Sailing the Sea of Cortez - Prairie SeaShell Sea Stories by Lynn & Don Campbell

We are all packed up and ready to say goodbye to Mazatlan, but before we put the dingy away, we took a little tour up the canal to check out the scenery.

There are a lot of very ritzy homes and condos along the canal, many of them belonging to Mexicans.

And we met a few new friends! (I have to thank my friend Merry for her photos, they were much better than mine.)

On Easter Sunday, I took one last quick trip into town and went to church with Sheila from Guiding Light, then we enjoyed a walk along  the beach.

Since we were going to be at sea for our Anniversary, Don & I took the opportunity to celebrate a few days early, and went for dinner at El Bambu Restaurant.

We left around 9:30 the following morning after saying goodbye to John & Elaine & Vic & Nancy. The swells at the exit to the harbor looked a little intimidating to me, but the captain had no problem navigating the waves.

We got out just in time, as we heard on the radio shortly after we left that the dredge had closed the harbor. We put up the sails right away, and had good winds most of the day, doing 5-6 knots. Apart from a bit of a struggle with winds on the nose for about 30 miles, our crossing from Mazatlan was excellent.

It was calm enough on our anniversary to put the camera on the top of the dodger, set the timer and get a picture of both of us. As we were approaching Isla Partida, we saw lots of rays somersaulting right out of the water. Very entertaining ! The scenery was spectacular, Don says it was National Geographic quality.

We anchored at Caleta Partida at about 5:30 pm with at least two other Canadian boats. The next day didn't start out well. We had to move the boat at 4:00 in the morning. The wind had picked up, and the anchor had dragged and we were bumping bottom.

We had lots of company at that time of the morning. Many people were up re-setting anchors. The wind did quit around daybreak and it turned out to be quite a nice day.

Ann & Barry from s/v Cat's Paw IV (Duncan, BC) stopped in to say Hi and joined us for cup of tea. Then we dingyed over to shore with them and met up with Steve & Sandi from s/v Mungo (Edmonton). Although we had never met Mungo before, we had talked to them on the radio as we were passing under the Golden Gate Bridge when we left San Francisco.

On Isla Partida, there were a few well maintained fishing huts, some with solar panels, but no sign of a satellite dish this time.

The vultures were waiting their turn for dinner, and cleaning up the remains of the fishermen's catch. We saw several heads of small hammer head sharks and a couple of heads from little bull sharks.

I guess shark had been the catch of the day!

After two days on the island, we were going to return to LaPaz, however, we realized that it was Friday, the 13th,  and even though the weather forecast said the seas should be calm, it was still blowing pretty good here in the anchorage, so we decided to stay put.

Glad we did too, the winds continued all day, at times gusting to about 30 knots. We left the following day with light north winds, heading to LaPaz to meet up with our friends on Croque Pomme who were just getting ready to head for the Marquesas.

Unfortunately we arrived at LaPaz harbour just as the winds picked up, and at low tide. We were going to anchor out, just off the main pier, which is where we believed Francois & Frederique would be.

However, we didn't find them, and after running aground several times and not finding a suitable place to anchor, we decided to call Marina Palmira and see if they had a spot for us. Thankfully they did, and Don was able to negotiate a good rate, so we stayed, much longer than we expected ... two more weeks.

We did catch up with Francois & Frederique, and enjoyed burgers on the beach with them.

Best burgers, in fact, only burgers, we have had since leaving Canada. It was a little reminiscent of being at the Stampede, however, instead of cooking pancakes on the back of a chuck wagon, Chembe and staff cooked burgers under the hood of an old pick up.

The engine had been removed and replaced with a grill, and a deep fryer was in the back of the pick up to make the French fries.

We looked into the possibility of taking a bus tour to Todos Santos for my birthday, but, unlike the busses in Mazatlan, it was quite expensive, and we were lead to believe that the town only comes to life on the weekends, so we passed on the bus tour.

