Wednesday, June 8, 2016


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.

We 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

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

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