Return to San Carlos - Prairie SeaShell Sea Stories

Sailing SeaShell
 SeaShell sailing
Chores finally done, it was time to cast off and do a little sailing before returning to Calgary.

One of our better sailing days, about 12 knots of wind, in the right direction!

Although we have had very little problem with bugs over the past years, today I got really freaked out. A swarm of bees came from out of the blue and tried to build a hive in our boom.  Don gave them a few shots of Raid which seemed to send them on their way.

We anchored in the second finger of Isla Partida where our new guide book claims there is some good snorkeling. The water temperature was bout 23C so I went for a dip to check it out. Pretty good site, water clarity was good saw a couple of bigger fish, a pair of butterfly fish and lots of little guys.

However, the current and wind were a little uncomfortable, so we up anchored and moved back to the same spot we stayed at on our way into LaPaz. Beautiful calm, still nice and sunny, so lied out on top of the dingy to dry off after my swim.

Too bad there was no moon tonight because while we were sitting in the cockpit after supper, we heard several very loud snorts from a dolphin, very close, but too dark to see anything.

Next stop was San Evaristo, we arrived around 2:00 in the afternoon. Since we had been here before, we were familiar with the lay of the land, and we knew we could anchor on the south side of the bay, after crossing a shallow area.

GPS Position
 GPS position

First try, we were a little to close to the shallow area, only 9ft, so picked up anchor and moved back a bit. We spent the afternoon watching the pelicans begging the fishermen for treats, and as usual, cruisers midnight came at about 9:30, so we called it a night.

We woke up about midnight and closed the hatch, wind was howling, but we weren't bouncing about, so went back to sleep. Woke up again about 3:00am, and Don checked the GPS and our depth was still 24ft.

When he came back to bed, he made a comment that all the other boats had turned out their lights. About 4:00am, I thought I heard something on deck, so got up to check it out. Could see no problem, the moon was just barely visible, and I concurred with Don that the other boats had no lights on ... seems a little strange that everyone should have turned out lights. Guess everyone is trying to conserve power.

At 6:00am we were up and ready to leave. Don opened the companionway hatch and hollered down, "Where are we ... where are the houses on shore ... this doesn't look right".

We had seriously dragged anchor, our position when we anchored was 23.54N 110.42W. Now it was 24.56N 110.42 W, a full degree further north (about 6 miles).

We checked the GPS, and it appears we went back & forth about 30 feet at a time, we passed by an anchored sailboat, passed over the shallow point, and yet still the anchor caught on nothing. We were now in 352 feet of water, halfway into the San Jose Channel. Looks like we had drifted south, back towards LaPaz, then the current must have changed and pushed us north again.

We can't really explain what happened, except that possibly when anchoring the second time yesterday, we must have put the anchor down too quickly and formed a big ball of chain. In any case, we were very fortunate that no harm done ... we obviously had a Sea Angel watching over us all night!

After re-gaining our composure, we started the engine, and woke up a whale who was sleeping close by. After getting underway, I decided to make some cinnamon buns for breakfast, it looked like it was going to be a motor sail day.

However, by mid day we had put the sails up and down about 5 times, and we had waves washing over the deck right back to the companion way. That hasn't happened since the Oregon coast, and the wind wasn't really that strong, 12-15 kn, from the North.

I was trying to mix up the dough with one hand to hold on to the boat, the other on the mixer. Just as I'm about to put the mixer in the bowl, it slides away. By the time the dough was done & set out to rise, we were flat calm and under motor again.

It was the same scenario an hour later when I decided to sit down at the computer to send some e-mails. I couldn't keep the key board on the table, but by the time I was done, it was flat calm again.

Sailing SeaShell
 Aqua Verde 2009 - Jose & his dog Cascabell (Tinkerbelle) lived next door to this hut on the beach

Fortunately afternoon winds were more consistent, and we made Aqua Verde before dark. We will hold up here for a few days while the gale force winds pass thru the area.

Although we have been here before, we have never walked into town by the road. Although it takes much longer than via beach access, it was well worth the trip, very scenic, and many photo ops.

Town here consists of homes for a few hundred people, a store, a church, and this year, a restaurant (although it appeared to be closed when we went by). The store had run out of corn tortillas, a staple in Don's celiac diet, so Maria, the owner, promised to make some for him.

