked up, we were too laden to walk back to the beach in the rather oppressive heat.  A taxi driver had approached us on the plaza when we arrived but, of course, he was nowhere to be found when we wanted a ride back to the boat.  I stayed with the groceries while Don went in search of the taxi.  We eventually had to have the hotel call him.  It was siesta time.

Sunset from Santo Domingo
Our dinghy was fortunately still there when we returned.  It was 16:00 by the time we got back to the boat.  Margaritas on empty stomachs, followed by a big lunch on a hot day had sapped our energy.  We had planned to move on to Playa Santispac, but couldn’t face an extra hour of motoring.  We returned to Santo Domingo for the night.  It was hot and we were satiated, so we skipped dinner and lounged through the evening.  The sky was cloudy and the sunset was extraordinary, something we mostly missed with the sun setting over the land.  When it grew dark, I went below to write.  The rays continued jumping.  After I had gone to bed, Don got me up to watch them because they were leaping right next to the boat.

May 15, 2016

The rays were quiet, for once, so we slept in a bit.  I got up and dived into the water, which was pleasantly warm.  After a dozen laps around the boat, I got out and took a shower.  By 9:00 in the morning, the water in the sun shower was already warm.  A warm breeze was blowing and, for once, I could sit in the sun and dry off without clutching my thin towel around me to keep from shivering.
We decided to make bacon and goat cheese omelets for breakfast but, after I had started the bacon, we discovered that we had lost the dozen eggs we purchased in Mulege somewhere between the store and the boat.  I changed horses in midstream and made bacon and goat cheese quesadillas instead. 

After breakfast, Don called our friend, John, who had been considering coming to meet us.  We had cell service in Santo Domingo, but wouldn’t once we left, so we needed to solidify our plans before moving on. John confirmed that he wanted to meet us on the 19th. He would fly into Loreto and take a bus to Mulege unless he could convince the driver to stop at one of the beaches along the way, which we had heard was sometimes possible.  Our taxi driver in Mulege had told us that the airport taxis charged $200 to come to Mulege (about a 2 hour drive), although the Mulege taxi would charge only $100 to get back.

Shells on the Beach at Santo Domingo
After fixing our plans with John, we were free to leave Santo Domingo, but first we went for a walk on shore.  The beach was cluttered with a staggering number of beautiful shells.  When we returned, we pulled up the anchor and headed south down the long, narrow bay.  The water on the course suggested by our Navionics program was quite shallow.  The bottom was white sand and the water pale blue green.  We could see dark patches that represented groups of rays or, once, a pod of large dolphins that came to play with us even though we were motoring.  Just when the depth rose to 14 feet and we started to fear we were being led astray, the bottom fell away and we were able to turn the corner and cut between Isla Pitahaya and Punta Piedrita to tuck into the cove containing Playa Santispac.  We anchored in 18 feet of pale blue water off Ana’s Restaurant.
Ana's Restaurant


We arrived at mid-afternoon and lounged on the boat until 17:00 when we went ashore for dinner.  Playa Santispac consisted of a nice beach littered with palapas for rent and backed by a large sand lot where RVs could camp.  There were a few nice homes on the eastern shore and a couple of ramshackle ones on the inland side.  A few trailers were installed in semi-permanent settings here and there.  It looked like there would have been quite a community during the season, but the campground was mostly empty.  We walked to the western end of the beach and back before stopping at Ana’s for beer and dinner.  A few Mexicans were scattered around the television, watching a playoff soccer game between the Chivas (Guadalajara) and America (Mexico City.)  A couple of gringos were using the slow and unpredictable internet.  Lucy, a tiny Chihuahua, wandered from table to table or flopped in the shade by the door.  It was hot.
Palapas for Rent

We both had a couple of beers and excellent shrimp burritos for dinner.  According to the guidebook, there was once a store attached to the restaurant, but the building was severely damaged by Hurricane Odile in 2014 and the shop had not yet recovered.  They sold drinks and a small selection of snack foods, but nothing in the way of groceries.  We were disappointed that we could not replace our missing eggs.

