Thursday, November 24, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving

From the warm waters of the Sea of Cortez, Mexico, we wish all our family and friends back home a very happy Thanksgiving! We sure wish we could sit down to a delicious dinner with the family today, but we're thankful to be out here on this incredible journey together.

Oh, and we're thankful to be wearing shorts and flip flops in November.

Happy Thanksgiving!

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Sunday, November 20, 2011

Eating stuff

By Aaron

We’re in La Paz and haven’t been able to resist eating out.  A lot.  The prices are good and the food has been excellent. 

IMG_7219It’s hot out here, gotta stay hydrated!

Today we had dinner at the Super Burro.  And lunch was at The Shack with new friends from SV Ventured. 

IMG_7265The perfect atmosphere for an awesome cheeseburger

IMG_72661/2 lb burgers cooked up over a mesquite fire… you can’t catch a whiff of that and just walk by

IMG_7264Cheeseburger in paradise

IMG_7263Better throw in a bucket of Pacificos to wash down that burger

In most restaurants when I write on the walls they kick me out.  But The Shack heartily encourages it, and the walls are covered with boat names.  So of course I added ours.

IMG_7262More cruiser graffiti

We celebrated Nicole’s birthday a few days ago.  We walked through town and were considering several restaurants, but the patio at La Boheme was absolutely beautiful.  It’s owned by a French couple and wow, they know how to cook!  The service was excellent and we couldn’t have had a better dining experience for Nicole’s birthday.


IMG_7227The birthday girl

We’re going to head out of La Paz tomorrow and cruise around Isla Espiritu Santo for a week or so.  But then we’ll be coming back so we’ll try to write up a post about La Paz.  It’s been a super social stop for us with lots of partying!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Playa Bonanza

By Aaron

The Latitude Reduction Program has been briefly suspended while we work our way north into the Sea of Cortez.  We left Cabo bound for Caleta Lobos, an overnight sail to the north from Cabo.  We had fantastic sailing out of Cabo for about 50 miles until the wind died.  The seas went glass flat and we motored on into the night. 


For most of my watch it absolutely poured rain.  I thought this area gets about 4 inches of rain a year?  About 40% of that came down that night.  I handed the helm over to Nicole at 0200 in these conditions and went to bed.  She woke me up a few hours later as the conditions had worsened substantially.  We went from no wind to 25 knots on the nose and very large, steep seas in just a few hours.  By 0700 we were only 10 miles from our intended anchorage but the seas kept getting worse with wind gusting to 29 knots and an opposing current.  We buried the bow several times and took quite a beating with green water raining down all over us.  We were only able to make about 2.5 knots into the wind at best, and the engine was running hot with the work.  We were considering turning around and heading to the anchorage at Ensenada de Los Muertos about 45 miles to the south, but that would cost us most of the day backtracking miles we’d already traveled all night long.  But tt was starting to get pretty scary and the current course simply wasn’t going to work.  We were in full foulies and soaked.  The mood was grim.  A quick check with the Sea of Cortez Cruising Guide showed an anchorage just 5 miles to the north of us at Playa Bonanza on Isla Espiritu Santo.  We changed course for that which put the seas on the port quarter and allowed us to comfortably make 5 knots to the anchorage.  We’d intended to just stay a few hours and wait for the wind to die down so we could carry on, but it looked nice (plus we were damn tired) so we decided to stay the night. 

Which brings me to a side note… I’ll tell you this about cruising, it can go from full on 100% suck (WTF are we doing this for?) to full on awesome (this is the best thing we’ll ever do!) unbelievably fast.  And vice versa.  Fortunately things went from suck to awesome once we anchored.

IMG_7193Our backyard at Isla Espiritu Santo

The next day we went to shore and checked out the island.

DSC_1023We combed the beach for interesting shells

DSC_0946We checked out the island’s inland bits

DSC_0939We walked along a dried up arroyo

DSC_0960We checkout out some big cacti

IMG_7206And some little ones


DSC_1024We saw strange tracks in the sand and decided not to see where they went

DSC_1027We walked among huge white sand dunes

DSC_1036And jumped off the tops

DSC_0973We headed towards Punta Morritos which was miles down the beach… but we had time

DSC_1006And if you’re going to walk all way way to the point, you might as well climb to the top

DSC_1015-2I can see my house from here!

DSC_1005I don’t think we’ll be able to land on 100 islands in Mexico like we did in Canada, but Nicole conquered this one anyway, for old time’s sake

IMG_7212And for us no hike is complete without an arm-shot

IMG_7213So after all that hard work, we got back to the boat around 3pm and I enjoyed  a good book with a couple glasses of Scotch to wind down.  All the more satisfying when it’s 75  degrees in November and you’re drinking during business hours on a Tuesday.

Sunday, November 13, 2011


By Nicole

Cabo is crazy!  But in a good way.  You can’t help but feel like you’re on vacation here.  The anchorage is nuts, with jet skis, water taxis, parasail boats, ski boats towing wake boarders, stand-up paddleboards, kayaks and Hobie cats all zipping in between anchored boats (including an anchored cruise ship).  It’s like rush hour, except everyone is traveling 55mph and no one is obeying any traffic laws. 

Some of the craziness in the anchorage

Practically as soon as we got the anchor down, we were in our swimming suits jumping off the boat into the crystal clear, teal-colored water. What a milestone!  We swam around Bella Star for an hour or two (staying right near the boat to avoid being run down by wild drivers). Estrellita even kayaked over and swam around with us – so much fun!  So much fun, in fact, that no one bothered to take pictures.  Next time, I swear.

