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Thursday, July 30, 2009

Aqua Verde to Santa Rosalia

It's been a while since I last had enough bandwidth and/or time to post anything. The photos above show the lovely water at Aqua Verde again, where Michael is cleaning the hull. He used the hookah he's built, while I tackled the waterline using my snorkel.

We left Aqua Verde on July 1 and sailed north to Puerto Escondito, where we spent the next ten days on a mooring buoy, renting a car to drive into Loreto to restock the boat and get a liter of mango sorbet. Fireworks on the fourth at a small community of gringos just around the headland in a place called Juncalito were very well done. The restaurant at Escondito provided internet connection, but one had to buy something to use it, which didn't help the pocketbook. Following is a picture of a heron who had been keeping an eye on the water from this power boat's swimstep until we inched closer in our dinghy. In the July pictures linked to the right, you'll see him as he took flight.

On the tenth, we headed to Puerto Ballandra on Isla Carmen, a lovely island about 8 miles east of Loreto, which we visited on Saturday. Here's a picture of Sea Venture anchored off the town. Not a good spot for overnighting, as there's no protection, but it works well for a day trip. That's Isla Carmen in the background.

I really wanted to revisit a small anchorage called La Lancha. on the north side of the island that had wonderful snorkeling. Instead of clear skies, we woke to storm clouds. Michael checked the radar and saw several cells moving in our direction. These morphed into a full-scale chubasco, with slamming rain and forty-five knots of wind. He fired up the engine and motored into the waves just to keep the tension off the anchor rode. Not much fun. Afterward, we decided to return to the protection of Ballandra and spent a lovely week on the hook, playing dominoes with our friends Faye and Ken Husch from the trawler Genesis. I kayaked with Faye, and the four of us took the dinghies out to jig for bottom fish. I snagged a series of rocks and lost most of my bait. They pulled in several trigger fish. Oh, well.
Successful fishermen, Ken and Faye.

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Here, Faye and Ken teach us to play Mexican Train Dominoes. We've been having a great time in the cool of the boat, trying to beat them. Rarely have I seen folk who are as good with numbers. They put my poor brain to shame.

Following is a picture of the night fish that hovered near the boat in Ballandra. They did not make me want to swim after dark.

Both Genesis and Sea Venture needed a new supply of fresh veggies, which are in short supply except at the Sunday market in Loreto. This is a picture of the inside of a surprise find, a luxury hotel in the middle of town.

After overnighting in a beautiful anchorage off Isla Coronado, we motorsailed north to Caleta San Juanico, which Ken, whose boat always arrives first (two 120 Ford Lehman's to our one 90 hp, to which we added the big genoa for an hour of wind), said was much too exposed. The more secluded anchorage of La Ramada already had several boats in it and wouldn't hold us both. We ended up sending Genesis to La Ramada, while Michael and I tucked into the northeastern-most cove in San Juanico.

Michael surveyed the area in his dinghy with the portable depth sounder to determine if we'd hit bottom when the wind changed direction -- it ALWAYS changes direction -- and we circled our anchor with 125 feet of chain out. I jumped in the water and swam to the rocks for some glorious snorkeling. The water was clear, the fish abundant. M. returned to the boat to report that we had clear room all the way around...except in one little spot that would be close. Perhaps the wind wouldn't turn us that way.

The anchor alarm went off as the wind veered around in the wee hours. The moon was barely visible, but we watched the walls of rock loom off our stern. The depth sounder showed 10 feet under the keel, then, slowly, 9 feet, 8, 7, 6,5,4,until it settled out at 3.4 before slipping further into the circle and finding 6.5 again.

As beautiful as the anchorage was, it wasn't comfortable enough. As soon as Ken announced that La Ramada, around the headland, was emptying, we started the engine and drove to join them. La Ramada is one of my favorite spots, with some of the best snorkeling yet. M and I both swam to the rocks and snorkeled, watching the interaction of large and small fish, a largish black on snapping at Sergeant Majors to protect his territory. Great fun.

That is a picture of La Ramada as we sailed north, heading to Bahia Concepcion, an anchorage that left us sweating and very uncomfortable. We'd heard rumors of high temperatures; they weren't lying. While Michael recovered from heat or something fever-inducing, Faye, Ken, and I caught a ride into Mulege with an ex-pat gringo named Russ who owns Ana's Restaurant in Playa Santispac. Mulege is one of the sweetest little towns I've seen in Mexico. I wish we could visit again, but one can't sail there, and the river doesn't look like a pleasant dinghy ride.

We motored out of Concepcion and raised only the mizzen and staysail when we discovered the large whitecaps and hefty wind blowing off our stern quarter. It was a rocky ride around Isla San Marcos to meet Genesis at Sweet Pea Cove. What a place for sea life! I hope Michael took more than videos of the rays and whales. If so, I'll post them later. We spent only two days there before heading across to Santa Rosalia. We'll be here for a week, so more internet work later.

Monday, July 06, 2009

Anchoring in Bahia Aqua Verde

Here is how clear the water was in Aqua verde. That's the anchor buoy on top of the water and the anchor down 26.5 feet. Lovely snorkeling, lovely swimming.