March/April 2013

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MARCH/APRIL 2013… Ensenada to La Paz

1st March

Ensenada at Marina Coral

Arrived Ensenada, Mexico! Time to start being Cruisers. The Marina Office organised all our paperwork. A Tourist Visa and Import Vessel document. We stayed a couple of nights and then started our voyage south to Cabo San Lucas along the Baja Peninsula Pacific side. 787nm

7th March

San Carlos Anchorage, Pacific Baja Peninsula - The winds started to build and there were reports of a weather system coming down the coast so we decided to wait it out. We pulled into San Carlos Anchorage and had 3 nights at the open roadstead anchorage. NW winds up to 45 knots gusting. We put a stern anchor out which made the boat point nose into the swell – much more comfortable.

We are out of VHF range so I have been trying to use the HF radio on board. Its an ICOM710 and has been programmed with 160 channels. During the Survey the Surveyor turned it on and said 'Yeah, it works'. Now I was wondering what all the channels were and what time I was supposed to listen to them. We did manage to find a couple of Ham nets that we listened to for weather. Still its not meant to be a mystery – looks like I've got some work to do there.

We anchored here to wait out the weather.

12th March

Turtle Bay – 367nm south of Ensenada. As soon as the weather improved we moved south to Turtle Bay which was a lovely calm and protected anchorage. That means – a good nights sleep! A big Bay surrounded by desert. Not a green plant in sight. We fired up the generator for its first use – thanking ourselves for buying it as our batteries had been used heavily and must be very low. 4 hours on Bulk. Its great being able to top up – like having shore power on board. Craig connected the Solar Panels so will now get a trickle feed from them. We have some big energy users including AutoPilot, AIS, Radar, Anchor Winch, Bow Thruster and Steaming Light. We run the Fridge/Freezer constantly. I'm not sure the alternator is working efficiently.

We left Turtle Bay after a warm/sunny blue sky day. As soon as we got through the entrance we were surrounded by thick fog. We continued on, relying totally on our instruments. AIS, Radar and ChartPlotter. You really appreciate your electronics at times like these. The fog remained until well into the next morning.

Craig at the helm.


Magdalena Bay– 635nm south of Ensenada. Sailed/Motored 2 nights to arrive first thing in the morning at Magdalena Bay. There were California Grey Whales, seals, fish, pangas and fishermen, trawlers, pelicans and birds everywhere. We got through all of them and motored up to Man-O-War Cove and anchored out. A whale played nearby.

Craig ordered some diesel from the Port Captain who knew no English in the same way as Craig knew no Spanish. It was funny to watch but somehow they got their message across.

We untied the Kayak and went for our first paddle to shore. It is a little fishing village and the women and kids and dogs were going about their day as the fishermen went about their boats and nets. We sat down at WhaleBone Restaurant and had a Cerveza (beer) whilst waiting for some food to arrive. It was 10am. One of the fishermen who had come over for a chat called out to us “Amigo, Amigo” and waved for us to come and check out his catch of the day. Check the photo....he was happy. This fish was going to market.

Whalebone Restaurant at Magdalena Bay


Depart Magdalena Bay. 152nm to Cabo San Lucas. Pulled anchor and under way 0730. Finally got Sonrisa Ham Radio Net for a weather report. Now heading for Punta Tosca and once around that we straight line for Cape Cabo Falso. We do a big U-Turn around the point into Sea of Cortez and head north for La Paz .

We had around 20 knots of wind and sailed around Cape Falso, Cabo San Lucas. I saw a large humpback leap completely out of the water only a couple of hundred metres away. Boats everywhere, tourists, whale watching, fishing – it was all happening here. We decided to continue past Cabo and make it to Los Frailes anchorage (another 43nm) which would be protected in NW winds. Whales galore, a couple of dolphins, seal lions lounging on their back with their flippers in the air, pelicans & fish galore. Sunlight was fading. We were motoring (with fishing line trolling behind us) to get to our anchorage before dark. We hooked a Spotty Mackerel and it was going to be fish n chips for dinner. WooHoo....welcome to the Sea of Cortez, Mexico!

First fish of the trip.