Sure enough, the following day, she met us on the road, with piping hot tortillas. The locals here certainly do go out of their way for us cruisers. Fatima paddles out to every boat on her broken sail board, every other day and collects our garbage .. .and hopefully burns it somewhere out of sight.

She says she remembers us from when we were there two years ago. We spent another day, dingying around the bay, checking the water clarity which didn't seem to be very good, and we didn't see much for fish. No sense getting our scuba gear out ... guess it's too early in the year for good visibility.

The wind and the seas seems to have calmed a little, so we left Aqua Verde at 1:00 am in the morning, thanks in part by the anchor light from s/v Bristol Blue. They have an extremely bright LED anchor that takes only 1/2 a watt. Gotta get us one of those, our anchor light takes 20 watts and is not nearly as bright.

The overnight and morning were beautiful, flat calm and a gorgeous sunrise, but by lunch time, wind started to pick up again, enough for sails, but the seas became very confused and big swells rolled in. Most uncomfortable, and it took us over 4 hours to go 12 miles.

Fortunately thanks to our new cruising guide we had found a place to pull into and didn't have to continue on to San Juanico - another 8 miles away. Punta Mangles was quite comfortable, we were greeted by a sea lion who poked his nose up a few times and a few huge flocks of little tiny birds (muirs) who think they are fish.

We also had a lone sea gull land right beside us and squawk. I think he thought we were fishing or cleaning fish and he wanted some. When there was nothing forthcoming, he got up on the dingy for a closer look and left us a deposit. After Don chased him off a few times, he finally gave up.

Next encounter with wild life was during one of my spot checks in the night. Went out into the cockpit to look around and looked right into the eyes of a snowy egret who was sitting on the rail, right beside one of our pumpkin lights. He didn't take off as soon as he way me, which is unusual because they are rather timid birds. However he didn't stick around long enough for a photo, but he too left a deposit that I had to clean up in the morning.

We have discovered that bird poop is an excellent paint remover, and since, we just finished painting, we are not ready to take it off yet.

We left around 5:00 am, passed thru a pod of dolphins who were too busy with breakfast to stop and play, then thru a school of the wee tiny fish, about a 1/4 miles square. The birds were having a feast!

We had a bit of a glitch with the computer this morning, first the screen went blank with yellow and blue stripes across it, and when we got it up and running again, it only stayed on a short while and blanked out again. Don got the lap top out and hooked up the GPS to it, but we were finally able to get the tower working again by wiggling the video card.

We have also had a bit of an issue getting the radar on the last two days. Electronics just don't like the salt air - and I'm sure the computer didn't like all the crashing over the waves yesterday.

El Burro welder
 El Burro welding water pump

The water pump mount certainly didn't like the crashing about, it broke again. Now we definitely have to stop at El burro and hopefully Tom or Geary will know of a welder who can do a quick fix for us. Made some more water as we may have to stay in El burro until the repairs are done.

We had a great sailing afternoon as we were pulling into the mouth of Bahia Conception. We were doing over 7 kn (almost hull speed) under reefed main and little staysail and nice even keel ... no heeling.

Wind died about half way into El Burro, arrived around 6:00, and Tom had seen us arriving from the road, and radioed for us to meet them at Berthas for dinner.

We told him about our broken mount, and fortunately he knows a welder in town and will take us there tomorrow.

Water pump repairs
 Repairs to water pump mounts
No problem finding the welder, and we were able to wait while he fixed the problem. He charged us $70 peso (about $7.00 Cdn) for the same repair we had done in Bodega Bay California that was $100 US.

Tom also had some repairs to do on his palapa, and the new palma post arrived in the afternoon, so tomorrow Tom & Don will need to install it.

As they were discussing the mechanics of the install, Manuel arrived selling crab, however, it turned out he was also a builder of palapas at a neighbouring bay. Although he wouldn't exactly confirm if he would come and do the work, he did give some suggestions.

Don figured the fellow who sold them the post sent him over and sure enough he arrived early the next am, with his father, and they had the post up and cemented in within a few hours.

Lynn & Ruth with new dresses
 Lynn and Ruth wearing new dresses at Ana''s Restaurant
While they worked, Ruth and I got to shop in the beach, the fellow from the "How Many Store" was peddling his wares and I got a little dress for Evelynn, a Mulege T-shirt for Don and a new dress for me, all for about $45 Cdn.

Ruth and I got to wear our new dresses to go dancing that evening at Ana's Restaurant at Santispec - a rock & roll DJ provided the entertainment to a full house. Dinner and dance for $23 - cheaper than a night at the movies at home.

