CostaBaja to Isla San Francisco
We left the marina in the morning about 10:30 am after twirling the boat 180 degrees, tying to a different pier and then raising the tender for the first time as a solo effort. Once aboard, we headed north for the island, about 5 hours away. It was a beautiful day with plenty of sun and a pleasant breeze. Whales were everywhere. We cruised along and reached the island about 3:30. Peter and Mary Rose, aboard Solana, showed us the way into the anchorage, but as I allowed about twenty minuets of cruising space between us, a rather fast moving larger ship overtook us. It looked like a ferry, so I didn’t think it would anchor at the island, but in fact it was a National Geographic tour ship with about 50 people onboard. It was a run down thing with a deck full of kayaks for the nature lovers on board.
Isla San Francisco is the crater of an extinct volcano, with its ancient sidewalls forming the bay. It is a desert island, and the rim is a crescent shaped sandy beach. We have included our latest pictures, which show its magnificent beauty. That evening, we sat on the boat deck enjoying a glass of wine and looked above to wonder at the milkyway and the heavens full of stars. The National Geographic ship, named the Seabird, was running its generator and lights, so I am sure the tourists could neither see stars well nor enjoy the silence. Fortunately they pulled out about 1 am.
Isla San Francisco
The next morning the now familiar local fishermen in their panga greeted us. This time they requested coffee, but we gave them four Buds. Later they returned with two beautiful Snappers, about ten pounds each. We gave them a chicken. Everyone was happy. The fish were whole and had to be cleaned. Neither Rebecca nor I have ever cleaned a fish, so I started the project. The scales presented a major obstacle. After the first fish I learned to get them off before filleting them, but I also found out that if you leave the scales on, the fillets won’t stick to the grill. This makes life easier later on. Rebecca applied her surgical skills to three of the four fillets. They looked pretty chewed up when we were done. At any rate, we had them for dinner with our new cruising friends—delicious!!
During the day Rebecca and I took the tender for a tour of the area. The sea is loaded with fish here, and north of our position was a small island that had a fishing village on it. The area is so beautiful, it is impossible to describe, so we have plenty of pictures on the site for you to see.
Isla San Francisco
The fisherman greeted us again the next morning, this time they asked for sugar. We gave them five pounds, four Buds, and coloring books and crayons for their children. We didn’t asked for anything, but they came back a few minutes later, this time with about five or six pounds of filleted Snapper. Perhaps they saw our struggles of the previous day. At any rate, we spent the bulk of the day hiking the island. It was a splendid, breathtaking experience and we have put plenty of pictures so that you can see what we have experienced. On the way back we bumped into an elderly couple from Canada. They were on a sailboat. He was looking forward to listening to the Super Bowl that afternoon. Although they looked to be about 80, they were apparently very fit as they were on their way to begin a climb up the side of the crater rim. It turns out that they had sailed across the Pacific Ocean twice. Later that day, we went aboard Solana for dinner and to watch the Super Bowl (via satellite). It was certainly the most memorable Super Bowl Sunday I have ever experienced!
Isla San Francisco to Isla la Partida
We rose about 8 am, prepared our breakfast and set about to ready Odyssey for the next part of our cruise. By 10:30 we had brought the tender on board and made ready for sea. We left Isla San Francisco bound for Partida Cove on Isla la Partida. The cove is actually a gap between two islands. The anchorage is a relatively shallow, sandy area. It took us a little while to get positioned the way we wanted. After we set things up we took off in the tender. I put a fishing line in the water, and as we circled the cove, we saw schools of fish jumping out of the water. Bat Rays and larger fish, even Whales were corralling them into a school so that they could be eaten. The schooling fish were scarred out of their wits and were jumping out of the water to evade capture. Meanwhile, my line was dragging in the water in hopes of catching at least one fish. It did; it hooked a Bat Ray. I didn’t know what to do. I never hooked anything that strong. I worked on it for a while, and Rebecca and I discussed what we were going to do with it if we caught it. We wanted to let it go, but it was big and the tails can be very dangerous. People have died as result of their tail bards hitting them in the wrong place. As we were thinking it over, it broke the line, thank God. It took my $4 Repella with it as well!
