Posted by: Carol | April 22, 2008

Cruising Lifestyle

2008 Mexico 2 – Barra to La Paz

CBParker_D3_20080408_LaPaz_Edit3-291Sorry for the lack of communication – we’re completely without cellphone service and for some reason the satellite phone tells us we are only allowed outgoing emergency calls, even though we should have some 400+ minutes pre-purchased minutes left on our plan. So we’re down to sailmail exclusively. However we’re headed home this Friday, back to the real world and a view of the bank protection project which has probably alienated all our neighbors by now!

We’ve been leading the perfect cruising lifestyle for the past week. On April 1 we made our appearance at Marina Palmira in La Paz to claim our slip space for the next many months, and enjoy a couple of days of “big city” amenities, but now we are off exploring the nearby cruising grounds. Just north of La Paz are a pair of islands jointly known as Islas del Espiritu Santo (Islands of the Holy Spirit). The larger is Espiritu Santo and just barely separated from it to the north is Isla Partida. The entire western shore of both these islands is gouged out with inlet after inlet; some are cozy little anchorages with just barely space for one yacht, others have more elbow room – the largest being Partida Cove between the two islands which our cruising guidebook tells us can hold upwards of 200 yachts during La Paz race week in the spring!

We are entertaining ourselves by poking Raven’s nose into each of the anchorages for a look-see and spending a night or two in the more promising ones…then moving on to the next. Each offers a striking variation of red cliffs, white sand beaches, and turquoise waters varying in shades from pale opalescent to emerald green. Sometimes we have a cove to ourselves, other nights six or eight yachts will be anchored in the neighborhood. Tonight we are in El Candelero (the candle), named for a rocky island in its center. This particular cove seems to be a mecca for kayak outfitters and there is an assortment of camping and dining tents lining the beach, with small motorized service boats coming and going, presumably delivering the ingredients for a beach barbeque and taking away the dirty dishes! A few nights ago in one of the larger bays (Ensenada Grande), the National Geographic Expedition ship anchored near us and spent most of the day ferrying its 60+ passengers ashore in big black Zodiacs, some 8-10 tourists per boatload. We bump into the same boats repeatedly as we travel cove to cove – ranging from the megayacht “Evita” with the helicopter on her deck to a rented Moorings catamaran to a single-handed 30 foot sloop

Some nights the coromuel winds start blowing 10, 20, and once up to 30 knots. Other nights (and mornings) are glassy calm, perfect for my kayaking photography excursions. Once we were driven out of a rolly anchorage in the middle of the night – the fetch of the incoming waves had Raven rocking like a pendulum; all the knick knacks were sliding off the salon table, and sleeping was impossible – so around 11 at night we fired up the Yanmar, hauled up the anchor, and motored north a couple of hours to Partida Cove where we finished the night in much more enjoyable conditions and slept in the next morning! The night sail was worth it just for the amazing phosphorescence – in addition to the usual glowing boat wake we spotted six or so huge lakes of light under the water, as big as Raven, that would spontaneously appear and then slowly fade away. I can gauge the intensity of the phosphorescence from our head (toilet) which flushes with salt water. In good phosphorescent conditions the toilet sparkles like Las Vegas!

Shore excursions vary according to conditions. One trail was flat and sandy, crossing the island from east to west in less than a mile. Other promising tracks peter out into desert bushwhacking and we come home with an array of scratches from thorns on legs and arms. Another trail went straight up a mountain gully filled with boulders – Mike and I spent about three hours total on that hike (yesterday) without coming close to the other side of the island; we figure our exercise that morning was worth at least six sessions at the gym! When we got back to the beach I dropped my backpack, emptied my pockets, and just kept going straight into the water and swam back to the boat. That’s the only time I’ve been hot enough to really enjoy a swim – the water temperature is about 71 degrees and the air temperature is nice but not hot enough to want to cool off in the ocean. Later this summer the water temperature will be in the 80s, much more to my liking.

Wildlife consists mostly of birds (and fish). On shore we might see a couple of chipmunks and lizards, but so far that’s about it. Bird species range from pelicans, seagulls and cormorants, to assorted types of herons, terns, and sandpipers…also vultures. The seagulls are nesting in the cliffs at the moment. Sea turtles cruise in the lagoons – one swam close enough to Raven last night so that I could hear him breathe when he came up for air. Sound effects are quiet and more quiet – except for the lapping of water on the hull, the splashing of small fish jumping and the bigger splash of pelicans dive-bombing the fish for their meal.

Dinner is usually something grilled on the barbeque (bolted to the railing on Raven’s stern) – chicken, steak or fish from our freezer stock. Rod is in charge of cooking and I’m in charge of washing the dishes. Evening entertainment ranges from watching the stars and playing with the phosphorescence, to watching a DVD on our flat-screen TV.

So that’s the update on what we’ve been doing for the past week or so – more of the same for another day or two, then back to La Paz to get settled and packed before catching the plane Friday morning.


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