Isla San Francisco

Monday 19th April: Bernie finished his translation job yesterday morning so we prepped Momo and headed out of La Paz around 1630. Aiming to sail through the night, with variable and unpredictable winds forecast, we hoped for the best! The kittens hunkered down in bed with me, happily at first and somewhat disillusioned once I was on watch and getting up every 20 minutes! After a couple of hours on a port tack, the weather gods smiled on us and we were granted a following sea for the entire night! 34nm and only two jibes later, at 0730 we approached the entrance to this gorgeous bay on the south of Isla San Francisco.

A manta ray celebrated dawn with us, leaping out of the sea to our starboard, as we prepared to anchor. Only moments after setting the anchor, peering over the side into incredibly clear water, we saw a huge turtle mosey on by, below Momo, and a bunch of puffer fish. Not long after that we saw dolphins cruising round the bay and more turtles, one simply sunbathing on the surface near us. It’s so heartening to see so much sea life here.

There’s no internet and I’m dying to send pictures to Matt and Meg! I wish they were here. Meg would love being able to snorkel without getting wet! The water is that clear! After bacon and eggs for breakfast, we went for a hike, scrambling up a trail above the sea cliffs. It was a stunning view and a lot of fun. Saw lots of lizards. Its a nice beach and we’re considering introducing the kittens to sand/land! Though they’re totally entertained on board right now, chasing bees, a doubtful pastime! I believe Jack’s been stung already as he slowed down for a while.

2141! We went spear fishing after a post lunch nap, taking the dinghy round to a bay we’d seen on our walk. Really good snorkeling and a fish for cerviche. But my first attempt at using my new spear gun wasn’t a success! I shot at a hog fish, missed and realised the line had broken. So that was it for me! Bernie says he can fix it though.

Had a rather funny interaction with the yacht next to us. They radioed saying they were worried about how close we were. It wasn’t a problem, heaps of room, but the guy didn’t like me saying so and they picked up their anchor and moved. We felt a little bit bad, since we arrived after, but there really was no problem. Another yacht arrived later and almost dropped their pick between us, which would’ve made my day, but didn’t!

We’ve seen so many turtles today. Sitting on the bow for sundowners was like watching a doco on them! Just magic.

I asked Bernie if we needed to separate off the bottles this trip. If we can we take all rubbish ashore, but if it’s a long trip we have to store it on board. So we clean it and burn it on the sand when possible, saving the scraps. Glass can be filled with sea water and dumped. Its non toxic to the environment and fish love it! But Bernie misunderstood or something and told me off for a dropped egg I’d cleaned up with paper towels this morning and put in the general bin instead of the food scraps bin, which I’d totally forgotten about. So I was a bit upset. I was cooking at the time and he had the engine floor hatch up so I couldn’t move safely. So I dumped it there in the rush. I hadn’t purposely put it in the wrong place.

In an effort to brighten the mood, I agreed to watch a couple of episodes of “The good place” with him. He enjoys it, especially when he’s high, but I’m not much of a fan. I find it silly, but am not about to say that as he really loves it! I’m now cuddled up with both kitties taking up more bed than I’d like!

20.04.21: It’s 1030 now and I’ve been sitting on the bow reading, having coffee and enjoying constant visitations from turtles. It’s just wonderful to see so many. Bernie came and we did a 10 minute meditation. I had a very strong vision of the whole family at Mum and Dad’s, Matt, Meg and I all home. It was a nice feeling. I do miss them. If I can afford it, I think I’ll try and do Tomorrowland and then go home for a while.

1530: What a great day. After breakfast we took the kittens for their first shore visit. I was rather terrified, visions of them tearing up the hill in horror, us unable to catch them, torturing my brain. Bernie was more calm about it! We put them in their cat carrier and took their treats and a picnic rug with us. Once at the beach we pulled the dinghy almost entirely out of the water, laid the rug out near it and Bernie sat down. I opened the carrier and left the kittens to decide when they were ready to come out.

Far from leaping out and tearing off, as I feared, they were super cautious! With much meowing and peeping out of the dinghy like meercats, making us laugh, they were totally unwilling to brave the life of landlubbers! We bribed, called, encouraged, all to no avail. In the end we picked up one each, cuddled and reassured them, and sat on the rug. They mooched about our legs a bit, accepting our admiration, before tiptoeing across the sand and elegantly jumping back into the dinghy. Boat cats, indeed! So much for that! Realising they were unimpressed with the expedition, we took them back to the yacht. They seemed happy enough loose in the dinghy on the way but as soon as we got within jumping distance of Momo, about 1.5m, they both did awesome leaps onto their home base! Alex landed on the Danforth anchor secured outboard starboard aft! Jack was slightly more graceful. They’ve been sacked out since, exhausted apparently.