Next day, while Don installed the new bracket, I cleaned a whole kilo of shrimp I had bought from the fish vendor on the beach. We all had excellent shrimp taco's for lunch.

Repairs all done, we have said our good byes and try to weigh anchor at 5:00 am. Motor won't start. Don worked on it for several hours, Tom came over to see if he could help. They checked solenoid, glow plugs, electrical ... no luck.

Don kept plugging away all afternoon and it went from bad to worse. He says he thinks he has broken something that can't be repaired ... maybe we'll have to sail to San Carlos! The way our luck goes with the wind, that's not an option as far as I'm concerned.

Tried to contact Brent at Klassen Diesel in Vancouver, but no luck, it's Sunday. Went over to Geary's to see if he had an connections to a diesel mechanic - no luck. Tom's neighbour suggested to try the sailing school at the next beach, so off we went, but it was deserted.

Tom & Ruth made us lobster dinner
 Tom & Ruth made a delicious lobster dinner for us.

Stopped in at Bertha's tiends to get some beer, and while we were there two fellows came in, seemed very friendly, so I asked them if they knew of a diesel mechanic close by. They suggested Oscars on the Ice House Road, and Tom knew where that was was, so tomorrow morning, with fingers crossed, we'll try to find him. But, for tonight, Tom & Ruth made us a delicious lobster dinner.

We found Oscars, no problem, but he was gone for 15 minutes, or so (Mexican time). We returned in an hour, he was there, and speaks pretty good English (thank goodness). He says no problem to repair the broken piece, but he can't clean the fuel injectors.

Tried his supplier in Constitution for new ones ... no luck, same story in Ensenada. Oscar repaired the broken piece, and he will come out to the boat tomorrow at 9:00am to put the injectors back in and hopefully get it working.

On the way back to El Burro, we toured a few of the other beaches, some with palapas and some where there are very fancy homes being built. I made us all some papas rellanas for dinner, but had an early night. I'm afraid we weren't very good company with the stress of the broken motor on our brains.

Following day was March 31st, we should have been hauled out today, but instead, Don was putting the engine back together, hoping that it would start ... once again, no luck. However, today it sounds like it's not turning over fast enough, and since Don & Tom had been discussing battery life last night, Don thought he would call Oscar to have him bring a new 12V battery and some booster cables.

Oscar arrived exactly on time, so we had to borrow a battery from Tom's neighbour. We dingyed back with the battery, and Oscar, and after Oscar did a little fine tuning on the injectors ... music to my ears, it started.

Looks like it was a battery problem after all, and we will have to get a new set in Guaymas in the fall. After returning the battery & cables, we said good bye to Tom and Ruth again, and finally got the anchor up around 11:00am.

We have a big debt to repay to Tom & Ruth after taking up so much of their time. We had another little scare about an hour out, suddenly the engine lost power momentarily, and I thought it was going to stall. Guess it just picked up a piece of seaweed (sargaso) that had started floating around over the last few days. All went well for the overnight crossing, fairly calm, and I even managed to sleep for a hour or two.

We docked at Marina Singular in Guaymas around 11:00 am the following day. Horacio was on the dock to take our lines. We went to the office to see Jared and get the scoop on the rates.

Jean Guy from s/v Gosling has been negotiating rates, and apparently they have just cut their rates, they are now about the same as San Carlos. It would be more convenient to stay here because of the proximity to town, but it appears their storage yard is more of a work yard only, not really dry storage.

It was a touch decision to make though, and if San Carlos had not agreed to do a little overtime and pull us out on Friday evening, we would have been staying here. Maybe next year if they improve their storage yard.

Kite flying competition
 Kite flying competition

Spent the rest of the day washing down the dingy and the sheets, hosed off the salt from the foredecks and rails. Next day deflated the dingy, and rolled it up, took the big sails to the top of the dock to roll them up ... takes so much less room than in the bags.

Next day, took the bus to the Tufesa station to buy our tickets for Phoenix, stopped to check out the mercado, and found the battery store where we will have to get new batteries in the fall.

We also stopped to watch some school kids in a kite flying competition.

If the engine will start, we are off to San Carlos tomorrow.

Success!!! We are clear of the dock by 10:30 and enjoyed the scenery on the way out of the channel, and especially enjoyed watching a huge (pack, pride, school ???) of sea lions.


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» Summer 2009

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