Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Blue Whales in the Emerald Sea

In Loreto Bay, departing from Puerto Escondido
Blue whale surfaces 50 yards from Pura Vida

Time to dive
 As we make our way north along the Baja coast, we’re gliding in and out of magical anchorages that defy photos or words. We stop in the late afternoon or when winds are directly on our nose from the north.  Since leaving La Paz after a great week of exploring and seeing friends, we’re sharing experiences ‘buddy boating’ with new friends on SV Gosling. After 9 remote days, we have a brief time of internet access until we head north from the Loreto area.

Shrimp trawler arrives early morning - we score fresh shrimp 
Cormorants drying their wings on cardon cactus
Got these scallops from the trawler
in exchange for some JB Weld
Right now, we’re anchored safely on the south end of Isla Coronados, tucked in from the 16-27knot winds that made our journey a bit choppy. After an aborted attempt yesterday at the roadstead anchorage that Loreto offers, we returned this morning to load up on veggies and walk the town.( With the amazing exchange rate of 15.41/1USD, we made a haul. This is the ‘best’ the exchange rate has been since we arrived in 2011.)

Aptly named anchorage: Agua Verde (Green Water).
That's us in front of Gosling

All along the coast, our eyes are peeled for the various types of whales that grace these waters in winter and spring. Yesterday, we hit pay dirt sighting plenty of the largest animals in the world, the great Blue Whale, reaching lengths of 105 feet. Considering their size, they are very graceful as they skim the surface before diving, leaving a swirling wake as their tales lower into the sea. It's pretty darn amazing.

Gosling in front of amazing rock formations

Rock formations at Puerto Los Gatos

Incredible rainbow effect at sunset!

Tonight, we'll enjoy a starry starry night that's reflected perfectly in the bioluminescent scene that plays out below the water around our hull. Tomorrow, we'll continue our journey to new ventures, hopeful that the predicted decrease in north wind comes to fruition.

Friday, February 27, 2015

Smiling in the City of Peace

We arrived in the city of peace, La Paz, on Sunday 2/22 late afternoon, greeted at the Marina Palmira dock by longtime friends from two different boats! How fun is that. Great to get hugs from friends and hot showers after a week in transit.

crossing with John on SV Rosalita
After a safe passage across the sea on 2/15, our generator stopping working – that’s our source for making water. W
e thought it best to get that fixed since we kind of like fresh water…and decided to “bee line” to Puerto Escondido or on to La Paz as needed, in search of an electrician. Of course, the term bee line is relative: we traversed those 200 miles of beautiful Baja coast at 5 nm per hour.

Seals basking in the sun, wing tips up
our anchorage at Bahia Concepcion
Ironically, we hand steered with the autopilot off on our journey south from Bahia Concepcion - from Puerto Escondido to La Paz! Of course, we could do it and it’s not hard, just darn funny after so many weeks getting Otto fixed. Otto worked just fine – other systems failed. The battery charger wouldn't charge the batteries and neither would the solar panels, limiting access to any electrical power. So off went everything electrical from Otto to the computer that runs our backup chartplotter, Open CPN. Even with Mike installing our backup alternator, we couldn’t get power.

Punta Pulpito

Hiking at Puerto Escondido in the Gigante Mtns




Water pouring down the rocks along the hiking trail


Happy captain at the helm, heading S from Punta Pulpito


sunset over Isla Danzante


Love the whale sightings - when they'r not too close!

Sunrise out of  Bahia Candeleros

En route, as we stopped at magical anchorages in the evening, on came our headlamps and we sat in the dark, doing all we could to conserve our minimal available battery power. Thankful for so many solar lights! Good thing we have fun, saw whales, dolphins, birds and tons of jumping rays to entertain us. Incredible scenery, stars galore, crescent moon and colorful sunsets/sunrises. We are having a great time, not complaining, just choosing to share a few of our experiences through the blog. It's what we do and learn from it all, glad to be here.

Welcoming committee  at La Paz Harbor: pelican, cormorant, boobie
During those 8 days, we sailed under power and made good progress each day, although the winds blew from the SE so rather on the nose, in the direction we were heading. Sails were up doing their best to capture the breeze.

Dining with great friends at Rancho Viejo
We’ve been in La Paz since Sunday and successfully had some electrical work done! We plan to leave La Paz on Saturday 2/28 and will do without the luxury of making water – making the decision to wait on ordering the part to fix the generator. We have to save some work for later, right?

