Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Loving La Paz

We’ve been anchored outside of the city of La Paz for about a week and we’re really loving it. La Paz seems to us to be the complete opposite of Cabo San Lucas.  La Paz is very non-touristy, the prices are amazing, the people are super friendly, there’s an amazing cruising community, the food is delicious....the list goes on. We feel really comfortable and content here.  An advantage of being in a non-touristy city is that we have to use Spanish almost daily to get by. We’re learning a lot and also laughing at our selves for the funny things we say accidently.

Here are a few pictures to illustrate how much we love La Paz…

Super yummy 13 pesos (=1USD) hot dogs

Beautiful waterfront that stretches on for miles (great for runs)

People are super friendly (and not just when it’s Carnaval)

The wind was howling today, so we broke out the kitesurfing gear. The conditions we found were the best ever…. a consistent 15 knot side/onshore breeze (perfect 12 m kite weather), an endless beach and warm water.  On top of all that, I had one of my most memorable sessions ever because I kitesurfed with a pod of dolpins. It was amazing to be so close to the “most excellent creatures” again.  I was just kiting along and looked to the left and saw a dolphin and then looked to the right and saw a dolphin. And this happened for a few tacks.  I pretty much couldn’t stop smiling. It was one of the most breath-taking moments of my life :)

We’ve met an awesome cruising couple (Drew & Shelly s/v Born Free) who have kite gear and some limited kiting knowledge and are eager to learn more. Here’s a picture of instructor Chris in action.

In other news… we’ve decided to spend a year in Mexico and do the puddle jump in 2013. On day 2 of our journey from San Diego to Cabo, we were sitting in the cockpit together. As I watched the water go by, I realized that I was absolutely and completely content with my life at that moment. I didn’t want the trip to end and I was already looking 12 months ahead. Without thinking, I blurted out to Chris “why are we only doing this sailing thing for a year?”. Without thinking he responded, “because you want to have a baby”. “Oh yeah…” I thought… I enjoy plans and sticking to them, so I was hesitant to follow my gut feeling of staying in Mexico for a year, but I’m so glad that we will be.  After all of the money and time we put into getting Starship ready, I’m happy that we’ll have another year to enjoy her.  Also, the more I cruise Mexico, the more I love it here.  The Sea of Cortez is a wonderfully isolated place that is brimming with sea life (and the kiting is amazing). I’m also happy to have an extra year of sailing experience before we cross the world’s largest ocean.

La Paz

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Puerto Balandra was Goregous

Feb 19, 2012
These pictures are from a snorkeling trip we took with our dingy named "Twinkle" at Puerto Balandra.    The cove had very flat water, so we were able to row Twinkle everywhere. 
A crab pretending to a be stone (above) 
The trip ended with sunbathing on the beach and little contest. Guess who won?
 Our beautiful home in a very calm anchorage. (above)

Feb 20, 2012
We rowed to land to explore the "El Hongo" (the mushroom) rock formation and hike to the top of a near by hill. The views from the hike were amazing and gave us an even greater appreciation of the beauty of the cove we were anchored in. 

Puerto Balandra

Friday, February 24, 2012

TUNA (Ensenada de los Muertos)

Feb 15 - 19, 2012

We left for Ensenada de los Muertos bright and early (4 am).  The seas were very lumpy, we were close-hauled and we were fighting the current, so it wasn’t a pleasant ride.  Chris and I were both feeling a bit queasy and getting splashed by spray in the cockpit. We were motor sailing so that we could make some progress. But for whatever reason, we were both in a very goofy and happy mood. We would randomly yell out to the seas phrases such as “monkeys”, “yeahng” and “living the dream” and find it absolutely hilarious.

By noon the tide started to switch in our favor and the seas calmed, so we could finally turn off the engine. It’s such a wonderful feeling to pull the kill switch and just hear the sound of water rushing past Starship’s hull.  