Riding the water taxi into town for a few groceries (and a beer) after our swim

We are digging the weather here.  I even made dinner last night in my bathing suit!  And thanks to our friends on s/v Navigo who brought over fresh mahi-mahi for us, we had some delicious grilled fish tacos.  Aaron declared that he could probably eat them every night.  Mmmm.

Yeah, it’s kind of a zoo and the anchorage is a tad rolly, but the beach is beautiful, the ocean is warm, the sun is hot and the vibe is definitely “party” – what more could you want?

The famous rock arch welcomes boaters to Cabo

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Whale strike

By Nicole

“Aaron! We just hit something!”

But he didn’t need me to tell him – he felt it too, and dashed up the companionway steps to join me in the cockpit.

We were a day into our two-day passage from Bahia Tortugas to Bahia Santa Maria off the southern coast of Baja, out of sight of land and in over 500’ of water, when we heard a loud BAM! and felt the boat shudder as it rode up and over something.  Oh no.

Aaron was washing lunch dishes in the galley, while I was zoning out at the waves and keeping an eye peeled for sea critters.  A small whale (a Minke, we think) had been following us for a number of miles, just milling around.  We’d watch him occasionally surface a few feet from the boat, and at one point he was so close that I had to wipe whale spray off my glasses.

With Aaron now up in the cockpit and our adrenaline pumping, we quickly surmised that we’d struck the tag-along whale.  We scanned the water for any sign of the whale or its injuries, but, fortunately, all we saw were the blue waves rolling by.  A swift check confirmed that weren’t taking on water, so our thoughts turned to the steering system.  Did the whale damage the rudder?  Bend the rudder shaft?  Would be be able to steer?

Our hearts were still racing as we turned a full 360° circle to port and then back to starboard without any trouble.  Aaron grabbed the flashlight and dove into the lazarette (the area under the cockpit) to inspect the rudder post for signs of damage.  Fortunately, it looked fine too.

It was then that we noticed the whale was back.  Was it injured?  Curious?  Playing?  Pissed?  Whales have been known to sink boats, and in fact, a boat sunk off Baja a few years back after striking a whale.  Our assumption was that we collided with the whale on accident – perhaps while it was dinking around under the boat, it moved up as we came off a wave and moved down.  But how were we to know for sure?

Aaron immediately hailed our friends on Estrellita who were making the same passage, although they were about 15-20 miles west of us.  We thought everything was okay, but we wanted someone to know our position just in case.  Estrellita offered to adjust their course to intercept us, and they did just that two hours later. 

Boy, were we happy to see them come over the horizon.

Thanks for changing course for us, guys! 

Estrellita running downwind, hiding behind a wave

After our nerves calmed down a bit, Aaron said that we were actually lucky.  “Not very many people can say they’ve hit a whale.”  I told him to go buy us a lottery ticket.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

What is the best Mexican beer?

By Aaron

It’s an important question.  One that requires some considerable research.  SV Estrellita procured 12 different Mexican beers and we did a blind taste test.  In the name of science!  (Also celebrating their 500 days of cruising milestone, and our 6 month milestone.)

See their post on the best Mexican beer here.

The clear winner was Bohemia!

P1030029 (1280x960)_thumb[2]

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Isla Cedros

By Nicole

After a two-night passage from Ensenada, complete with breaching humpback whales during the day and a sky full of stars at night, we arrived at Isla Cedros.  And for the first time since Canada, we had an anchorage all to ourselves.  I tell you what, after spending more than a week in the noisy, dusty boatyard, being anchored off a beautiful island with only the sound of seabirds and waves to break the silence was heaven.

Approaching Isla Cedros, Baja California

We anchored off a gravel and cobblestone beach near a large arroyo (dry stream bed). The water is so clear that we could actually see all the way down the anchor chain to the white sand below (in 20’ of water). I’m sure that’s something we’ll see more of in the coming months, but it was a first for us.

Bella Star at anchor

Wanting to explore a little bit and work off at least one or two of those fish tacos, we ventured out on a hike up the arroyo.  The landscape here is arid, rocky and dotted with cacti and other brown, shrubby bushes (boy, do I need a field guide…).  I’m sure after a good rain, when the desert plants are in full bloom and the arroyo is running with water, it’s a completely different place.  As we hiked further up the stream bed, we could almost picture what it would look like with water cascading over giant boulders, pooling in deep crevices and running its way to the sea.

Winding our way over and around rocks as we followed the stream bed

Interesting succulents/cacti that resembled gigantic artichokes

Hiking east to the ridgeline

We found evidence that someone trekked here before us (they left a sign in rocks that said “2007”).  They also left all sorts of rock towers (Aaron added to them as we went by).  Makes me wonder just how often this arroyo actually sees water.

An amazingly blue sky (and Aaron out in front)

We weren’t the only critters to follow the arroyo… Aaron claimed it was a chupacabra.  Watch out!

A lone crow gave us the eye

Back on the boat, we lounged around in the sun, watched schools of fish and tiny squid (?) get terrorized by seabirds and managed to finish up a few projects.

Being anchored off Isla Cedros felt like a return to cruising – the kind of cruising we experienced in Canada, where we were surrounded by nature and solitude.

Since leaving Washington two months ago, we’ve travelled over 1,500 miles.  It’s been a long, foggy, chilly road, but we finally feel like we’ve made it to the Mexico we dreamed about on those dreary Seattle evenings, holed up from the rain.  Fittingly, on the very day we arrived at Isla Cedros, we celebrated 6th months of cruising.  And how better to celebrate than anchored out in brilliant blue water under sunny Mexican skies.

Happy Halloween

From Baja California, Mexico, we wish you a frightfully delightful Halloween (even if it’s a couple days late)!


Needless to say, we didn’t get any trick-or-treaters this year.