After dinner, we strolled over to Armando’s, the other restaurant on the beach, for margaritas.  One was plenty for me, as they did not stint on the alcohol.  On our way back, we heard someone hailing, “Hey, cruiser couple.”  They were a pair of former cruisers who had moved ashore to Todos Santos and were on a camping trip with their new RV enroute to a grandchild’s graduation.  We chatted with them for a few minutes and then visited with an international group of twenty somethings who were traveling in a fifth wheel purchased in San Francisco.  Some of them had been traveling for two years. I marveled at that because, when I was that age, I was consumed with my career and trying to buy a house.  I would never have been able to travel for years, nor would my family have tolerated it.  I was nearly thirty before I ever left the country and then it was for less than a week.  Of course, I was making up for my late start.
Playa Santispac
May 16, 2016

I awoke to a strong wind from the south, which put us in shallow water on a lee shore.  I got up at 9:00 and dived in the water, swimming thirteen laps around the boat despite big swells smacking me in the face periodically.  The water was heavenly and the shower water warm, but the wind, which had increased in velocity, made it a bit chilly to sit in a wet swimsuit and I feared the long hair of my braid would be hopelessly tangled if I remained outside for long.  I dried as quickly as I could and scurried below.

Don was up by this time and, after considering the alternatives, decided that we should re-anchor in deeper water in the slight protection of Punta Piedrita.  It got a bit exciting when first the usually reliable engine hesitated to start and then when it took several long moments for the bow to come through the wind once the hook was up.  It always made me nervous to gun the motor in shallow water, but there was no other option and she eventually came around before we hit anything.  We relocated and, feeling much more secure with 180 feet of chain out in 30 feet of water, took the dinghy back to Ana’s for breakfast.

Don's Conversation Partners
After breakfast, we went for a walk over by the homes on the eastern shore and across Punta Piedrita to the bay side where there were more shelters available for campers.  By this time (13:30) it was getting hot, so we returned to the boat to read, write, and nap away the warm afternoon.  Two gulls decided to take their siestas perched on our dinghy and Don carried on a lively conversation with them as they squawked and cackled at him.
Just as we were contemplating hauling up the anchor and moving over to Playa Coyote, our friends, John and Julie from Myla, arrived.  We thought it would be rather rude to run away as soon as they arrived, so we decided to stay put.  Soon, we were invited over to their boat for cocktails.  We had ice and guacamole.  They had chips and alcohol.  We had all the ingredients for a party.  John and Julie had a guitar and we took turns playing.  We had a great time.  It was well past dark by the time we got back to our boat, but I was hungry.  We barbecued some lovely thick pork chops we had bought in Mulege and ate them with beans and a mango jicama salad.

May 17, 2016

Playa Coyote
I got up early and swam fourteen laps around the boat while the seas were still flat calm.  When Don got up, we went to shore to dump garbage, use the internet and get breakfast.  It was Tuesday and both Ana’s and Armando’s were closed.  We went back to the boat and, after conferring with Myla, decided to move over to Playa Coyote, a cove about 2.5 miles across Bahia Coyote.  Bahia Coyote is a smaller bay off the western shore of Bahia Concepcion.  It has several islands in it and is ringed with small anchorages and various forms of vacation homes.  Some detached rocks poked up a foot or two above the water in the center, surrounded by light blue shoal water.  Playa Coyote had a Mini Super and a Myla was not among them.  We thought we could see them in El Burro Cove.  John and I had plans to play guitar that evening, so we motored back over there so as to be close.
Rocks in Bahia Coyote
number of substantial houses.  There were several boats anchored there, but

El Burro Cove is famous as the location of Geary, the fellow who provides daily weather forecasts for the entire Pacific coast of Mexico and the Sea of Cortez.  We could see his antenna topped palapa a dozen feet from the waterline.  We dropped anchor in nineteen feet of water over white sand in front of Geary’s place.
Geary's Place


Don and I were eager to find some Wi-fi because we needed to communicate with our friend, John, who was joining us soon thereafter.  We took the dinghy in to Bertha’s restaurant where they had good seafood and very slow satellite internet.  We ate ceviche and fish tacos and drank beer until about 19:30.  Stopping by Myla on the way back, we all agreed to put off the jam session until the following night.
Bertha's Restaurant
















May 18, 2016

We were just starting to stir when we suddenly heard a bagpipe rendition of Amazing Grace emanating from shore.  Apparently, Geary has played that recording every morning for many years.  Once the music ended, the weather report started up on VHF channel 22.  We drank our coffee and listened to the weather report.