With the engine off and both of us feeling better, I decided to try our luck at fishing.  10 minutes after we dropped in our lure the rod started screeching.  Oh goodness….what are we supposed to do now? Chris started to reel in the fish as I grabbed our limited supplies (net, club, knives) and our fishing book.  We finally got the fish by the boat, but getting it on board was quite the ordeal. Every time the net would touch the fish it would jump out. Maybe we should have gotten one of those gaff things. It didn’t help that Starship was still sailing along at 5 knots. Next time we should definitely heave-to or at least slow down the boat A LOT when we’re trying to get a fish on board. With the fish finally on board, I clubbed it, covered it with a damp towel and started to frantically read the “how to clean a tuna” pages. Cleaning a fish for the first time was an interesting experience, especially aboard a heeled sailboat, but I think I did pretty well. I highly recommend “The Cruiser’s Handbook for Fishing” by Scott and Wendy Bannerot, the detailed picture instructions were great and the book has lots of good recipes as well.

Chris was often nowhere to be found during the cleaning process, but he was very happy to eat the tuna afterwards :) It was a thrilling experience to catch, clean and prepare a fish aboard Starship. I hope this is the start of lots more catches to come.

In Ensenada de los Muertos there was a stiff off-shore breeze…perfect for dingy kitesurfing. It was pretty gusty, so it ranged between the kite falling out of the sky to terrifyingly holding on for dear life. Very exhausting and fun!

We also tried to unsuccessfully score some showers at a hotel near by. After asking the manager, she looked at us pretty strangely and said, “WHERE are you coming from?” At least we got to use the Internet and drink a few beers (Thanks for the Valentine’s day gift Herb and Michelle!).

The hotel was gorgeous and had a crazy train display. It was really sad to learn that they had absolutely no guests. The economy and US ban on travel to Mexico has been devastating….

I’ll remember Ensenada de los Muertos as a beautiful, cold, windy and deserted cove.

Ensenada de los Muertos

Thursday, February 23, 2012

San Jose del Cabo to Los Frailes

After our long night on the water post spinnaker mishap, boy was it ever nice to be in the Puerto Los Cabos Marina! The marina is still under construction but things are still nicer than most US marinas I have been in.

The funniest thing was when we finished with the spinnaker, and looked around the marina we realized people were riding dolphins in a little pen just across the channel from us. After seeing these most excellent creatures in the wild though it is kind of sad to see them turning tricks in a marina for fish.

That night we went out for a nice dinner, drank some cervesa and got a much needed restful night sleep. It was the first time Starship had been tied to a dock since San Diego and it was a little strange to have it so calm, but it did make for good sleeping.

The next day we resumed our journey to Los Frailes, approximately 20NM from from Puerto Los Cabos. Thankfully this time the trip was smooth sailing, with no wind in the morning we motored, then sailed the rest of the way on a moderate breeze. We saw a lot of whales and jumping sting rays on the trip which was really interesting. Unfortunately they are very difficult to photograph, but Anne-Marie was trying hard.

As we approached Los Frailes we could see we had discovered the Mexico we were looking for...a seemingly endless white sand beach with hardly any sign of civilization in sight. The cove has a small fishing camp (5-10 pangas) and people in RVs park in the arroyo which drains into the bay. There were also a few dozen houses, and a hand full of small hotels/rental properties, but it seemed like most were empty.

The first day we spent an uncomfortable afternoon on the boat keeping an anchor watch, as a strong SE wind and swell had built (the worst combination for this anchorage). Our anchor was holding strong so we decided to ride it out until sunset and if it was still looking bad we would head out to the next anchorage. Luckily it started dying down over dinner and we had another peaceful night sleep.

The second day brought a NE wind (which is good for this anchorage), which was just strong enough to try some kitesurfing. We took the dingy a few miles down the beach loaded with our gear and gave it a try. It was just barely kiteable, and quickly faded to be too weak, but the location was so amazing that it made it a very memorable session.

On our last day we relaxed on board and did some snorkeling along the rocks around Los Frailes. It was nice to spend some time in clear, warm (by California standards) and shallow water with and abundance of life.

Los Frailes Baja Mexico

Saturday, February 18, 2012

It's not all smooth sailing...but we're still having fun :)

Here are few of our more exciting (not in a good way) sailing/boat adventures. We'll update soon with more stories...