18th March

Los Frailes at Anchor. This is where we start discussing the possibility of spending the summer in the Sea of Cortez. The idea is tempting......stop, relax, get to know the boat, get to know ourselves as cruisers, meet people, discover Mexico and then in November we could cruise south to Costa Rica and Panama....hmmm 'tis possible!'

La Paz, Sea of Cortez, Mexico Cabo to La Paz 142nm. Where Americans go to retire. No. 1 retirement destination. We booked into Marina La Paz. It was full of long term cruisers who were retirees! Lots of Canadians here too. What a great way to retire, or some people like to call it 'preferred lifestyle'.

When we decided we were going to buy a boat and go sailing, Craig found a blog from BumFuzzle. It was an American couple, Pat & Ally from Chicago who had decided to sail around the world. They were in New Zealand. So he sent them an email and offered to take them out to dinner when they got to Brisbane. We picked them up and wined and dined them at Sitar Indian Restaurant, Albion. They hadn't eaten Indian food before. Fast forward 8 years and we are now in La Paz walking down the street when Pat and his young daughter Quest walked past. Craig and I looked at each other and said “Is that Pat?” Yes it was. BumFuzzle were in La Paz! It had been so long and they had met so many more cruisers they could hardly remember us but they did remember going out to the Indian Restaurant in Brisbane!

Club Cruceros is a fabulous cruisers club here at Marina La Paz. There is a VHF Ch 22 radio net everyday for local information and 'Swap or Coconuts'. At 10am cruisers meet at the little Club House for coffee and cake, chat, book and dvd swaps. The local Cruceros members organise activities including darts, dominoes, chess, line dancing, yoga, sewing/crafts, spanish lessons, plus charity events to support local Mexicans. Just about everything you could think of.

I start attending Spanish lessons. Hola Amigo!

APRIL 2013


We want to get our Ham Radio Licences here. There is an Exam on the 10th April. If we have our licence we can log in, give our positions and participate. Without our licence we are only allowed to listen. Ham Nets are very useful for knowing where cruisers are, helping out in emergencies, providing information, weather, etc. 2 days before the exam we start to study. Craig gets 100%. I get....almost 100%. Tick.

Time passes easily. What day is it? I re-program the ICOM710 HF radio -160 channels. At least half of the old channels were obsolete. Now they are up to date. I have Safety, Weather, Time, Fax, News, Ship to Ship, Ham Radio channels and we could travel the world with all these channels. Tick.

Boat jobs are the norm as well as watching movies, TV series and reading books. And of course getting out and exploring La Paz. It takes us a day to organise our National Parks permit. Tick.

27th April

Left La Paz today and motored about 5nm north to Bahia San Gabriel, Isla Espiritu Santo. At anchor for 3 nights. Its great to be able to jump overboard for a swim in clean, clear water. Next day we get the dinghy in the water and go exploring. We check out a colony of Magnificent Frigatebirds. The male gets a big red chin/chest balloon when mating. It makes him look very attractive to the females.

This area is known for Coromuels which are a South Westerly wind that can arrive anytime late afternoon or during the night. Imagine being sound asleep and then a 25 knot SW wind blows up – that would be a Coromuel. On the last night the winds came in at 35 knots and the sea waves grew larger creating a rocking motion for the boat. We had our dinghy still with outboard mounted on the dinghy davits but at 2am there was an unusual noise as the stanchions gave way and the dinghy dropped. All hands on deck! With the wave action, the dinghy was now getting caught under the Monitor Windvane and would soon puncture. Craig cut it loose and we bought it around the side of the boat to haul it up on deck. Too much drama for that time of the morning. I was grateful that the anchor held.

Its time to strengthen the dinghy davits.

We went back to bed....but had learnt some valuable lessons. We now take the outboard motor off before hauling the dinghy up on the dinghy davits. We also take the fuel tank out of the dinghy every night. All of this extra weight was a factor in causing the stanchions to collapse. We prepare the boat as though we may have to 'up anchor' and move quickly. In hindsight, when we looked at the dinghy davit setup, we realised this incident was always going to happen. There was not enough support there and a silly plastic fitting holding it together.

29th April

It was back to La Paz for us - to get the stanchions and davit support fixed. At least our dinghy and outboard survived.

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