And so after visiting with several friends, enjoying long walks and glad for our experiences, we’ll sail away from the city of peace toward new anchorages and wildlife viewing.
Toppled boats at the entrance to La Paz Harbor, results of Hurrican Odile

Egret on the lookout for lunch

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Crossing the Sea - Dark, soggy, exciting

Red tide streaks through the water
We were treated to three whale sightings on February 17th during our afternoon passage south along the Baja peninsula. I let out a ‘whale!’ shout on sighting a good size spout followed by a tail at some distance from the bow. A few minutes later, a full tail splash along the forward portside, and finally a full length skim along the surface just a football field from our port side, gliding until a flick of that massive tail sent him diving. Of course, the camera in hand but not fast enough to capture the moment except in our memories.

And on February 14th - Sweet Valentine! We celebrated by crossing the Sea of Cortez, leaving San Carlos midday for the Baja and arriving after 18:15 hours at 7:30am on the 15th. Ours was truly a dark and soggy night. After so much rain during the passage, Pura Vida is clean and so are we, as we don’t have cover over our cockpit allowing us the full experience of whatever the weather brings.
Another amazing sunset between rain squalls
There was plenty of lightning all around - always scary on a sailboat with a 50 ft mast sticking up as if to say get me if you can! Thankfully, lightning strikes stayed at bay, thunder roared through the boat louder than our engine, stars poked through during the night and at 3am the waning crescent moon occasionally appeared through amazing cloud formations from a B-rated scary B&W movie.

We slowed down to arrive at the anchorage in the morning light which was slow in coming with such a gray sky. After 20 hours of testing the newly functioning autopilot and making our passage across the Sea, we dropped anchor in lovely Bahia Santo Domingo at the entrance to Bahia Concepcion. We’d purchased a bottle of champagne on our most recent trip to Nogales AZ to pick up the replacement autopilot computer. Since we were underway for the entire day and night, why not enjoy the champagne with our own boat-style Sunday brunch once safe in our anchorage? We toasted our safe arrival, ate slices of cold quiche I’d prepared for our passage then went to sleep for the morning. During night passages, neither of us sleep much (especially on the first night of our first passage) so that rest is magical and restorative. 

Hundreds of pied billed grebes move in unison
As we sat in the cockpit, we heard noises reminscent of whales breathing then realized it was the mass of grebes that surface and dive in unison, making the most amazing noise as they rustle the surface of the water.


Sunset at Bahia Santo Domingo


And so we enjoyed a relaxing day between sun and rain, watching rain squalls with wicked storm clouds swirling around followed by sun breaks then late afternoon, huge cumulo nimbus clouds brought in the most amazing lightning storm, thankfully a few miles to the north, watched from the safety of our dry cockpit. 
Our anchorage at San Carlos before heading across the Sea

Great profile rock formation at the entrance to Bahia San Carlos

Monday, February 2, 2015

When Otto doesn’t want to Auto


Mike, Cynthia and our Linear Drive Module

We don’t name a lot of stuff on Pura Vida but sometimes an item earns it, deserves special recognition or has a personality. In the case of Otto, a trustworthy companion that’s part of our life and that we rely on, it’s the name we’ve given our autopilot. For those who don’t know the significance of an autopilot on a sailboat, it provides freedom and flexibility. It’s how we set our course and stick to it. Otto is great for singlehanding when we’re on a passage, for tacking or making adjustments or allowing you the requisite “bio-break” so you can leave the helm to take a pea or grab a snack during your shift. Important things when on a long or night passage and your partner is catching some zzz’s.

With Otto not working, your hands are on the wheel non-stop to maintain a course (which on rough seas is a good workout). So, in 2011 we made the investment in Seattle for a heavy duty Raymarine unit thinking it would last us a good long time. You can imagine our surprise when that was the system that decided to quit after only three years when we left on New Year’s Eve from Guaymas. Back again to the dock and over a month later, we’re still working on making Otto happy.

Nary a complaint shall dare spill forth from the crew on Pura Vida, as Mike and I enjoy a warmer winter than our northern friends (although it’s chilly of late and actually rained this week!). We’re learning more about autopilots, having fun, spending time with friends old and new, doing boat projects, hiking and exploring. It’s been a great month, just not on the open seas watching for whales and dolphins.


A welcoming doorway in Alamos 

Alamos at the music festival

We’re flexible and have a sense of humor – two personality traits that are critical for boat owners everywhere. And plenty of our friends are having their own “boat fun”…so the stories never end.


There’s a long saga associated with Otto’s demise, better shared over a beer or perhaps, best left untold.
Hiking Nakapule Canyon with  Connie & Scott/Traveler

4 wheeler taco stands

Help these hats escape from jail

Ahhh, morning Nescafe

Huapango music at Alamos

String Quartet poster at Alamos Music Fest

Traveling minstrels late evening in Alamos
Tequila-carrying burro