March 25 through May 8, 2006

Across to Baja

Spring 2006

When we last left you we were in Puerto Vallarta waiting for a good weather window to cross from the Mexico mainland back north to LaPaz and the Baja Peninsula. Depending on where you jump off from, and where you’re jumping to, determines how long it will take – usually between 1 ½ to 3 days. Prevailing winds at this time of year are out of the North, which makes for a very uncomfortable ride at least for a portion of the trip. (Going against the wind means that you are "bashing" into the front side of waves, as opposed to going with the wind where you are going on the back side of the waves – a much more comfortable ride!) It is not uncommon to have to wait a week or so to cross in order to find a good weather window. Well – the gods were with us all the way! We left Puerto Vallarta at 10 am on March 25th in light winds and little wind chop. By the next morning the winds and seas had died off almost entirely. It was like a lake out there, unheard of in this neck of the woods! The whales were incredible and it seemed we could see them most of the trip. At one point they were on all three sides of us while the dolphins were doing back flips two feet from the bow of the boat. We are sure they were practicing for a show at Sea World! As we approached Cabo San Lucas, currents picked up. When we entered into the Cerralvo and Lorenzo Channels we were heading into our third night at sea. As we’ve mentioned in previous logs, driving the boat at night can be very peaceful but when you are near land it can get a little nerve-wracking – this was no exception ….. especially when the lights that mark islands and shoals are not exactly where the charts say they will be, not to mention that the charts in Mexico are up to two miles off! We both agree that Radar and GPS are the two most important pieces of navigation equipment you can have on board. They are your eyes and ears. Just before morning a 20 knot headwind kicked in and made it a little tough going, but it only lasted for a few hours. We arrived in LaPaz the morning of the 28th and slept most of the dayJ This was one of the best crossings anyone could ask for….. must be all your good wishes coming our wayJ We fished on the way but didn't catch a thing except some good pictures and fun memories! Many of our friends crossed over a week after we did and had very rough seas with strong headwinds the entire way.

We hung on the hook for a few days, visited with friends and then went to the islands that surround LaPaz. Isla Espiritu Santo is a beautiful island that is often highlighted on the cover of guides and magazines. We anchored in the bight between two islands that are only separated by a narrow channel. Waking up the morning in a bay that was so turquoise it didn’t look real was a real treat The white shoreline was lined with Kayaks and small tents. Espiritu Santo is relatively easy to get to and it seems to be a destination point for many "expedition companies." In the few days we were there, we ran into a kayaking expedition as well as a photo expedition group who were from all over the U.S. Our mighty little dingy took us on a 15 mile tour around the neighboring island (Isla Partida,) which included an area where you could swim with lots of sea lions. We didn’t partake as the water temp was only 69 degrees and a strong wind was blowing….. Does that mean we are becoming woosies ??? Perhaps we will get a chance to swim with the sea lions in a month or two when we pass thru that area again – hope so!

Next it was off to a very small but beautiful little island (Isla San Francisco) that is shaped like a fish hook. We anchored there and as soon as we arrived Brian, the captain of the "Charlotte B," a 67’ Nordhaven, came over and invited us to their boat that evening. Nordhavens are known as one of the most sturdy (& expensive) power boats around and are generally outfitted with the most elaborate electronics available. Since we have been "out here" we have been invited onto almost every size Nordhaven they make (go figure??) but this was by far the largest one we have seen in Mexico, and one of the largest one they make. The owners, Harold and Edie, who are from Prescott, told us the only other boat they ever owned was a 22’ ski boat! They were taking the Charlotte B to Dana Point to sell the following month and looking to buy a 95 footer! Their friend, Captain Brian, was going to take the Boat north for them and they were heading home to Prescott after a little more cruising in the islands. We hadn’t reprovisioned in quite a while, so I didn’t have any spiffy appetizers to bring over…. so I quickly baked some banana bread to bring over so we wouldn’t have to go empty handed. There is a long story about baking this particular "quick" loaf of banana bread that I will share with you all some day. The water at Isla San Francisco was incredibly clear, not only could we see the anchor on the bottom we could see each link in the chain! Word has it that the further north into the Sea one travels, the clearer and prettier the water gets! We will be there soon so time will tell!

It is now the first of April and we head back to LaPaz to do some provisioning, clean up, work on some projects, and get the boat ready for friends to arrive. We rented a car in LaPaz and drove the two and a half hours to the airport in Jose del Cabo to pick up JoAnn & Gary Cecil. They were with us from April 6 thru the 18th. JoAnn is a water/ocean person and used to go deep sea fishing; however, Gary gets terribly sea sick so we weren’t sure if we were going to get out on the boat or not! The good news is that we had good weather and went out to some nearby islands and he did great. – no chumming or anything!

