Friday, December 02, 2011

Anchor Watch

During our trip, we had a lot of windy nights. A lot. I can't believe it took me nearly three weeks to figure it out, but my Android phone from Telcel is actually a useful tool for these.

There is an anchor watch function on our chartplotter, but even with the brightness turned way down, that thing uses quite a few amps. My phone, OTOH, once it's charged up, (usually done while we're running the genset to make water or run the fridge) uses none. I just load up the Navionics charting app (<$30 from the Android marketplace), turn on tracking, and go to sleep. Every so often I wake up and look at this:

Nope, not moving.

There are also several anchor watch apps in the Android marketplace, which will presumably set off an audio alarm if you start to drag. I'll probably look into those (most require the substantial investment of something like $5, so why not?) but honestly, when it's windy, I'm not going to be sleeping for very long at a time.

BTW, if you don't want to get a Mexico phone with a data plan, if you already have the Navionics app on your US phone, the GPS and plotter functions will work without requiring a data connection.

Bahia Salinas

Bahia Salinas is the site of an old salt harvesting operation. Today, it's mainly a camp for the people who come to Isla Carmen to hunt big horn sheep, and populated largely by rather alarmingly heavily armed men. I rowed ashore right after we arrived and took pictures - a good thing, that, as the wind came up overnight out of the south, and we were hightailing it back to P.E. after a very rolly night by about 9:00 the following morning.

Some of the abandoned salt processing facilities:

The salt ponds:

A random pile of rusty equipment. There's an entire truck in there somewhere:

There was also a chapel, apparently still in use. I've really loved the churches I've seen in Mexico:

Thursday, December 01, 2011

Puerto Ballandra

From Puerto Escondido, we went to Puerto Ballandra. There's really nothing there, but it's a really well protected anchorage, and since the forecast was (once again) for a fair bit of wind, we wanted something that wasn't just a roadstead. It did have a neat little salt water lagoon behind the beach - this wasn't mentioned in any of the guidebooks, so we're assuming that it formed pretty recently:

It really rained a lot. Everything was so green!

On the beach, I saw this weird shell - it looked like a scallop shell that had delaminated somehow:

Sunday, November 13, 2011


It started raining at about 2:00 this morning and hasn't let up yet. From the looks of the radar image, it's going to rain all day - there's about a 500 mile plume of moisture extending southwest of us.

Much as we'd like to get out of Puerto Escondido, we're considering staying through tomorrow so that we can hike Steinbeck canyon in the mountains behind the marina - it's supposed to be absolutely spectacular after it rains - something that normally only happens in the summer, so this would be a rare opportunity to do the hike while the temperature is in the 70's rather than in the 90's.

The view from the boat this morning:

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Sunrise in Puerto Escondido

In Puerto Escondido, the Sierra Gigante mountains come almost right down to the water. Sunrise can be absolutely spectacular, as it was this morning:

They really are gigantic. Mystic, the blue power boat in the next picture is ~48' long:

MX Highway 1/Bahia Concepcion

On Sunday, we drove up to Mulege. Very pretty drive, especially the part that went alongside Bahia Concepcion. Also a long drive, which left us just enough time to grab lunch before we had to turn around and head back to Puerto Escondido.

The desert is still quite green at this time of year:

We saw this weird off-road RV at Playa Santispac:

Bahia Concepcion:

The development at Puerto Escondido

Puerto Escodido was supposed to be a part of the Escalera Nautica, which was a project to develop lots of marinas up and down both coasts of the Gulf of California and on the outside of the Baja peninsula. The idea was that if there were marinas no more than a day apart the whole way, thousands of boats would come streaming down from the US to spend large amounts of dollars in Mexico. It appears to have been canceled, but who knows, these ideas have a habit of getting reincarnated as the real estate market cycles, so perhaps it will be revived at some point. Personally, I don't think it's lack of marinas that keeps people from bringing their boats to Baja - more like lack of time, as it's a pretty long trip, but what do I know?

In anticipation of the many many boats that would be flocking here once the nautical staircase was completed, Fonatur (Mexico's tourist agency) started a residential development here. It never really got off the ground, and all that's here now, some 10 years in, is a sort of spooky half started neighborhood. Streets, streetlights, even a few structures, but nothing more. The desert is slowly and inexorably taking the area back, but it will be quite a while before these aspirational bits of concrete and steel are reabsorbed.

There's a smallish boatyard here, but apparently, there were plans for much bigger things, as there are stands sufficient to hold about 500 boats stored in large fenced parts of undeveloped lots.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

San Javier

Raphael, the harbormaster here, suggested that we take a trip to San Javier. We have friends who'd done it, but they went with a guide, in a jeep. We'd assumed we'd need to do the same, but Raphael assured us that the road would be fine for our rental car, so off we went.

San Javier is ~33 kilometers off the main highway. We were pleasantly surprised to find that, contrary to what our guide book told us, the road was very, very new - and paved. Hilly, yes; narrow, yes; twisty, most definitely, but paved. Until it wasn't, but that wasn't until about kilometer 28, so not too far to subject the rental car (a Jetta with a completely blown suspension - gee, I wonder how that could have happened..?) to an unpaved road.

San Javier is a very small town, and sort of an oasis in the mountains.

There is a river that is largely underground, but that comes to the surface just east of there, where it's been dammed to create a reservoir for the town and the agriculture there. They grow all sorts of things, but we saw mostly olives and dates.

The irrigation system is all gravity fed from the river into surface canals. When the farmers want to divert the water to one canal or another, they just put a pile of dirt in front of the canal they want to block off (the canals are maybe 6-10" across). It's quite ingenious.

This burro came over to say "hi"

The church itself is spectacular.

Exterior - front


The altar:

The road on the way out of town goes quite near the stream and reservoir. We stopped to take some pictures of the stream, and saw a horse standing in the reservoir, apparently munching on cress growing in the water. I hope the water's only for irrigation purposes!

On the way up to San Javier, we'd noticed a sign for cave paintings. We noticed it too late to turn off, so we were on the lookout for it on the way back. The paintings were hard to see, and even harder to take pictures of, but here's one of the more distinct ones.

The paintings were in another oasis-y area. People obviously camp here - there were remains of several fires. A hike up the canyon would have been interesting, but it was getting late and we wanted to be off the highway before dark, so some other time...