Cruising to points SOUTH
February 14, 2015
I write this while sitting at anchor at Puerto Balandra, just a few miles out of La Paz. How did we get here? Well, let me back it up a bit. We were in San Carlos until the Tuesday after the Superbowl, as we were waiting to get our bimini fabric work completed. Needless to say, it NEVER happened. Lucky for us, we have really large solar panels mounted above the bimini frame that do a pretty good job of keeping the direct sun off of us while underway. The back story as to why the bimini wasn’t delivered is much too long to recap for our average follower, but I will say this… “NEVER use the services of “Tapiceria Lucy!” Aurora is the lady who owns the company and does all the work. Her skill set is marginal, at best, and she will never deliver the products as promised…particularly in the time frame that is requested. We understand we are in the land of “manana” but our experience went beyond trying our patience. I intend to write an article on a Yahoo cruisers forum about the entire story. When I do, I will provide a link to anyone interested in getting the unabridged version. Let’s just say, we ended up leaving San Carlos (a week late) without $2,000 worth of bimini work that we had already paid 95% of.
We threw off the bowlines on Tuesday morning around 10AM and set out for Puerto Escondido, a 25 hour voyage, across the Sea of Cortez. We got off without a hitch and had an incredible first 4 hours under sail alone, on a beam reach. As we proceeded South, our winds slowly died out and we were forced to fire up the iron genny..aka Senor Perkins 4-236. Even though the total distance is about 130 miles, we never really lost sight of land, as we neared the halfway point, we could see both coast lines. This was very reassuring, being that this was our first true solo voyage of any length and a great test for s/v YOLO and all of her systems. To make our passage even more amazing, we had a FULL moon. It was so bright during the night that I went below to check my charge controller to see if we were generating any solar power. Courtney and I did a 3 hour watch routine. This means that one of us was up on deck, mostly awake, for three hours at a time for the entire night. I found the watch schedule pretty easy to handle, though adrenaline was probably helping. As day broke, we were treated to both the moon setting and the sun rising on very glassy seas. I don’t think it gets much better! As we were pulling into Puerto Escondido, we ran into (not literally) our friends Kelly and Scott from s/v Reverance. As luck would have it, a friend of a friend had a private mooring ball with OUR name on it! That’s how we like to roll. After getting settled in, we lowered “Fast Blast” (our dinghy’s new name, as coined by the kiddos) off her davits and cruised around the area. The next day we were hanging out in the cockpit when we received an urgent VHF radio call from the Port Captain. Apparently, we were missing at sea and our parents had called the US Coast Guard who had contacted Mexican authorities! The morning of our arrival, we had posted on our YOLO Facebook that we were approaching our destination while we still had some internet service. Some of our family members missed the post and thought the worst case scenario. Lesson learned…always advise family members of your overall plan but DO NOT guarantee a phone call. As this was the case in Escondido…there were no services available for us, at the time, to communicate. We enjoyed our time in Escondido and Loreto and have plans to go back there a little later in the Spring.
This past Saturday, we woke up early and got underway to Nopolo, the halfway point between Escondido and La Paz. However, shortly after unhooking from our mooring, I felt excessive friction in the the steering and elected to return back to port. We scanned through the Autopilot manual, thinking that it was the culprit. But Court and I didn’t come up with anything. We put out a call on the morning net for suggestions. Most suggested calling the area mechanic. Lucky for us, we have s/v Reverence on speed dial. Scott is a diesel mechanic and all-around handy dude. He came by the boat around 10am and had the helm turning as smooth as butter in about 10 minutes of checking things out. The fix…WD-40. Yup, that was it. It seems that the white lithium grease in the steering mechanism and wheel brake had hardened over time and was offering no lubrication to the overall system. A few squirts here and there and we were back in business. We set off again around noon and had our sights on Agua Verde, a little bay about 3 hours south of Escondido. En route, we saw not only dolphins but an enormous blue whale. Pretty amazing. We arrived around 3:30 and set the anchor. Since anchoring is still new to us, I let Court and the kids go to shore with the Kayak while I stayed aboard and enjoyed a few Pacifico’s on the boat. The anchorage turned rolly after sundown but we still had a decent night’s sleep and our good ol’ Mantus anchor kept us hooked with no issues. (Our first sponsor review is in the works, regarding some awesome Mantus products.)
Sunday morning had us on our way to Isla San Francisco. It was another beautiful, though windless day on the water. This made for calm seas but also a full day…8 hours of motoring.) We arrived in the picturesque anchorage and set the hook in between a few other boats, as there were about 7 or 8 of us in the bay. The kids really enjoyed exploring the shore and collecting shells.
We got underway Monday morning at about 8am with our Navionics app set to take us to La Paz. We started out the morning with the motor on but actually got to sail for about an hour, until the winds died out, yet again. We have heard it many times, but the saying for the Sea of Cortez is…”there is either not enough wind or too much wind.” After navigating the LONG channel into La Paz, we pulled into our slip at Marina de La Paz around 3:30 in the afternoon. We set about exploring La Paz on foot and really felt a great vibe there. We finished the day with a phenomenal meal at Ranch Viejo.
We woke up on Tuesday morning and spent the first half of the day getting the ship back in shape: washing the decks, filling the tanks, cleaning below, doing laundry, etc. A curiouis thing happened during our morning duties, as well. I spot a little yellow dinghy motoring by the stern with a crew that looked awfully familiar. I called out to the family and sure enough…it was Del Viento. Michael and his family have been at it for quite a few years and are prepping to do the Puddle Jump to the South Pacific in April. We didn’t have much time to talk, but it was cool to see a family I have been internet stalking for the past few years. SMALL world. For lunch, we took a walk to a great burger joint that is a complete knock-off of In-and-Out. And the name of it…wait for it….Paz and Go. On the way back, I spotted a marine store and popped in to check if they happened to have a rather elusive filter…the R24S Racor fuel-water separator. BINGO! After about 3 weeks of trying to find that damn filter…success. Our Onan genset will be up and running soon. However, our solar setup is so powerful that we didn’t even plug into shore power while at the marina. But I guess it is till nice to have the generator in a pinch. And back to SMALL world, I was just about to turn my key back in at the marina office when we run into our friends from Kachina, who were our slip mates (and endured our animated children) during most of our time in San Carlos. Great to see you Mary and Ken! We backed out of the slip, without hurting our boat or anyone else’s for that matter and headed back out to sea. It was a quick jaunt to Puerto Balandra, an insanely beautiful anchorage with unbelievable visibilty. We could clearly see the anchor 30 feet below us! And that, my friends, has you caught up to where we are sitting now!