Monthly Archives: March 2013

Caleta Partida and Ensenada Grande, 15 March 2013

Willow at Ensenada Grande

At 0830, I left the slip at Marina Palmira.  Free at last!  I checked out with the Port Captain of La Paz utilizing my well-honed spanglish.  I hear the chuckle in his voice when I apologize for my espanol.  I’m headed toward Bahia San Gabriel, about 18 nm out of La Paz.  I sent some photos and verbage about that spot on my last post.  It was absolutely beautiful, and my favorite spot, until I moved to Caleta Partida, about 9 nm up the coast of Isla Espiritu Santo.  There is a suggested anchorage on the northeast side of the cove, but I opted for the other, less crowded spot at the east side of the cove.  There, I was near the fish camp and National Parks building.  (Now don’t get excited.  This ‘building’ literally was plywood with a tin roof, just enough to house the Rangers for their 3 day shifts.)  A coromuel was always a possibility, so I thought tucking in on the easterly side would at least give me a little shelter.  Well, for two nights it blew up to 30 knots, making my spot windy but without fetch, there were no wind waves.  The Catalina 34, Autumn Wind, with Brian and Elizabeth aboard, joined the party.  We hiked on the island, and the fun part was the “Z” shaped channel leading from west, to the east side of the island. The fishermen had the luxury, in a small panga, to get to the other side by traveling through this little channel instead of going ‘all the way around.’  The flora and fauna are stark, amazing and beautiful, as are the different colors of rock, mountain and soil.

The View from the Arroyo, Ensenada Grande

View from the Arroyo, Ensenada Grande

After 2 nights here, Elizabeth, Brian and I decided to go up-island to Ensenada Grande.  Now THIS is my favorite spot.  So far.  This cove was a whopping 4 nm miles from Caleta Partida, but it was such a difference.  The first night it again blew stink, and again, I was in the good spot as to not have any fetch (if you have a lot of fetch, the wind over the water has a chance to make waves, and this is not a good thing when you’re lookin’ to sleep or cook).  But I did get wind.  Sheesh!  Fortunately, it shut down early, and I was able to get a few hours worth of sleep.  The next morning, we all decided to go for a hike ashore.  I’ve been trying to use my SUP as my dinghy, and when conditions allow, I do.  I paddled in, and Brian and Elizabeth took the dink.  Our hike was supposed to take us up to the fisherman’s cross, up at the top of the bluff overlooking our boats lying at anchor.  There’s a guidepost at the trailhead, and it says it’s 2.4 miles up to the cross.  4.8 mile hike?  Not too bad.  We packed cameras and water and were off.  This trail (I just noted I had typed ‘trial.’  It is in fact very appropriate.) was up the arroyo, and entailed climbing boulders, finding your own way, watching out for clusters of wasps, vultures and other fun things.  I had packed my camera and water in a dry bag since I paddled in, and found myself banging it on rocks or getting it caught on the thorny bushes prevalent here.  I decided to ditch the bag after a good swallow of water.  I placed it in an easy to find spot for the way down.  As 1100 rolled around, Elizabeth was leading the rock-hopping way, with Brian next, and of course me bringing up the rear.  After another few minutes, I got thirsty, my knees were tired, and I figured if I kept going, someone was going to have to carry me down.  I’m so glad I turned around.  I made my way carefully down the arroyo, finding snakes, gobs of lizards, and some vultures guaranteed a great meal if I hadn’t turned around.  Back at the trailhead, I noted the scale for this hike to be ‘difficult,’ and didn’t feel so bad.  Back in the day, I used-to-could hop right on up that arroyo.  I’ll keep that memory…

Hungry Vulture Lookin' at Me

Hungry Vulture A-lookin’ at Me

I got back to Willow, changed into a swimsuit, and decided to go for a paddle.  I took the SUP all around the immediate bay, and swam (planned) in the turquoise colored shallows.  After getting back on the boat, I showered and changed, and noted a fisherman in a panga slowly making his way through the anchorage.  He waved, and I wave at everyone, so I waved back.  He came up to Willow, and we talked fish.  He said he had a nice bonita, but I asked for my favorite, yellowtail.  He held up a 2 1/2 foot long fish, and I nodded.  Brian and Elizabeth had been talking about having fresh fish, so I decided to make some for them after their strenuous hike.  The panguero asked how much I would pay for the fish, and not having any idea of the local value, and not wanting to insult him, I said 200 pesos ($16).  He agreed, and passed over the fish.  As is a good thing to do, I asked Arnulfo if he wanted something to drink and he nodded gratefully.  When I turned back from the icebox, I found him aboard and sitting in the throne.  He smiled sheepishly and said, “Necesito companera.  Tu solita?”  (I’m lonely.  Are you alone?)  Well, I had a hard time not busting up, but after Arnulfo heard my response to being single he said, “Pobrecita.  Yo me gusto.” (Poor baby.  I like you.)  We traded spanglish for another 10 minutes, I gave him a jaqueta (jacket), and told him “Gracias y adios!”  We shook hands, then he kissed my hand, and then he pointed hopefully to his cheek.  I smiled, then shook my head.  He told me if I was ever staying at Caleta Partida to look him up.  It was pretty funny.  All I can say is, Dudes dig me!!!!!  Needless to say, the yellowtail was awesome, and I had a few leftovers…


