Well, we’re midway through August already and the word amongst cruisers is that this summer is unseasonably cool compared to summers past – thankfully! We feel bad for S/V Adventurer who must have been in Bahía Concepción during a hot spell, which pushed them to the brink and caused them to pack it in for the season, because, as of today anyway, it’s been a pretty magical summer. Don’t get me wrong, it’s HOT, but there are breezes (sometimes more than we’d like – e.g., chubascos and elefantes) and the water temperatures are pretty spectacular. Sure, there have been places where it was dead calm and the water wasn’t so refreshing, but overall, we’re (mostly) in dreamland (see “Exceptions” below).
Between Santa Rosalía and Bahía de los Ángeles, we made much-too-quick-stops in Bahía San Francisquito, where we encountered pods of pilot whales along the way, spied a black-tipped reef shark and waited out massive bee swarms in the anchorage; Isla Salsipuedes where we saw a hammerhead shark (!) in the crystal blue waters, but we didn’t stop because of the current and unfavorable wind direction (and the hammerhead shark); Isla Partida (yes, another Isla Partida), which is known for its massive bird rookeries; the Animas Slot, where we found out later that maybe shouldn’t have anchored there – it was amazing, by the way; and Ensenada el Quemado, where again, we were swarmed by bees, but enjoyed a walk on a vast sandy beach and perfect water temps.
Then it was off to the Village at BLA for work and provisioning, and just as we were dropping the hook, a small (~9 feet) whale shark swam along side FL and made our hearts jump. It hung around for a bit, foraging and swimming around haphazardly, so Rand decided it was GoPro time (see the vid)! Such a beautiful and special experience.
After a couple days in the Village, we made the short jump up to La Gringa at the north end of the bay for a full moon party with a handful of other cruisers, including S/V Linger Longer, S/V Dazzler, S/V Slipper, S/V Tappan Zee, S/V Manta, and S/V Volare, and Pauline, who lives ashore in BLA. The party entailed clambering onto floaties and sluicing on the outgoing tide from the small lagoon there (OMG, soooooo fun! See the vid!) and a potluck ashore at sundown. We spent a couple of lovely days chillin’ with our brethren, sluicing, sharing meals and stories, and swimming in the coolish water of La Gringa. So nice.
Then it was back to the Village for more work, provisioning, and chubasco #3. Oy. The day after the chubasco, and with a bit of fear in our hearts (not really, but…), we bailed out of the Village after picking up the water tank and hunkered down in Puerto Don Juan, a true hurricane hole, for a couple nights, if only to catch the Perseid meteor showers that were ongoing. And what a treat. Sleeping on the net with a delicious breeze and under the stars, meteors, and moon is pretty close to perfection. (Of course, there are a few Exceptions.) Pods of dolphins came through the anchorage, we took long swims, and visited with our new friends. We’re really suffering out here.
Digression: The water tank. Remember back in March when we were in La Cruz and Ry discovered the starboard water tank was leaking? Well, we had that one repaired at the La Cruz boatyard, but decided against simply putting a band-aid (an expensive one) on the port side tank, which we figured wasn’t far behind in its ultimate failure. Our decision was to have an 80-gallon polyethylene tank fabricated, but no one in the vicinity of La Cruz, or seemingly anywhere in Mexico, does this kind of work, so Rand did a bunch of research on fabricators in the U.S. and we’d have it shipped – somewhere. Well, to have it shipped to Mexico more than doubled the cost – non-starter. Now is when we should mention that we have a good friend, Simon, who runs the outdoor leadership program at the University of California, San Diego. Part of this program includes lugging a bunch of kayaks and kids down to Bahia de los Angeles every summer to a place called Daggett’s, which is run by a couple of great guys, Ruben and Ricardo. See where we’re going with this? Yes, we had the tank shipped to Simon at UCSD and he was kind enough to lug it down on the kayak trailer for us to pick up from Daggett’s at our leisure. Pick up date was August 11, 2017. When we showed up at Daggett’s, Ruben had no idea what we were talking about, but there was the tank on the trailer and he offered up his brother to help load it onto a pick-up truck and drive us back to where we’d beached CD (our trusty dinghy) back at the Village. It couldn’t have worked out more beautifully. Thank you, thank you, Simon, Ruben, and Ricardo! The installation part of it is, well, yet to come.
Ok, back to the story…After a couple of days in Don Juan, it was time to go back to the Village for more work, provisioning (do you see a pattern?), and, yes, elefante #1. Ok, so this is a weather phenomenon similar to the Santa Anas that torment southern California in the fall, except these blow from the west off The Baja and bake everything in their path. And boy do they blow. As we approached the anchorage, things appeared calm and comfy. As we dropped the hook, the winds cranked around to the west and began increasing – 17 kts. 20 kts. 25 kts. To an upwards of 35 kts. And they were torching hot! We radioed other cruisers in the area to glean some knowledge from their experiences and decide whether or not to head back to Don Juan. Our neighbors aboard S/V Lunasea, the only other boat in the anchorage, told us they were going to tough it out and take advantage of the blow drier and do laundry. So, we stayed put. The elefante blew steadily (read: sustained 25-30+ kts) until about 1230-0100 in the morning, when it finally eased and the wind gradually switched to the northeast and cooled down considerably. Sheesh! At least we didn’t have the 3 to 4-foot chubasco-like wind chop to go with it because we were closer to shore (i.e., less fetch for the wind waves to build). Whew!
So, this is about how the rest of our summer will look – a couple days in the Village and long weekends out at various anchorages in the BLA neighborhood. Pretty terrible, huh? Here’s a little scorecard:
Bee stings: 3
Dreamy: The sailing (seriously, fantastic but sometimes vexing); the gorgeous landscapes; whales, dolphins, and other living things; the delicious water temps; sleeping on the net under the stars and moon; the exercise snorkel/swims; the food and iced coffee Capt. Rand is feeding me; the solitude; the cruiser community.
Exceptions: Um, well, some continued communication issues between the FL crew (another time/post – maybe); extremely limited connectivity (yes, we’re addicted), so making us miss our friends and families too much; the chubascos; the elefantes; the dead calm days with warm water temps; bitey things when sleeping on the net and the breeze dies; bitey things and bites; the bees, bees, bees. Geez.
Now we’ve seen one of the most remote, beautiful, fabulous parts of the Sea, and we’ve hung on through chubascos and elefantes – what else does The Baja have in store for us? We’ll keep you posted…
Alas, on a very sad note, I received word that a friend and former coworker has entered hospice at a much-too-young age and will likely succumb to cancer soon. His family too recently went through hell as their son fought (and survived) a different cancer. What the hell is with all this cancer?! He is one of the sweetest souls I ever met. He deserves a longer life; this world is a better place with him in it. My heart breaks for him and his family now…peace, Lee.