Feb 8, 2012
We had quite the exciting morning. The wind was blowing really loudly in the morning, so I got out of bed to make sure everything was ok. It then started raining and I was just turning on the instruments panel to check the wind speed, when I saw a giant flash of white. One of our huge white cockpit cushions had flown overboard and was quickly going downwind towards the cruise ship anchored here in the Cabo bay. I yelled at Chris to get up and we lowered the dingy and put the outboard motor on it. He then zoomed to the cushion quickly and another little port boat followed him yelling at him to stay 200 m away from the cruise ship. He luckily could grap the cushion and then motored back to Starship. We were so close to loosing our cushion and learned a valuable lesson of never leaving anything on deck overnight that is not tied down (no matter how calm it is when you go to bed).

Feb 10, 2012
Chris and I have had quite the exciting 16 hours. We were having a great sail yesterday and decided to try and make it to Los Frailes. When we were 8 miles past the San Jose del Cabo marina, the wind died so we turned on the engine. As the sun was setting the propellor suddenly stopped rotating. We thought we had hit something and then quickly realized that our spinnaker had come loose off of the deck and was caught on the prop. We lowered the dingy and were able to get the spinnaker off of our rudder and partially on the boat. So the good news was that we could sail/steer, even though we couldn't start the engine....So we decided to sail back towards the marina and hove to (  outside of the entrance until the sun rose. We then made a plan to dock in the marina under sail. Tacking up in the channel was working well until we realized that the tide was ebbing and we were making little to no progress towards the dock with the fluky winds in the marine, so we gybed and got out of there. We then anchored under sail in a near by cove and a boat from the marina towed us to the dock. Chris had luckily just been reading about free diving so he was able to free the spinnaker from our propellor using his diving skills and our snorkel gear. The propellor and motor are fine and spinnaker is torn, but is reparable.

We've learned a lot from this experience, the main thing being to never leave a huge sail bag on deck, no matter how well secured it is. I was also very happy about our heaving-to, sailing into the marina attempt, anchoring under sail and chris' diving skills. These last few hours have been more exciting than I've wanted, but I'm very happy with how the 2 of us handled the mini crisis on Starship.

San Jose Del Cabo

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Delayed Leaving Cabo and Blog Enhancements

We have delayed our departure from Cabo San Lucas a day or two. It took us quite a bit longer than expected to grocery shop the other day, and we're pretty exhausted after hauling all the groceries back to the dingy.

Hopefully we will be out of here on Thursday or Friday. The video below really captures our feelings about getting out of here...

Also just a note on some blog enhancements/features. Usually our blog posts have pictures within them, but we also post even more pictures to online albums. Up till now the extra pictures have only been available via the Recent Adventures area on the right, which displays the latest photo album. Now we have also added the Blog Navigation area on the right, which has a link to Photos and Videos that we have taken.

Cabo San Lucas

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Cabo San Lucas - Sensory Overload

After spending eight days sailing and seeing only a hand full of boats, Cabo San Lucas totally overloads your senses. There is so much going on it is hard to keep track of it all... glass bottom taxi boats zipping every which way past Starship at anchor, tourists on Jet Skis going wild, stand up paddlers, parasailers waving to us from the sky and Hobbie cats going all over the bay.

On top of that, on Saturday night it sounded like we were anchored off the set of a girls gone wild video shoot, as all we could here from the hotels nearby were disk jockeys shouting "Chug! Chug! Chug!", "Mexican Water for Everyone!!" and "Dance Sexy! Sexy!!".

Despite all the rampant tourist trap aspects of Cabo San Lucas, it is also amazingly beautiful! The bay is large with clear water and the peninsula which protects the bay has amazing rock formations and beaches.

Sunday we went over to Playa del Amor (Lovers Beach), which surprised both Anne-Marie and I with its beauty. It looked cool from Starship, but once you got close to the rocks and could see all the details it was surreal.

While sitting on the beach we saw lots of jumping stingrays, and several whales a couple hundred meters off the beach. It was interesting to watch the glass bottom taxi boats race from one whale sighting to the next trying to give their passengers a show.

Monday I checked us in so we can get on our way as soon as possible. Apparently there is no longer a customs office in Cabo so we will try to take care of that in La Paz.

It has been a fun and interesting first foreign port of call, but Anne-Marie and I are both excited to get to someplace a little more secluded. Our next stop is going to be a beach called Bahia Los Frailes, which should be much more low key. We hope to weigh anchor for that journey on Wednesday.
Cabo San Lucas