Once we were sure the cats had settled down and we hadn’t scarred them for life, guilt in our hearts, rather, we decided to go fishing. Bernie had restrung my spear gun. We went round the NW point of the bay and found great snorkeling and a good number of fish. I missed a dammed good Maori fish which are excellent eating, so I was peeved with myself. I suppose I should cut myself a little slack for it being my second ever shot with the gun! The trigger is a bit heavy on it which is a problem but I guess I’ll learn to compensate. Bernie got a magnificent Trigger fish of about 10lbs, and a hog fish, which we ate for lunch in tacos. Yum. The special fillets will be for tonight! It’s great having fresh fish again.

And Jack just got stung in the mouth by the bee she was chasing. Well. What a surprise! I had to extract the stinger with my forceps. Poor silly meow!

21.04.21: Having greeted the day fairly early, we decided to get underway and head a bit north to Isla San José. We just motored and towed the dinghy as it’s not far. It’s a pretty passage, passing Isla Cayo, Rocas de la Foca, and Isla Coyote. We anchored at the southern end of Bahía Amortajada. The plan was to take the dinghy through the mangroves to the nearby lagoon. It turned out to be a stunning trip and as we had the outgoing tide on the return trip, we floated and used oars the whole way. The quiet was magic, allowing us to hear the birds and simply soak up the atmosphere. Herons, egret and pelicans abounded. Once back on the sea we saw groups of grebes and small ducks that looked like Scaups.

After a wonderful lunch (if I say so myself!) of pan fried trigger fish fillets in butter, fresh basil, salt and lemon pepper, stir fried veges and potato/Kumara mash, we felt fortified for another adventure! Leaving the cats to chase bees (of which there are too many for my liking here), we set off to visit the salt pans at the North end of this bay. They are actually very extensive and there’s old falling down buildings and rusted out trucks and an old catapillar dozer! It was interesting and worth the long dinghy trip. We saw dolphins on the way back, and always turtles!

22.04.21: This morning we decided to motor across the Canal de San José and anchor in San Evaristo. It’s a quaint little fishing village which has a desalination plant, of all things. We don’t need water though! Bernie said that this time last year, when covid-19 was new, the locals here threw stones at yachts to make them leave. They seemed OK when we arrived today and there’s now 3 other yachts anchored here as well.

I made a coconut based Indian sauce for the rest of the trigger fish, for lunch. It was pretty yummy and there’s enough for dinner! I like that Bernie is so unfussy and eats whatever he gets without complaint!

I’m covered in little insect bites right now, so itchy! Amortajada is famous for insects unfortunately! But it was worth the visit.

Friday 23rd April: It blew like crazy all night from the West and immediately veered into the North at dawn. As we want to go north it was most infuriating! Its a solid 15 knots, gusting 20, so no point motoring into that. We want to head to Puerto los Gatos next which is 29nm so hope to sail it. Tomorrow’s another day. There were 10 yachts in here overnight but there was only 4 of us left by mid morning. We had a bit of a ly in and had more of a brunch than breakfast! After that we took the dingy ashore at each end of the bay, walking to the light on Punta Romualdo first and then to the salt pond over the hill at the north end. They were quite impressive actually. Its a stunning part of the Baja, with the towering Sierra de la Giganta mountain range behind it, its striated terrain giving an awe inspiring backdrop. A local dog followed us the whole way!

I made some guacamole on rice and quinoa flatbread mid afternoon and did some washing. I’ve just checked it hasn’t blown off the guard rails and into the next bay! I’ve read Water for Elephants again over the last couple of days. I enjoyed it just as much this time. Bernie said he’s got the movie so might give that a whirl too.

24.04.21: It’s ANZAC Day in New Zealand, the 25th. This time last year we were in lock down at Fizz’s. Crazy huh. We remember them all. ❤️

This morning we sailed off the anchor on a starboard tack, having decided to go as far as Nobolo, and if we got a good southerly on to Puerto los Gatos. However it was northerly so aimed for Nobolo. As we approached Bernie said he was just going to start the engine to check it was fine, though we planned to sail onto the anchor as well. Nothing. Didn’t even turn over. Holy foxtrot! Nobolo isn’t the greatest anchorage in terms of space, so no engine isn’t a great idea. Tacking out again, I watched while Bernie tried to work out the engine problem. After some tests he’s decided it’s the starter.

