Monday, May 11, 2009

Holy Shark(s) and Chris' Birthday too!

Our last day at Los Coronados was a full one. We had a mega-snorkel day with Scheherezade in their speedy 5-hp dinghy. We started at the western point where large rocks, deep water and strong currents rushed around the point. There were a wide variety of fish but the high point (especially for Shawn) of this site was the little diving duck. At every anchorage for over the past month we've seen huge "schools" of these baby diving ducks. They are so adorable; one dives and they all dive, and all pop up 100 or so yards away only to move a few more yards and dive again. Well, at this snorkel site, there was one little duck putting all of its schooling to work swimming around the waters edge, diving down for food around the rocks, swimming underwater, and resurfacing. This little guy let us follow him a foot or so away while he went about his business. We could see the interesting "feathered" feet and got to watch him dive right toward us, wildlife moment for sure! Then we moved our party to the little Coronado. While Noah and Chris fantasized about anchoring our boats there in a norther (c'mon guys, we don't draw much but it was only about 6 ft!), Alex and Shawn searched for the rays that were supposed to be mating. And we all found them, another nature moment indeed! We followed all of this with a pre-Chris'-birthday pizza and cookie dough party.

The next morning (Tuesday April 28th) we said goodbye to Scheherezade and sailed north in light to calm winds. A full day of very light wind sailing ensued, and 10.5 hrs (2 of which were engine hours) and approximately 19 nm later we found ourselves comfortably anchored next to Pisces a little past sunset in Caleta Ramada just north of San Juanico. Here we spent 3 days with Pisces and La Querencia, searching for obsidian, seeing eels and rays while snorkeling in San Juanico, balancing rocks at the "cruisers shrine" (very similar to the shoe tree for you Echoites), doing yoga, swimming with whales in La Ramada, and celebrating Chris' 35th by sailing Pesky and having a sushi blow out with crab, salmon, sake and all (Kampai Pisces!). Saturday May 2nd, winds started filling in from the north and we sailed the 8 nm northward to Punta Pulpito over 5.25 hours. Just before sunset, Chris' rod went off, "Fish on!" He reeled it in with excitement as it has been a while since we've had fresh fish. As it got closer, though, its swimming pattern revealed that it wasn't a dorado or even a bonito, it was a shark! Chris tried to get it to spit the hook and when that failed, he reeled it in and with gloves and needlenose pliers extracted the feather and let the shark get back to looking for dinner. Punta Pulpito was a lovely solitary anchorage from which we hiked to the peak overlooking the Vermillion Sea (a line of red water), snorkeled nearby reefs, and made our newest priority list of items still required before any ocean crossing.

When the south winds started to fill in as the stars faded and sun began to rise on Cinco de Mayo, we sailed out and again headed up the Sea with the winds lightly at our backs. We spent the day slowly sailing/drifting north practicing our zen as sailboat after sailboat, unwilling to wait out the calms, motored by. Early afternoon, winds filled in from the NE quadrant and we had to change our drifter for our 100% to make more way upwind. With a beautifully blazing red sky over the Baja peninsula we were 3 nm from the entrance to Bahia Concepcion as the sun dipped out of view. Our original plan was to stand off outside the bay, but as the near full moon came up, visibility and winds were good, and we were so close, we continued on. Around 11:30 pm we were 0.3 nm off of Santa Domingo anchorage in which we could see friends anchored. But the wind vanished and the tide was headed out taking us the wrong direction. So close, but yet so far, we tacked away from land and settled in for a full night at sea. We rode currents and very light breezes all the way into Coyote Bay and set the hook next to Pisces (who had been the the bay for 2 days already) in Posada Concepcion around 11 am ending our 29 hour and approximately 53 nm passage.

Conception Bay is another world. We haven't yet figured out the weather in the Sea and it is totally different here. It is an all-weather-anchoring-area, safe from most weather in the sea, but noteably, the water temperature is in the mid-80s! And the air temperatures are nearing the century mark. As it is quite hot, Grizzly is not enamored with this stop, but she's putting up with us and finding all the coolest spots on board. She prefers the floor of the head (bathroom for you non-mariners) which has a floor grate allowing for ventilation, and a new favorite spot of ours is our hammock on the foredeck, especially from sunset to 10 pm when the temperatures are divine! The day after our arrival we packed it in touring the closest bays in Eeyore with Pisces; snorkeling at the reef we had so diligently avoided upon entry, gathering clams (everyone but Shawn) for dinner, and even had a surprising swim with a whale shark! It was HUGE, we guesstimate around 25-ft long (over twice the size of our dinghy) and not at all interested in us as it feed on phytoplankton. We got a good closeup picture of its head with symbiotic fish riding on its back, so check back for it later! We had a clam bake that evening with pasta and sundried tomato alfredo sauce as well as some fruity New Zealand wine, magical! Our third day in the bay Shawn, Chris and Jacob caught a ride with a very nice and information filled woman from Canada into Mulege while Julia dutifully stayed to keep an eye on the boats. With the Santa Rosalia River running through it, Mulege was a palm tree and flower filled haven (surprising in the desert) in what appeared to us half Mexican and half gringo population. We found all the most important things of course; fresh water, fresh food, a restaurant and some ice cream! We toured the towns original mission and then caught a ride back to Santispac with a doctor who runs tests for the worrisome Swine Flu. He assured us that to date there have been exactly zero confirmed cases of the flu on the Baja peninsula; very reassuring for our current travels. We ended the evening with a soak in the natural hotsprings that are cooled down as high tide waves of the bay roll gently into shore 200 yards from our boat.

As Conception Bay has a well established gringo cohort on shore, yesterday (Saturday May 9th) we decided to head in search of a bit more solitude. We first sailed to Isla Coyote to a very romantic anchorage- unfortunately it was 50-ft deep until 20-ft from shore. Next we checked Playa El Burro which houses Geary, the weatherman that we listen to religiously every morning on the Sonrisa Net; but it was a bit of a lee shore with the nice ESE that had filled in. So we continued on to Coyote Bay that houses NOLS, rumored to be closed for the season, but still a lee shore and next to the highway, we finally found the perfect spot in Playa Santa Barbara and set the hook before Chris could have a tacking duel with Pesky, Pisces' sailing dinghy. We awoke this morning to fog in Conception Bay, what?! It soon dissipated to a haze here, but we could still see the thick bank outside Conception Bay. Geary can't see the fog on his imagery and Don (the other weather guru on the Amigo Net) said (today of all days) that the Sea doesn't ever get fog... So we're currently enjoying this anchorage, doing laundry (by hand with salt water), baking garlic-saltwater-pressure cooker bread, hiding from the bees and trying to figure out when we can next make passage north with favorable winds and no fog.


  1. Happy birthday, Man!!!

    uh...don't get swine flu, man.


  2. Hooray for magical adventures and beautiful days! Sounds like an awesome birthday Chris! Can't wait for the pictures!Sending you salty dogs my love-Maggie
    p.s.It is so sad they cut the shoe tree down....may the rock pile stay forever!