As it turned out, we met Lin from Royal Exchange at the chandlery, and arranged to meet with them for dinner. They had just returned from points south and had lots of stories to share.

We had only planned to stay another day or two, we were going to meet with a teacher from an English class here in La Paz as well. We had a nice visit with the Club de Conversation, however, once again, the students all speak English so well, that we don't get to use much of our Spanish.

To thank us for attending, one of the teachers gave us a very nice book, in English, all about the Baja California. Teresita is a real Harry Potter fan, so when we are back home, we will try to find her the series in English.

Our few more days turned into another week. On doing his routine check of the engine, Don noticed a slight leak in the raw water pump.

Thought it was best to attend to it now, as we will be out in the islands for the next few weeks where there are no services. It was just a seal, so it should have been a simple fix ... however went to Lopez Marine, the logical place for parts ... right ?

Sorry, no luck he doesn't have seals, sent us to Durango's, no luck, they sent us to Refracciones y Boleros who finally have the seal we need. We bike back to PSS to install same, start up the engine, now we have a real big leak ... obviously not the right seal. Take it out, and tomorrow will have to bike back for another slightly bigger one.

Day two, we get the seal exchanged and back to PSS to install it, unfortunately, this time the pulley breaks while Don is putting the pump back together.

Day Three, we call Lopez Marine to see if he has a pulley ... of course not, he sends us on a wild goose chase, so we go back to the place where we bought the seal, maybe they will know where to get a pulley.

No luck, and he suggests we will have to get the old one repaired, doesn't think we'll find one anywhere. He points us in the direction of a welding shop, which turns out to be a large lean-to in a big yard off a gravel laneway.

Needless to say it took us a bit of time to find the place, but when we did, we were able to explain what we wanted, and it appears he can fix the pulley, or make us a new one.

We opt for repairing this one, however, that means another trip back to PSS to retrieve the little piece that broke off. Our bikes certainly got a work out today, probably about 25 miles in total, but Day Four, we went back to the shop, and the pulley was repaired, re-installed, and everything worked! And I wonder where our times goes!

We are finally almost ready to shove off the dock, a few last minute groceries, fresh fruit, bread etc, a quick visit with Bill from s/v Rocky n' Brew to give us info on some of his favorite spots in the sea.

I head up to the office to check out, and once again another surprise. Goolka must have made a wrong turn, because they were heading for Hawaii, and last I checked, we were still in LaPaz. John had been having some engine overheating problems, so has decided to head for San Carlos also.

Finally, we are away, and once we got out of the channel, the seas settled down, we made water, washed windows and finally anchored at Isla San Francisco.

Don got in the water to scrape off the bottom, stuff grows really fast here, and it plugs up the speed log. Hundreds of little puffer fish in this bay, not shy at all, came to help clean up the mess he was making.

Later on in the day, I went in for a swim to find about 150 of the puffer fish standing guard on either side of the anchor chain. The water temperature was still under 70F, but the top 5 feet or so were OK.

This was a really peaceful anchorage, as you can see we didn't have a lot of company, if you look really close you can see our dingy on the beach, and PSS is the little speck closest to shore. The dark spot in the water, is actually a huge school of fish, sardines, we believe. Quite spectacular to swim through, they part to make a path for us, then close the gap behind us.

We went exploring up into the hills, apparently there are agates here, not exactly sure what they are supposed to look like, but we think we have found a few rocks with some crystals in them.

At dusk, we watched a school of dolphins feeding just off the point, and in the morning, we were awaken by the pelicans dive bombing all around us.  The school of sardines was right below us, and the pelicans were hungry.

We stopped in to visit with yet another Canadian couple,  Bob & Gisele on s/v Relax who have been cruising for many years. Our next planned stop is San Evaristo, and it is always nice to talk to people who have been there before.

Anyway, there is lots more of the Sea of Cortez to come, but I'll leave that for another chapter. Hasta Luego!

Click on Sea of Cortez pictures below to expand or play slide show.

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