Thursday, July 26, 2012

San Carlos - A Pleasant Surprise

When we left Santa Rosalia, we headed eighty miles north to San Francisquito. The first day of the trip consisted of calm winds so we motored all the way to Punta Trinidad (about half way). During this leg of the trip we had more fishing action than the rest of our 5 months combined. Someone had thrown the "switch" we had been hearing about to start the good fishing season apparently.

First Dorado
We caught a 32" Dorado, which was quite exciting to real in compared to our previous skip jacks. Somehow Anne-Marie convinced me that we should put the lures back in, since we could handle one more fish. Despite my better judgement I agreed and we reset the reel and hand line. Thirty minutes later we had two more Dorado on the line simultaneously! One on the reel and one on the hand line. Catching two at the same time hadn't even occurred to me, since our usual problem was never catching anything!

Second Dorado!
The Dorado on the hand line was even bigger, at 36"! Clay pulled it in with ease on the 200lb test hand line. The one on the reel was another story. It was whipping the line off the reel even at maximum resistance. It took all we had to make any progress against it. "Luckily", it solved our problem of too much fish by breaking the line and escaping. It must of been massive, as novice fishermen we should have let it get more exhausted before reeling it in so aggressively... you live you learn you loose lures.

From Punta Trinidad to San Francisquito was uneventful, and we enjoyed a couple days there waiting for a weather window to cross the Sea of Cortez (approximately 80 miles). There are a lot of thunder storms this time of year on the mainland side, and it is best to avoid them while crossing. One day we got up at midnight to inspect the thunder bumper situation, that is what Geary the local weather man calls thunder storms, and it looked relatively calm. We took off into the night at about 1:30AM and had a 16 hour crossing to the mainland. The weather forecast was a bit off unfortunately, and we ended up pounding into the waves all the way there on a close haul (30 degrees off the wind), as opposed to the more comfortable close reach (45-50 degrees off the wind) which was forecast.
Hiking at San Francisquito
The poor weather forecast may have actually been to our benefit though, as we may not have visited some really amazing anchorages north of San Carlos if the wind hadn't blown us more north. Most of the people we have spoken to during our time cruising have told us that there is not much happening on the mainland side of the Sea of Cortez (from Mazatlan north). Which is certainly true when one just looks at the number of anchorages on the mainland side of the Sea of Cortez, but the two anchorages we visited were right up there with the best the Baja peninsula has to offer.

The anchorages we went to were Las Cocinas, and San Pedro. Both had the best water visibility we had seen in the Sea of Cortez so far, and had beautiful red rock formations along the shore. We look forward to sharing this area with Anne-Marie's parents when they come to visit in October.

Las Cocinas 
Sea Caves at Bahia San Pedro
Red rocks at sunset Bahia San Pedro
Sunset Bahia San Pedro
Clay and Starship
Right now we are in San Carlos doing boat projects and preparing to put Starship to bed for the summer. We are getting out just in time (perhaps a little too late!), as the heat is getting excruciating. Even the simplest of boat projects results in sweat streaming off your body. The other day I was just unscrewing our SSB (4 screws), and I was soaked in sweat! That was at 7:30AM... we took the rest of the day off.

Opie enjoys San Carlos! 
We look forward to spending a couple of months back in Canada visiting family and friends. That way we will miss the worst of the hurricane season, and the best of summer/fall in Canada. In mid October the journey will continue, as we explore the Pacific coast of mexico (Puerto Vallarta, Zihuatanejo, etc...) before jumping the puddle.

For more pictures of our trip to San Carlos, checkout the Picasa album (click picture or link below):
Santa Rosalia to San Carlos

San Carlos, Mexico

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Clay's Time Aboard Starship

I have been in Baja for slightly over a month with Anne-Marie and Chris staying aboard Starship. The cruising lifestyle is almost exactly the way I imagined it would be. The one major difference is that I though there would be much more free time. Going grocery shopping in Loreto took almost the entire day and was one of the best workouts I have had in years, and going for a hike and snorkeling can make an entire day disappear.

This trip began exactly how I wanted it to. My sister gave me a haircut that my mother would strongly disapprove of.

As we traveled north along the coast of Baja we went from anchorage to anchorage staying at each for roughly 5 days at a time. Our biggest pastime so far has been snorkeling. I was amazed by the amount of fish that would be swimming around you.

As I snorkeled Annie and Chris would go spearfishing. Chris is the spearfishing expert of Starship and would often bring back fish for dinner.

Chris was kind enough to share some of his spearfishing wisdom with me. He showed me certain fish which were good to eat that you could shoot. One day while attempting spearfishing I was very determined to come back with a kill. While surveying the area from above I spotted a hogfish (known to be rather challenging prey). It looked like one of the biggest fish I had ever seen while snorkeling. My primal hunting instincts immediately kicked in and without hesitation I dove down and shot the fish in the spine instantly paralyzing it.

At least that's how I saw it. But here's what really happened...

Chris told me that he believed a type of fish called sweet lips would be hanging around this one rock. After swimming around there for 10 minutes I saw a bunch of fish I believed were sweet lips. I am not very good at identifying fish, so I reported my findings to Chris. He told me to go for it. After 10 more minutes of hesitation I dove down, tried to shoot at the head of one of the fish, and missed by a mile. A few minutes later I saw another one and dove down. This time I aimed for the body instead of the head, and somehow shot its spine and paralyzed it.

Once I had my kill back at the dingy I could tell that it was rather small fish and clearly not a sweet lips. It was quite purple at spots and only has a small amount of yellow on the tail. Chris confirmed these suspicions. Back at the boat Annie identified it as a hogfish. Surprisingly the fish guide book said they were easy to kill while spearfishing (I think the book must have its facts wrong). But luckily the book said these fish were good to eat so it wasn't a waste. Chris also killed a previously unknown type (we still aren't sure of its name). They were both quite delicious!

My fish
Chris' fish
We also have done quite a lot of hiking. One hike in particular was quite memorable. We left early in the morning in an attempt to avoid the hottest part of the day. This seemed to have little to no effect on me. I sweated more than what I thought was humanly possible. At times I considered giving up, but by the time we got to the top I was very glad I didn't. The view was incredible!

At the top of the mountain there were very interesting rocks. If you hit the boulders with smaller rocks they rang loudly and sounded like bells. On the way down the mountain we also saw hieroglyphs.

Besides that we have been kitesurfing, making delicious food, cooling off in the water, eating ice cream every chance we get, and having the occasional siesta.

Despite the bug infestation, bee swarms, and dingy explosion, I have thoroughly enjoyed my month aboard Starship. My lovely sister (Anne-Marie) and her super cool husband (Chris) have been extremely welcoming throughout the entire trip. They have made it a truly enjoyable and unique experience for me. I can't wait for the last 3 weeks and I will be sad when it all comes to an end.

For MANY more pictures, be sure to check out our web album!
Loreto to Santa Rosalia

Santa Rosalia