JoAnn’s knowledge of Spanish paid off more than once for us. When we were anchored in a bay a small ponga came by our boat, with two young men in it. All they could say was "tortillas, tortillas." Come to find out they were from a small fish camp around the corner and they wanted to know if we had any tortillas they could have to go with their dinner. We sorted thru the ones we had on board, tossed out the moldy ones, and gave them to them. As they were starting to drive away, JoAnn says in her best Spanish, "do you have any pescado?" They just smiled big and drove off. Five minutes later they drive back to our boat and handed us a bag with about 15, already cleaned, fish! ScoreJ We hadn’t caught a thing in days and were so excited we gave them a six pack of beer, bags of tortilla chips, cookies, etc. The six-pack of beer seemed to bring the biggest smiles to their faces – go figure! Needless to say it was a good trade and we learned first hand how nice it would be if we could speak the language the way JoAnn can. While they were with us we did lots of walking (JoAnn was the queen, walking about 5 miles a day), touring, sunset dinners on the flybridge, sanding & varnishing handrails, visiting, joke telling, etc.. We rented a car and traveled inland for a day before going back to the airport. We went thru a beach town on the Pacific side of the Baja, Todo Santos, home of the original "Hotel California" – you know the one in the song by the Eagles. Of course we had to have lunch there and sign our names on the walls – we will now live in infamy! From there we stayed in Cabo for a night and naturally HAD to do the tourist thing and tour the night clubs, which isn’t complete if you don’t end the night dancing on the tables at Squid Row….. Even Gary… and we have pictures to prove it!

The cruisers in LaPaz held what is called "Bay-Fest" for the next four days, which includes seminars and events to help raise money for the local schools. It was a great event; however, it was dampened when word came down that the "Charlotte B," (the 67’ Nordhaven we had been on a few weeks ago) went on the rocks on their way back to California, and a very popular local cruiser lost his life in the accident the day Bay-Fest started. They had a very experienced captain on board and it is still unclear how the boat ended up on the rocks…. It does remind you that the sea is great but you always have to be on your toes and respect it’s power.

April 26th we began our travels northward further up the Sea of Cortez. First stop was in Lobos where we met up with Catn’ About & At Last. We joined them on their boat for dinner and while there, the winds kicked up to a point that just trying to get from their boat, into our dinghy, and then the 100 yards back to Dreamweaver was like taking our life into our hands. We had some concerns that the dinghy would get swamped if the winds continued the way they were, and we left the dink in the water strung out behind the boat the way we usually do. That meant we had to get the dinghy up on the davits (which hang 4 feet above the swim step on the back of the boat) while it was rocking in the waves like a bucking bronco. Off course, being the buckaroo that Ken is, he was able to hook it up to the cables and hoist it out of the water and into its rightful place on the davits. Those are the nights you just hope your anchor holds tight!

Agua Verde was one of our favorite stops the first week. Not only was it a beautiful, turquoise bay, but it had a lot to see on land as well. If you could picture a small village with dirt roads, dirt walkways, dirt patios, dirt everything… with about 40 small houses that were put together with whatever they had available to them, spread out in an area of about ¼ square mile, yet they were as neat as a pin. They all seemed have a fair amount of space in their yards while goats, pigs, dogs, and some cattle all meandered around the town freely. The only thing we saw tied up was a huge boar that looked like he could do some damage if let roam free. When we walked into the little village kids seemed to be everywhere. We had brought them some coloring books and crayons, which they all seemed to be fascinated with but what all the kids were really looking for was candy – it seems that the one word that all the Mexican children know is "candy." There was also some good hiking and an old cemetery that was quite disheveled and had primitive grave stones ranging from the 1800’s to as recent as the 1960’s.

General store at Auga Verde

Next it was on to Puerto Escondido, where about 125 boats gathered for the 10th annual Loreto-Fest. It too is a fundraiser that goes to the needy. Many projects they donate to tug at your heartstrings… in fact, I think I saw some tears in Ken’s eyes as he read about where all the money goes and how much of a need there was. A festival wouldn’t be a festival if there wasn’t a sailboat race, and this was no exception. Ken got to crew on "Platinum" a Morgan 45, which is a racing hull. He had a blast! They had a nine person crew and came in second… they were all trying to figure out how Ken knew so much about racing a sailboat since we have a trawler! Guess those old sailing days were kicking in for him - they say it’s like riding a bike?! We teamed up with John on Maestra (our buddy from Whidbey Island that came down in a trawler with us on the Baja Ha-Ha rally) to form a "Trawler Trash" team for volleyball and "over the line." Over the line is what Catn’ About describes as softball for old farts who can’t run any longer… if you get a hit, you don’t have to run the bases, it just counts as a "man on." We even entered our "Trawler Trash Chile" in the chili cook-off and held our own. Loreto-Fest was a great place to see so many of the friends we have met along our travels. When it was over, on May 7th, it was also a time to say good-bye to many we may not see again, as that seems to be when most people begin to scatter in different directions… some go home, others continue traveling, go inland, or stay in Marinas plugged into air conditioning for the summer.

Heading to be back in LaPaz to meet Keri & Brendon in mid-June, we’ve decided to head up into the northern Sea as fast as possible, so that we can see the Bay of Los Angeles. (As the crow fly’s, Bay of LA is only 300+ miles from San Diego, but as the boat floats is about 1300 miles from San Diego!) Once there, we will meander our way back to LaPaz and then begin our trek back to the states.

We hear that back home the snow is melting, the late winter is finally over, and the lake is full. We are excited to know that we will be back in Big Bear for month and will have the opportunity to see many of you thenJ Here’s hoping you are all well, happy, and having a great spring! Until next time...

Love and dreams,

Ken & Dottie

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