Wednesday, June 15, 2011


On Monday, we went to the beach at Tecolote. This is one of those things you really can only do if you have a car - it would probably be a $40 cab ride each way, which takes a bit of the fun out of a day at the beach, for me at least. It's a bit of a hairy drive because of all of the construction going on around the new Costa Baja resort, but even with that, only takes about a half hour.

What a beautiful beach! There are chairs and umbrellas set up that you can use if you buy some food and/or drinks (we had our own chairs and umbrella but opted for the ones that were set up - their umbrellas were much larger).

It looks right out at the bottom of Isla Espiritu Santu, which is a lovely view.

It was much, much cooler there than in La Paz. We swam, we ate, we drank, we lounged around. The people watching was fantastic. There were musicians - two brothers with a guitar and an accordian, who were wandering around performing and were quite good. All in all, it was a lovely day, and a great getaway from the heat when we don't want to or can't take the boat out to the islands. A+++, would beach again.

Saturday, June 11, 2011


I was sewing a screen for the companionway this morning, having finally gotten frustrated enough with the mosquito net we'd been using to keep the cats inside (which has an annoying habit of falling on your head while you're pushing it out of the way to go in or out) to do something about replacing it, when the presser foot on my sewing machine slewed off to the side. The thumb screw that holds it to the presser mechanism was stripped. Unfortunately, that's one of the few parts for the machine that I don't have a spare for. Crap. I was really on a roll with the companionway screen, too.

Off to Ace hardware I went. Juan, their resident expert in threaded things, had about 20 parts that were almost right, but nothing that would actually work. One thing about La Paz that can make it hard to find your way around, is that only maybe 20% of the intersections are signed with street names. Of these, 10% are turned the wrong way. So you find your way around counting blocks from where you are. Well, I do, anyway. Thus, I always carry a map. Juan drew an x on the map directing me to Taller de Maquinas de Coser, three blocks over and four blocks down from the hardware store. He also wrote the name of the place down on a scrap of paper, so that I'd know it when I saw it.

Juan's map and keywords were good - I found a sign on the courtyard wall of a house just about where he said it would be with "Maquinas de Coser" on it. In I went. It was a little upholstery shop in the courtyard of a house. After I was able to explain what I was looking for, the guy who was working there said "uno momento" and disappeared into the house. About five minutes later, he came out, very apologetic that it wasn't slotted like my original part. It was, although sans slot, otherwise exactly the thing I needed. I thanked him profusely and asked how much. 10 pesos. Amazing.

It worked, and our screen is almost done. Now I know where to go for sewing machine parts. I am very glad this afternoon for two things: that we have a car and that we took the time to learn a decent amount of Spanish. Without the car, this would have taken at least three times as long, and cost at least 10 times as much as my 10 peso part. Not to mention hot - the sewing machine broke around noon, so I was doing this at the hottest part of the day. Without the Spanish, barely past basic though mine is, it would have been flat impossible. That's been well worth the work and classes we've put into it.

Isla San Francisco

With Art back in town and a favorable weather forecast, we decided to take off for a short cruise on June 2nd. Our friend Crit came along on her boat, too. This was great, both for the company and because we shared meals pretty much every night, which meant only half the cooking and cleanup for each boat as we otherwise would have had.

Our first stop was Caleta Partida. We've been in this anchorage quite a few times, and it remains one of our favorites. The water, though, was still too cold for comfortable swimming - I need to be really, really hot before I'll voluntarily jump into 24c (75f) water. It was hot, but it wasn't that hot. Still, there was plenty to do - we spent some time enjoying our new outboard motor and tooling around the anchorage. That was a great way to create some breeze in the middle of the day, when there was none otherwise, but we both got a wee bit baked from the sun and the fact that we stupidly forgot to bring any water with us.

After two days in Partida, we headed up to Isla San Francisco. Isla San Francisco is a drowned, extinct volcano. The anchorage is in the crater. It has beautiful white sand beaches. It is so very much the perfect Sea of Cortez anchorage that it is the cover of the main cruising guide for this part of the world. It is, in short, gorgeous. I'll shut up now and post some pictures. These next five were taken by Art, as I cleverly managed to break a toe our second afternoon at the island - no hiking for me.

Arione at anchor with the Sierra Gigante mountains behind:

Looking across at the Sierra Gigante, early in the morning:

Crit's boat, JASDIP*, at anchor at Isla San Francisco:

*JASDIP = Just Another $#!^^y Day in Paradise

Friday, June 10, 2011

Driving down Baja

Art took four days getting down Baja - if we'd both been on the trip, we could have done longer days, but by yourself, it's harder, so four days broke it into manageable chunks. Day one was from El Cajon to El Rosario. He had a car full of stuff - boat parts for friends and things that we either can't find here or that are much more expensive than in the US. I've brought this sort of stuff back by plane before, and have never been charged any duty - I just hand the customs guys a copy of our import permit for the boat and that's that. Unfortunately the customs guys at Tecate had either never seen one of these permits (seems unlikely) or didn't want to deal with it. Either that or the guys at both the Cabo and La Paz airports are doing it wrong, because they charged Art duty on every last thing he had in the car. Not a huge amount of money, but it had to be paid in cash, which he didn't have, so finding an ATM and settling up took a while - good thing he'd planned on short days.

El Rosario was a stop that a lot of people had recommended. Boy were those recommendations spot on. The Baja Cactus hotel had beautiful rooms for just a little more than $30 (US).

Baja Cactus:

From El Rosario, it was on to Guererro Negro, then up and over the mountains to the Loreto on the Sea of Cortez side of Baja.

This was the view from Art's room in Loreto. He arrived in La Paz early the following afternoon.

It was a long drive, but now we have a car. Totally worth it (easy for me to say as I wasn't the one doing the driving).

Thursday, June 09, 2011


The Saturday before Art took off for San Francisco, we helped our neighbors on Lily, a Beneteau 48, load their boat onto Dockwise. Dockwise is a service that ships boats all over the world on semi submersible vessels. It's like a cross between a ship and a dry dock. They pull into a port (in our case, Pinchilinque) and fill their ballast tanks so that their deck is low enough for the deepest draft boat they plan to load.

The dockwise ship arrived in La Paz with several boats already aboard from previous stops:

Lily went in to port of the boat that is the furthest right in this photo:

The boats all drive on, their crews leave, welders construct stands under the boats, and they pump the water out, raise the boat to its normal waterline and take off. It's pretty cool, and in our neighbors' case, saved them a minimum of a couple of months of upwind sailing to get back to the Pacific Northwest. This way they get to spend the summer up there, rather than getting there. They'll unload in Nanaimo.

This boat loaded behind us:

It was a really interesting way to spend the morning. They took us all off the boat via a launch to Costa Baja, and we caught a cab from there back to our marina.