This isn’t wonderful. We basically have two options; go straight to San Carlos where he knows he can get it sorted, or go to Puerto Escondido, just south of Loreto, and a better anchorage than Loreto, to see if he can fix it himself first. As we hope to see Matt and Meg there on April 2nd, that’s the preferred option. So we’ll try for that. It’s currently 1545 and bugger all wind. Murphy is laughing at us. Could be a long night!

It’s 7pm and we’d be lucky to have home much more than a mile! Zero wind and we’ve even let the kittens out. They’re fascinated by the sails but haven’t done anything too crazy! Bernie’s on the floor with his head in the engine space. I hope he can fix it. I’m enjoying the late evening without sundowners! We’ve seen a whale, rays and turtles today. We’re stalled right at the North end of the Canal de San José.

25th April: It’s 1130 and we’ve had fairly slow going most of the night, making only about 2 knots right now. We watched a documentary about Gallipoli and I went to get my head down at about 2130. I did watch from midnight to 0930 then from 0530 to about 1030. Bernie cooked corn crepes for breaky. We’ve got about 40nm to go. Weather forecast tells us good southerlies will arrive tomorrow afternoon. We’ll be at Loreto by then! Good old Murphy!

2100: Bernie advertised on the Sea of Cortez fb page to see if anyone knows where he can get new starter parts in Loreto. He’s taken it apart and knows what the problem is now. I messaged Matt and Meg to say we were nearly here (about an hour to go) and let them know what’s going on. They fly to La Paz on May 1st and will likely bus up to meet us. Hopefully it’ll be sorted by then!

We’ve had a nice sailing day, varied winds but made better progress than we’d expected. I’m tired though, and will be glad to get the anchor down.

Monday 26th April: It was 2300 last night, by the time we’d anchored and got the sails tied down. We collapsed in the saloon, Bernie with a beer and me a whiskey! Around midnight we went to bed and I fully expected to crash but had a restless sleep in the end. Bit jaded today but its been productive nevertheless! Bernie talked to his mum and I talked to Matt, so we’re both happy! We then took the rubbish and laundry ashore and got a taxi to take us to see about the starter motor. The driver knew a good mechanic so, with trust in our hearts, we let him drive us to his mates workshop. He had excellent English so was able to help us explain what was needed and we arranged for him to pick us up tomorrow. His friend, Miguel, reckons he’ll have it fixed! Fingers crossed 🤞

We then grabbed a few groceries (even found TVP!) and stopped for lunch in town. I like Loreto and it’s so much more alive now than last time we were here back in July last year. Lots of building and road works going on. We’re back on the boat now, in hot, wet puddles of exhaustion! I need a swim.

Matt and Meg on Momo!

Friday 9th April: Totally wonderfully for me, Matt and Meg are here with us on Momo. They arrived two days ago and have settled in easily, with the kittens delighted to have more humans spoiling them! Their plans had a forced change when poor Meg had a ghastly experience going into San Francisco. She got the worst kind of immigration officers, was treated appallingly, and deported.

Forced to return to Cancún, very upset, and unsure what was going to happen with her egg donations, they got in touch with her agent in the US. While they sort out the legal mess, the family are happy for her to do it from a clinic in México. Very relieved, they’re waiting to hear when that will happen. In the meantime, they’re relaxing with us and we hope to take them sailing north with us.

We’ve had some stunning sunsets and sunrises lately. It’s hotting up now, with daily highs around 30°C. Bernie and I had a couple of days in Bahia Falsa, not far from here, but a nice change from this busy La Paz anchorage.

Wednesday 14th April: Well, we’re back in La Paz briefly, mainly to reprovision fresh stuff and wine! Matt and Meg headed off to Mexico City two days ago, on Meg’s birthday. We’d had a wonderful few days sailing with them, taking a short trip to Isla Espíritu Santo. It was Meg’s first time sailing and I’m happy to report that she loved it and didn’t get sea sick!

We had a night in Caleta Partida, which wasn’t the most inspiring anchorage, and a night in Ensenada la Gallina, the southern most bay of Puerto Ballena. Now, that is a super cool spot. So many turtles! Truly a wonderful treat. Matt and Meg were both excited beyond words! We had a nice little snorkel there too.

The sail back was fairly frisky and as it was on Meg’s birthday, I was very relieved she wasn’t sick! That would’ve been mean! But they both seemed to love it and are determined to return to us, to my joy, after her round of donation. We’ll likely sail up to Loreto and meet them there.

I had a message from Fizz, too. She’s doing a drive/cycle tour in the North Island. She detoured to Ohope and visited Danny’s roadside cross. She sent us a picture and it was nice to see people are still leaving flowers, remembering.

Plan Changes – Again!