Makani’s Favorite Spot When It’s Too Hot…

I hope you are all well, and enjoying Spring.  Keep doing good things, take care of each other and have fun.  I miss you all…  There’ll be a few more posts while I’m here.  I’ll use the internet while I have the chance!

Bahia San Gabriel, Isla Espiritu Santo, 14 March 2013

Bahia San Gabriel

Bahia San Gabriel

I’ve been sitting here aboard Willow, shaking my head in disbelief, and thanking God for such a place.  It is warm, sunny and bright; the anchorage is well protected from the north wind, but not so much the southwesterlies (Coromuel), or westerlies.  I don’t care.  It’s beautiful.

I sailed up to the last mile on the approach to the cove.  There was a very strange opposing current thing going on, with opposite winds sending windwaves at each other, and their directions and flukiness made it difficult to sail the rest of the way in.  I watched my fathometer slowly dial up to the single digits, and watched the water change color with it.  At 13′, I dropped the hook and steadily backed down.  Snuggly caught, I put up the cockpit shade and made some lunch.  After enjoying a huge salad, I went back out to the cockpit and just looked.  The colors were surreal.  There were patches of water that looked almost neon green, but then patches of grass would darken the tone.  I was looking at my anchor 90′ away in the crystal clear water.  I really wanted to swim, but I’d had a recent ear issue, so thought I would wait another day or two.  Nearby, two friendly boats dropped their hooks: Brian and Elizabeth aboard the Autumn Wind, and Donna and David on the Selonah.  We all just grinned and looked at each other, amazed at the peace and the beauty.

The Southwest Side of the Bay

The Southwest Side of the Bay

I stayed aboard for the rest of the day, doing chores and reading.  Hitting the sack early, there was a light southwesterly keeping me cool and the bugs away.  I woke up around 0130 for a look around.  The breeze was as calm as the water.  There were gazillions of stars, each one right THERE to touch.  I looked in the water, and saw an infinite number of diamonds floating and flashing as they went by.  Actually bioluminescence, these critters were especially bright in the moonless light.

I was up early this morning, had coffee, and checked weather on the computer and SSB radio.  Shortly after, I inflated my SUP, wiped down the decks, cleaned off the solar panels, and washed dishes.  Selonah came on by, saying their “See-ya’s” and heading off to San Evaristo about 40 nm up the peninsula.  I packed my camera in a towel and a dry bag, secured it to the SUP, and headed for shore.  It’s about a mile away, but what a paddle looking at the water change color, seeing puffer fish scurry away and small rays revealing their location as they avoid my paddle.  It was pretty shallow, but I was able to ride the board until I was about 5′ from the beach.   The beach was bright-white, and one could see the evolution from shell to grains of sand, as there were millions of small white clamshells, and smaller shards of the shells as you walked along.  I saw many bleached skeletons of fish: puffers, a round-flat fish, and even two large needlefish.  As I walked on, I came to a short berm topped with small white and yellow daisy/mum type flowers.  Interspersed among these plants were the remains of oysters, shells shining in the sun, flaking away like pastry.

Oysters, Flowers, Desert

Oysters, Flowers, Desert…

Brian and Elizabeth came ashore, and we walked to the other end of the bahia, where there was a frigate rookery.  There were all different ages of chicks, from downy cuties to moulting chicks learning from their folks.  Frigates are kinda lazy, and steal the majority of their food from other birds.  Once the other bird catches a fish, the frigates swoop down and harass them until they tire and drop their catch.  Many times, the frigates catch the discarded dinner in the air, gobbling it up to take home to their chicks.   We found a large shell similar to a conch, took pictures of it and left it.  Elizabeth and Brian opted for a hike to the other side of the island, and since I had no shoes, I opted to paddle some more.  I walked back to the board, and paddled back to where the frigates were.  As a tourist-toting panga approached, I started to over-think his wake, and of course, went swimming.  Good thing they call this a water sport!  The water was a beautiful temp, refreshing but not cold, and I stayed in for a minute or two.  After hopping back up, I paddled back to Willow for some lunch.

