Aug-To Northern Sea Of Cortez

3rd August

We are still inSan Carlos Marina. We are getting ready for our voyage north to Bahia Los Angeles. This is our hurricane strategy for summer in the Sea of Cortez. We will be taking everything we need for the next 2 1/2 months as there will be very little opportunity to buy supplies. For Craig, he is anxious about how much beer he thinks he needs and how much he can fit on board. We hope to leave on Saturday. We still need to refill LPG tanks, top up the diesel, do a big grocery shop and then we should be……good to go.

Marina San Carlos, Mainland Mexico

9th August

We departed San Carlos today. Passing prime real estate on the way out.

Its always good to get out of the Marina. We are heading for San Pedro and will spend the night at anchor.

10th August

Las Cocinas (The Kitchens) About 14nm north of San Carlos, Sonora, Mainland Mexico - A good anchorage in southerly winds.

The Sea of Cortez Guidebook describes the water in this anchorage as gin coloured. It is beautiful and clear and easy to see the sandy bottom. Craig dived looking for clams but couldn't find any. Only Mexicans are allowed to take shellfish but Craig wants to see what they look like. He has been told they have 2 prongs sticking out of the sand, a bit like 2 cigarette butts. When he got back on board he had no clams, 1 x sand dollar and 1 x stainless steel snap shackle! Someone has dropped the shackle overboard. I am going to paint the sand dollar. And as for the clams….still looking.

We had a delicious breakfast. Craig found this recipe and put it together in a muffin tin. Ham on the bottom, layered with tomato, cheddar cheese and then he cracked an egg on top before baking it in the oven.

Having an air conditioner on board at the marina was wonderful. The downside to that was that as soon as we unplugged and left the marina we were at the mercy of the heat again. We were struggling with it and needed to acclimatise all over again. The second night at anchor found Craig and I sleeping in the cockpit as the cabin was too warm with no breeze. It was a lovely night and the stars were shining brightly.

At anchor Pozo Moreno

11th August

The forecast is for the winds to change around to the north west so we upped anchor and moved about 1nm north to Pozo Moreno. It is a very small anchorage with room for 1 or 2 boats. There is a small fishing village on shore.

I decided to do some hull cleaning so I swam around the boat with a plastic scraper in my hand to scrape off any barnacles or excess growth. Considering we had just had 1 month in a marina the bottom was still fairly clean. Its good exercise and I usually wrap a noodle across my chest and under both arms, put my hat and sunglasses on and off I go. Of course this is all much more enjoyable when the water is crystal clear and inviting.

Cleaning the water line with a plastic scraper

12th August

We depart Pozo Moreno at 0600 for the journey north to Dog Bay, Isla Tiburon. If we average 6 knots boat speed and the distance is 54nm we should arrive in 9 hours. The anchorage at Dog Bay is protected in SE winds which have been forecast but have not yet arrived. We motor most of the way and use the water maker to make water. We can make 20litres/hour of drinkable water if we are in clean, deep water to start with. Craig tries fishing but Booby birds keep dive bombing the lure so he has to wind it in until they go away. The water is only 45-55ft deep along the coast as we head for Punta Baja. Craig eventually caught a Dorado but it was only 18" long so he threw it back. Dorado are the fastest growing fish in the ocean gaining 10lb/year so next year he will be bigger and a keeper.

As we motored along we were visited by a pelican. He landed on board and proceeded to clean himself not at all worried by us. We have seen hundreds of pelicans flying south in formation. I think they must be migrating. When I get internet access I will google it and find out where they are going to.

A good place to rest

As we approach Isla Tiburon we notice a lot of fishermen in their pangas setting traps and nets. One of the pangas with 3 fishermen on board heads towards our bow but then stops when close. We are not sure what he is doing. Is he going to warn us about their nets? Should we pass behind him? We reduce speed to neutral and let the momentum carry us forward. The young Mexican at the helm holds up an empty bleach bottle. Craig yells out Agua? which means Water? Si-yes. Craig waves for them to come alongside. The guy at the bow is about 30 and has no front teeth. The middle guy is a bit older. They are all Mexicans wearing long pants and long sleeves and no hats or sun glasses. There is no shade on board and they are sweating from the hot sun. Craig fills the bleach bottle with drinking water and I fill up a bag with mixed lollies. The big smiles were enough to say it was all appreciated. Gracias-thank you. De Nada-your welcome. Damn, I should have asked for a photograph. The fisho's are such hard workers. The ones we have seen leave home at 5am and don't get back in until just before sundown. Fresh fish are kept in holding pots until they are taken ashore. At Dog Bay we saw 2 fisho's sleep in their panga with a blanket pulled over them.