It’s the 27th of March today and two days ago Bernie made the call to not sail across the Pacific this year. It was a hard call as it means another year away from our families, potentially. But with all the Pacific Islands except Fiji closed to yachts, it would mean a long non stop sail from here to Fiji. There’s definitely higher risks involved in that, exhaustion from no break from watch keeping, at the very least.

So after much discussion with Michelle, on Bernie’s part, and with Matt for me, we made the decision. Everyone at home understands, though they’re disappointed, of course. On the plus side, if we go next year, we’ll hopefully be able to stop frequently as things open up. It’ll be more fun and safer. Another plus for us both is that Bernie hopes his Mum will be able to come to visit us here, and I’ll get to see Matt and Meg again. They’d planned to return to Mexico between Meg’s donations, so now we can take them sailing.

One total bummer is that the NZ government have just changed the quarantine rules. To have the cost of it covered, we now have to stay in NZ for 6 months, instead of 3. Matt and Meg have cancelled their trip home over Xmas and New year. I’m not sure what I’ll do. Wait and see. If I can get vaccinated, that might change things.

Yesterday I cleaned all the snorkeling gear, which had got mouldy after so long in storage. The stuff we use a lot was fine of course, but the rest was pretty feral. It’s shiny clean now! Jack helped, my feline water baby!

After lunch, I hauled Bernie up the mast to check all the rigging and get Red the rooster down. Bernie has made a new wind vane, an Orca this time.

While he was up there, we saw a big sea lion just chilling on the surface, sunbathing and letting the current take him along!

Around 1630 we went into the marina to shower but the office was shut, so we couldn’t get passes. I decided to check the women’s shower room was shut because sometimes the door doesn’t quite latch. It was open! So, there being no one in there, I sent Bernie into the shower quickly, with orders not to finish and come out until I told him! So he got a nice long hot shower while I hurried through washing my hair and shaving! After I got out and checked the coast was clear, he scurried out and waited while I dried and combed out my hair!

Then, as newly clean and presentable sailors, a rare event, we headed out for dinner and drinks! Bernie and Kyla had gone to a wee place that he said was great. And it was. I had steamed Dorado and veges, with rice and salad. Very good, indeed. After food we headed to a beach bar for a sundowner. There was a guy playing guitar and singing County music (and no boats to rescue) so a pleasant evening. We’ve had some stunning sunsets lately.

Today is pretty windy and as the tides are Springs and opposing right now, there’s a fast current against the wind making it rougher than normal! It feels like we’re sailing! The kittens are cuddled up with me in bed, three lazy pussies! Bernie is getting a good amount of translation work so he’s busy with that today. Earlier, Alex worked out how to open my cupboard and he and Jack curled up in there for a while, one on each shelf!

Bernie had to dinghy across and check on Marten earlier, the chap we helped the other evening. I had looked out the scuttle to see what looked like him raising his anchor. Concerned, as he has no idea how to anchor, we decided to see what he was up to. Turns out he’d taken the snubber off, god knows why, and was thinking he should put it back on! So Bernie let out more chain and did it for him. The last thing we need is him dragging in this weather! He’d come straight at us.

30.03.21 : I’ve been taking Bernie up the mast to work on the new wind vane and check the rigging, the last few days. It’s a good workout! Jack only realised today where he was and seemed quite perturbed! He stared without blinking for about 5 minutes. Alex has already sussed it all out. He’s very vocal on the subject.

This morning we offered to take Marten, off Fulica, into shore to get groceries. He has no dinghy. So while he went off to do that, we checked out spear guns. I want one for myself since we’re staying another Summer. They’re pretty spency. It’s a nice walk along the sea shore though, and we indulged in an ice cream. Bernie finished mine, as the smallest was huge!

31.03.21: Last night we decided to go into the marina for drinks. Washed and dressed up, we headed off, only to have the motor stop a few minutes out. I looked towards Bernie to see why, only to realise there was no fuel tank! I burst out laughing, understanding immediately that Bernie had taken the tank onto Momo to refill it, but forgotten to put it back! He was suitably embarrassed! The tide was taking us away from Momo so he got in and tried to swim us back but made no headway really! Resigned, I stripped down to my bra and knickers, and got in! Together we towed the dinghy to the nearest yacht and knocked on her hull. Confessing his foolishness, Bernie asked the guy on board to take us back to Momo. Laughing, he did, so we invited him to go out with us, our shout, after we’d washed and dressed again! So we have a new friend! Tai. We had a fun evening with him. He’s just solo sailed down from California and was happy for company.

Today we went in, without incident and with the oars I’ve been begging Bernie to find and put in the dinghy, as a secondary means of propulsion! We got the laundry, groceries and my new spear gun!