Sleeping Fish...

Sleeping Fish…

I’m not sure where my next stop’ll be, but I’ll leave in the morning.  I may head on up to Isla San Francisco, where there is a large, beautiful round bay.  After that, I may head back to the peninsula, as the westerlies are supposed to build, and that would be my shelter until they blow on by.  I know I won’t have internet access after this for a week or more, so please don’t worry.  All is well.  I am so blessed to be here, and giggle and shake my head, and thank God daily.  I hope you all are well, and getting ready for spring!

Shaking Head...  Thank You, God!

Beautiful Water…

West Side of Bahia San Gabriel

West Side of Bahia San Gabriel

La Paz (the peace), or not…

Here in La Paz, it’s lovely.  The days the norther doesn’t blow shows warm, sunny skies and usually pleasant sailing conditions.  I’ve heard the northers should diminish in 3-4 weeks.  Yay!  In fact, it’s been so calm for the past few days, I was able to paddle my SUP across the bay to look for whale sharks, but no luck.  It seems I may have just missed them.  Norther-less finds the cats and me doing our daily chores (them, sleeping) while trying to find shade and a touch of breeze.  I don’t resent this heat, it’s getting me ready for summer in the Sea!

Shortly after my arrival here, the winds were strong and steady.  My slip is just inside a sidetie of about 85′.  The first couple of days I had a large luxury motor yacht displaced from her slip as there was maintenance being done there.  She soon moved back to her home, and I had an astounding view of the bay.  The winds were blowing, and the Capitania del Puerto closed the port.  This means that boats cannot leave, but boats can come in to seek safe harbor.  Saturday just before noon, I heard a commotion outside of Willow and looked up to see the bow of a 98′ maxi sailing yacht bearing down on her, with a piling and dock in between us.  I yelled out, “Reverse!”, and the boat finally moved back.  But then came right at us, once again.  “Reverse!” was all I could yell, and the message soon made its way back to the operator.  The owner of the boat threw down a bow line and I took a bight around a cleat.  There was a dock worker with a line from the stern, and he was trying to pull the boat in.  We both were being pulled around as we tried to help the operator get control.  Neither line was cleated off.  The operator kept putting the boat in forward, putting the bow on top of the piling at the stern of my boat.  That piling was tilting with the weight.  Willow was not in a good place, and there was nothing I could do about it.  Mike, who’s on the neighboring boat with his wife, Kelly, came over to help.  He kept calling out suggestions, and then downright orders, to the operator.  This went on for about 15-20 minutes, until someone on the boat finally dropped down a spring line, and the operator worked off that until he was secured.  I was ordered to cleat off the bow line, which I did, but noted the line wasn’t run through the hawse-hole or chocks.  The operator backed down on that, and promptly ripped two stanchions out of the deck and destroyed a foot or two of the wood caprail with the stress on the line.  I must admit, I was a bit of a wreck, as I was securely moored, enjoying the morning, when this thing comes in.  Then I over-hear snippets of conversation like the hydraulic tank ran dry, so there was no steering, winches or lifts;  there was smoke in the engine room;  the watermaker’s broken; they can’t plug into shorepower because the cord is on a hydraulic reel; oh, and my favorite:  “it was the girl’s fault on the bow.  She pulled the bow in and got me all messed up.  After that, I couldn’t recover.”   Huh?  I know I are strong, or at least used to be, but wow!  Paddling that SUP has given me super-human strength!  I pulled in a 98′ sailboat, against the wind!  Niiiiicce.  I don’t think the operator knew I could hear everything he was saying, as he was pretty darn deaf.  I also get needing to find a scapegoat, but I pretty much kinda resented the blame.   I figured I wasn’t going to be here long, or maybe the other boat would leave, so it’s just something to let go.  And seriously question whether I’ll help other boats tie up…  Isn’t that a shame?

Yesterday this boat was re-located within the marina.  Now yesterday, there was no wind, the port was open, the hydraulic situation had been remedied, so no problems should be anticipated.  Nope, the bow came right back down, right on top of Willow again, and my neighbor Mike was yelling, “Reverse!”  After five minutes of manuevering, they were gone to their new location.  Soon after, a beautiful motoryacht with a hailing port of Newport Beach tied up, quietly, calmly, with just the captain and his deckhand.

And we are back to La Paz again…