As soon as we got back to the boat, a rough looking character came over. He was Bruce Petty, a middle aged carpenter from Telluride, Co. who has spent more than 20 winters on his sailboat in these parts. He was clearly intoxicated. After giving me a little advice on improving my anchoring skills, he asked me if I would take him out in our dingey to where the big Snappers live. His dingy wasn’t up to the job, and he offered to provide the tackle and bait if I would take him. We agreed that I would pick him up at his boat when the sun fell to an agreed upon point on the horizon. He would remind me by blowing on his conch shell. About ten minutes later the conch shell blew once, then twice. When I arrive at his boat, he was still drinking and organizing the fishing gear. First two rods, with ancient Penn Senator reels that were crusted over with corrosion and fish slime; then the cooler to hold the live bait consisting of four mackerel. The bait was as big as anything that I ever caught. As he stumbled aboard, we headed out to his favorite fishing spot. It was on the windward side of the bay, in about 15 feet of water. Cliffs rose high above us, pelicans and frigate birds dove furiously into the water retrieving as many fish as possible before the sun set. The water was crystal clear, and as we trolled the waters we could see the giant rocks that were home to the really big snappers. Bruce showed me his preferred method of fishing: first grab the bait, put one hook (it was a rusty, old hook that I didn’t think was sharp enough to pierce anything) through the mackerel’s nose, a second through his posterior. I was grossed out and felt sorry for the fish. Two hooks were Bruce’s secret- then into the water. The baitfish was swimming as we towed it over the crevasses along the bottom. It looked perfectly natural. I mentioned to Bruce that the mackerel seemed like a large fish to use for bait. His reply: “if you want’a catch big fish, you got-a use big bait”. Seems profound, somehow. Gradually the sun went down and the sky turned from gold, to red, to dark purple, blue them black. It was the mackerel’s lucky day: he was released and we caught nothing. We saw a light out to sea, and we thought it was probably a Mexican panga. We pointed the bow in their direction, and a few minutes later Bruce was talking to them in Spanish and they showed us how they caught fish, which seemed effective since they has a boatload of fish. We went back to our boats. That night Rebecca and I grilled fresh Snapper. We turned on our underwater lights to attract fish and see the show. The ocean was alive with all sorts of creatures including a sea snake that came by for a snack.
Partida Cove to CostaBaja
We weighed anchor about 12:30 pm and headed to CostaBaja. When we arrived, about three hours later, we stopped by the fuel dock. We were planning to leave for Barra de Navidad on Thursday, so we wanted to come back to the marina and restock our refrigerator and refuel. It took about 2 ½ hours to take on about 1,800 gallons of diesel fuel. Rebecca went to the store and loaded up, too.
In Port at CostaBaja
Peter and I went to the local WIFI coffee shop as the marina’s internet was on the fritz. Our mission was to review the weather systems in preparation for our departure. We can do this using several internet services, such as BouyWeather.com, which you might want to look at just for fun. A big low pressure system was coming into the area around Barra de Navidad, and the sea was likely to be churned up for a few days with 9 footers predicted. We decided to change our plans and sail farther north to Mazatlan, and them move south as weather permitted. The problem was a big high pressure system over Arizona that was creating a mess in the north, and blowing big winds right down the length of the Sea of Cortez. We decided to stay put here in La Paz until Monday.
In Port at CostaBaja
Winds from the north blew in right on schedule, and we spent most of the day poking around the boat. It was a cold and unpleasant day by local standards. Along with Peter and Mary Rose we went into town and walked all over the place. The town is preparing for a big festival that is held each year before lent. Later Peter and Mary Rose came over for drinks and a discussion of things pertinent to our upcoming voyage. I became inspired and made a spaghetti dinner embellished with Kathryn’s favorite special tomato sauce. We decided to rent a car the next day and go to Todos Santos, a sleepy village about and hour form here.
On the Pacific Coast about halfway between La Paz and Cabo San Lucas lies the little town of Todos Santos. To get there we took a four lane limited access highway. The town is dear to the hearts of Rock’n Rollers everywhere because it is the home of Hotel California, made famous by the Eagles. Other than that, there isn’t all that much to see there except for a fabulous boutique hotel outside of town run by a Swiss couple who built it in 2000. They have eight rooms, a magnificent garden and pool, and wonderful food. The name? Posada La Poza (www.lapoza.com). If you are planning a trip to Cabo, I would plan a few days at this little hotel, and forget the big city lights of Cabo. As for the drive to Todos Santos, it was beautiful. The cactus forest and desert landscape combined with towering mountains makes for a breathtaking view. We ended the day with a Margarita at the beach house bar here at CostaBaja. This is a beautiful place, well worth a visit and is reasonably priced also.
In Port at CostaBaja
Today has been a quiet day. The internet is finally working and we got a chance to pay our bills and read our emails. Most of the day has been taken up with reviewing weather information, writing the Captain’s Log, and testing electronic equipment on board Odyssey. It looks like we will leave for Mazatlan on Monday morning about 7 am.