We arrive at Dog Bay, Isla Tiburon and we were the only yacht there. Just after midnight the winds pick up and gust from the SE. The island protects us from the full brunt of the winds but not from all of it as the wind passes over the island and down to our anchorage. The boat points nose into the wind but is beam on to the swell making for a rolly anchorage. It is in these conditions when it is hard to sleep as everything rolls back and forth in the cupboards, lines clang against the mast, everything rattles and the boom swings 2" this way and creaks 2" back. But at least we had protection as we were behind the island.

Dog Bay at sunset

13th August

We depart Dog Bay at 0730 heading for Isla Partida on the Baja side. Approx 46nm. We take a photo of the dog kennel on the hill as we go.

Is that a dog kennel at Dog Bay?

We head out into the channel known as Channel of Little Hell and pass Deadman's Rock as we motor through Monument Pass. It is a bumpy, rolly ride as we motor with wind against tide for the next 2-3 hours. As we move out of the channel towards Isla San Esteban the tide peaks and the sea flattens so we put the sails up and charge back across the Sea of Cortez to Baja side.

We have 15-25+ knots with the wind on our port quarter the whole way. About !/2 way across the sea lots of large dolphins join us leaping out of the air, tail slapping and showing off. I saw some whales off in the distance splashing around and having fun. It was all happening. About 15 minutes later, Craig was down below when I looked over to port side and saw a juvenile whale 10-15 feet away being guided down the port side by a dolphin. My arm started waving and pointing towards it and I tried to get my mouth to work. "Craig, Craig, its a whale!" Craigs response was "where's the camera?" I replied "Its up here." This is the best photo he could get at short notice. The whale lifted its tail and was gone. And so were the dolphins.

I think this young whale was wondering what all the fuss was about with the dolphins so it came over for a better look.

We sailed all the way to Isla Partida, Midriff Islands and arrived at 1630 to find our Aussie mates Gravel and Natalie on True Companion at anchor in the bay.

Aussies 'True Companion' at anchor at Isla Partida

We listened to the Chubasco report and Jake said "stick your head up between midnight and 1 to see if there is any lightning." What sort of report is that?! Strangely enough it was pretty accurate. At 10 minutes to midnight the Chubasco winds arrived and there was lightning in the distance. We got winds up to 35knots but this anchorage has great protection from E and SE winds so the seas were still flat. It makes all the difference. After an hour the wind had abated so we went back to bed.

14th August

We invited Gravel and Nat to come over for breakfast. Craig cooked his delicious ham/tomato/cheese/egg layered in a muffin tray recipe served with toast, hashbrowns, peach juice, tea and coffee. After breakfast they departed the anchorage and we thought we would have it all to ourselves.

Aussie cruisers Gravel & Nat

However, later in the afternoon a panga arrived at the anchorage with 4 fisho's on board and cooked themselves a meal on shore. 2 of them came out to our boat and held up a plastic bag with 4 fresh lobsters in it. He wanted to trade the lobsters for instant coffee. I am not a big coffee drinker but I like one every morning and I only have ground coffee on board and a plunger. But that wasn't much help to him. So I put the kettle on and made a big brew and we filled a 2 litre milk carton with fresh hot coffee for the 4 of them. It will probably keep them awake all night. I gave them 4 coffee bags which was all I had. They are good for passages. We gave them a bag of lollies including Chupa Chups. Also a bag of sweet biscuits, crackers and black tea bags. That should keep them going for awhile. When I get to the supermarket I am going to buy a big container of Instant Coffee - it's good for trading!

15th August

Just arrived in Puerto Don Juan anchorage, Bahia los Angeles 22nm NW of Isla Partida

This is a known hurricane hole for the Northern Sea and we wanted to check it out in case we should need to seek shelter. August and September are the 2 months that we are most likely to encounter a hurricane.

Looking north towards the window at Puerto Don Juan

Last night at sundown we were serenaded by coyotes on the beach.

Dancing Coyote On The Rocks….sounds like a cocktail I haven't invented yet

There are 4 young pups

As soon as Craig dropped the lure this Grouper jumped on the hook.

Who is here?

Currently at this anchorage there are 8 monohulls and 1 trimaran. The largest is a 78 foot ferro cement ketch. 2 NZ, 1 Aussie and the rest Canadian and Americans. 4 boats have couples on board, 5 boats are solo sailors of which 4 are men and 1 is a woman. Mary is 75 and has previously done a solo circumnavigation. Her boat is the smallest at 28 feet. Alan who is a solo sailor has a 57 foot timber boat which he built himself. It has no engine. He is about to careen it on the beach and he has lots of helping hands from fellow cruisers.

Careening Sara M-57ft timber boat, no engine, solo sailor

His hull was leaking. He has a limited time to find the leak and fix it before the tide comes in.

This is the 'after careening' Pot Luck on the beach. Everyone brings a plate to share.