Posada Concepcion
We had plans to climb to the top of a peak overlooking the bay with John and Julie that morning at 9:00.  We picked them up and all went ashore in our dinghy.  Supposedly, the trail began somewhere behind Bertha’s restaurant.  Though we could see white painted trail markers on the hillside, we never did find the beginning of the trail.  There were supposed to be petroglyphs near the trailhead and we never found those, either.  We did, however, eventually connect with the steep, rocky trail.  We climbed uphill for a couple of
El Burro Cove from above
miles to the top of a ridge where we could see back over towards Posada Concepcion and Playa Santispac.  I scrambled up the summit block to take a panoramic picture of the entire Bahia Coyote.  We discovered a Geo cache on top of the ridge, but couldn’t register our presence in the logbook because someone had taken the pen.  It occurred to me that hunting Geo caches could be a good occupation for cruisers, since we all have GPS devices.
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Panoramic View of Bahia Coyote
Don Dwarfed by Cardon Cactus
Our descent was much more rapid than the climb up. We had a chance to admire the desert flora.  Huge cardon cactus dwarfed us puny humans.  Once we made it back to the road level, we walked 500 meters south along Highway 1 to Bertha’s tienda where we bought cold drinks, tortillas, and eggs.  We were served by Bertha herself, who no longer operates the restaurant.  The Wi-fi at the store cost 20 pesos for a password and was so slow as to be virtually useless.  We drank our waters and went back to the beach.

Parking Lot Hazard
As we were walking past the palapas on the beach, we spied a fellow standing next to Geary’s place and we asked if he were Geary.  He was and we stopped and chatted for a few minutes before he finally invited us onto his shady porch under the looming loudspeaker we had heard hours before.  We visited for half an hour or so.  He had built the place twenty years before and, “figured he’d stay.”  It was rustic, but comfortable and he had cats underfoot and seemed to know everyone in all the nearby communities.  He invited us for the Fourth of July party.

View from Bertha's Restaurant
Don and I dropped John and Julie off at Myla and then went back to the restaurant to finalize our plans to meet John and eat hamburgers.  The weather was pretty mild and the light breeze was just enough to keep things cool.  We returned to the boat and Don defrosted the refrigerator (it was getting difficult to remove the ice trays) while I worked on my blog.

Myla and Comet at El Burro Cove
John and Julie went in to use the internet after we came back.  They stopped by Comet on the way back.  Don was feeling a bit low energy after our big hike, so I grabbed my guitar and accompanied them back to Myla so that John and I could play some guitar.  The seas were a bit rough and we were almost back to their boat when I got completely drenched by a rogue wave.  They loaned me a towel and we mixed up some margaritas and visited with Julie until I was dry and we were relaxed enough to whip out John’s sheet music and try to play some Beatles tunes.  We weren’t ready for prime time, but we had a lot of fun and didn’t sound half bad on the songs that were in my vocal range.  It was late by the time John delivered me back to Comet.

May 19, 2016

I got up early and swam fifteen laps around the boat while the seas were nice and flat.  Myla pulled out early to head over to Playa Coyote, but we stayed in El Burro to wait for our friend, John South, who was due to arrive that afternoon.  We drank our coffee and enjoyed the weak morning sun.  Eventually, I made salami and goat cheese omelets for brunch.  Then we read until about 15:00 when we thought we’d better go ashore in case John appeared.

El Burro Cove from Behind
We received an email confirming that John had arrived at the Loreto airport and managed to get a shuttle to the bus station.  He said that he would be taking the 15:00 bus.  Pepe, at Bertha’s restaurant, told us that the bus would arrive about 17:00.  We had some drinks and shared an order of quesadillas while we waited, which gave us a chance to use the very slow internet.  A little after 17:00, I went up to the road to meet the bus.  Sure enough, the bus appeared about 17:10 but, despite my effort to flag him down, the driver just flashed his lights at me and kept going.  I walked the half kilometer up the road to Bertha’s tienda in case the driver had let John off there, but there was no sign of him.

Don and I figured that John would either end up in Mulege and have to take a taxi back or would arrive on the next bus.  We settled down to wait.  A little after 18:00, Don went up to the road to await the next bus.  No sooner had he left than we received an email from John asking where we were.  I responded and asked where he was, but didn’t hear any more.  Apparently, the driver had let John off in Posada Concepcion, the next bay up the road.  There were no taxis and no cell service and John had no luck hitchhiking.  He asked at a local hostel, but the operator did not have a room and was not the least helpful.  Eventually, after much prompting by an increasingly desperate John, he suggested that he knock on the door of a nearby home.

John Relaxing on Comet
The occupants took pity on John and gave him a ride the two kilometers back to El Burro.  John invited them for dinner and we all had a pleasant meal at Bertha’s.  We were interested to hear the details of vacation home arrangements in yet another spot.  Each community seemed to have slightly different peculiarities.  These folks were leasing their parcel from a Mexican who held a federal concession.  Their lease included water and generated electricity from 10:00 to 22:00.  The folks in El Burro had to provide their own water and power.

It was near dark by the time we got John back to Comet.  We spent the rest of the evening chatting and getting him settled in.