20th August

It's a Full Moon. A Full Moon Party has been organised at Ensenada la Gringa. Lots of boats are heading north for it. We depart Don Juan anchorage and motor around to Bay of LA village (6nm) to get a few supplies before we depart for la Gringa (6nm). Craig lets it be known that he is interested in a race so Ray & Chicgaila on board Sea Note accept the challenge. It only takes 2 boats to make a race. Anchors up at 1230. We were slow getting our anchor up and Sea Note took full advantage of it. We pulled out our 140% Genoa and by the first mark we were side by side.

Sea Note racing towards Ensenada la Gringa

A large black Fin Whale suddenly appeared on the port bow and left a big swirl as it dove down under boat.

Only a mile out we were becalmed and bobbing. Glancing back we saw Sea Note approaching. Luckily for us we were the first to get the breeze which was enough for us to sail into the anchorage. We had to dodge the kayakers who were chasing the Whale Sharks before we could drop anchor. We enjoyed beer & pizza on Sea Note. It was a fun day.

Welcome to La Gringa

Mexicans fishing

Boats gathering for the Full Moon Party tomorrow

21st August

Today is Party Day. There is a Floaty competition which lots of boats are taking very seriously.At 4.00pm everyone is going to gather with their floaties and we are all going to float down along the lagoon. This will be followed by a beach Pot Luck at 6.30pm. Craig and I will be working on our floaty today.

Some people have been working on their floaties for weeks. There are 4 prizes. The Aussies took 2 of them.

1. Best noodle floaty

We won! Best Noodle Floaty.

2. Best 'whatever you find in your bilge' floaty

And the winners were Canada. They built a raft with a spinnaker.

3. Best store bought floaty

Gravel bought all of his Pacifico beer at a store.

Ben won 'best dressed' as a shipwrecked kid

Bluey loves a pool party.

26th August

We are keeping an eye on the weather conditions as there is a Low developing south of Cabo which has an 80% chance of becoming a Hurricane in the next 5 days. It is predicted to track in a north west direction along the Baja Peninsula although a change of direction of 2 points could see it come right up the middle of the Sea of Cortez. Its a "J" storm Juliette. The last one was "Ivo" and the next will be a "K" storm. Historically "J" storms have a record for coming into the Sea. This one didn't but the next 6-7 weeks will be the most intense weeks of hurricane season for cruisers in the Sea of Cortez.

28th August - Whale Sharks!

All I could here was Craig yelling "They're here, they're here! Hurry up, get in, the Whale Sharks are here. There's one right beside the boat!" I grabbed my snorkelling gear and was straight in followed by Craig. Craig also grabbed the GoPro and was so excited he filmed the whole thing upside down. Be sure to check out our GoPro Movie"Swim with the Whale Sharks." (You can click on it here or go to Movies) There were 2 of them swimming around and we estimate they were around 20-25 feet in length. It was fantastic.

Some information on Whale Sharks (from Sea of Cortez A Cruiser's Guidebook) Whale Sharksare the largest species of fish, weigh up to 15 tons, grow up to 46 feet. Although it is a shark, it is a gentle giant which appears indifferent to snorkelers and divers. With a 5 foot wide mouth it is a filter feeder devouring millions of plankton, phytoplankton, krill and macro algae. To swim, the shark uses its entire body and can achieve a speed of 5km/hour. The females are larger than the males and give birth to numerous live young. They have very distinctive yellow spots and stripes over their grey bodies and average life expectancy is 60-150 years. They are found world wide.

There is another weather system developing so we decided to race Lungta, SeaNote and Sara M back to La Mona. It was a slow start but a fast race as the winds picked up to 20+ knots. We all raced at full speed in front of the Bay of LA Village, across the bay and back to La Mona. Other boats were calling in on VHF Channel 68 giving updates and cheering us on. It was alot of fun and we got there quicker than if we had motored.

Lungta with sails up and waiting for the wind to arrive.

Sea Note and Sara M already underway.

28th August Anchored at La Mona, Bay of Los Angeles

Steady rain arrives. It is so nice when you haven't had any for months.

A spot of fishing at La Mona on a rainy day.

This impromptu rain catcher gave us about 30 litres of fresh water.

Sunset at La Mona

Craig under the rainbow - standing in the Pot of Gold!

Kiwi Kevin from Entre Nous, Craig and I go for a hike up one of the valleys at La Mona.

Looking out over La Mona

Lots of granite boulders and a lone cactus.

Last day of August

Craig went into the Bay of LA Village to see if he could get any fresh produce. I stayed on the boat and did some hand washing. There is no washing machine on board and it would use too much water anyway.

Laundry day on True Blue V

All 6 of the boats anchored at La Mona meet up for a Pot Luck on the beach. Everyone brings a plate and we all share. Tomorrow we are going to head north to Alcatraz Bay.

True Blue V 2016