Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Three Sets of Visitors, Three Very Different Experiences, Two Different Opinions

Denis and Rosario - they survived!
The great thing about spending your second year Cruising the same area is that your friends finally know where to find you and come for a visit.  Since I returned from working in Vancouver for the month of January, we have hosted three different sets of friends on board.  Our first guests were fellow Bluewater Cruising Association members Rosario and Denis.  They recently upgraded from a 27 foot Catalina to a 42 foot ketch and were hoping this trip would give them some insight into what it is like to “live the dream”, which they are planning to do in a few years.  They may have got more than they bargained for…

Karina says:

Choppy seas in the La Paz channel
You may remember from previous blog posts that the weather this year has been a challenge.  Unfortunately the first two weeks of February were no exception.  After a few days of relative calm in the anchorage, we left La Paz on a strong westerly and sailed all the way up to the top end of Isla Partida 33 nm away.  After Rosario had a quick swim with the sea lions at Isla Islotes, we anchored in the north cove of Ensenada Grande at the very top end of the island.  We enjoyed about an hour of relative calm weather, then the “Norther” started.  It then proceeded to blow 25-35 knots continuously for the next 8 days!!  The local Sea of Cortez weather guru “Weather Geary” said he had never seen such sustained high winds around the La Paz/Islands area except during a hurricane.  Crazy.  After hunkering down in VERY gusty Ensenada Grande for 3 nights, we finally ventured out for a downwind sail 20 nm south to Bahia Falsa, just outside La Paz channel.  Despite feeling a bit anxious prior to pulling up anchor, both Rosario and Denis took the helm and sailed in winds of up to 32 knots.  They were both surprised at how comfortable and easy it was to sail downwind in those kinds of winds and big seas.  They did great! 
The next day we entered La Paz despite the port being closed - we’d never seen the channel so rough.  Luckily our good old Rocna anchored us to the sea floor despite the contrary strong wind and currents.

The next day we did a crew change.  Despite the raging Norther creating huge seas in the anchorage, Gary managed to get Denis, Rosario and their luggage over to the marina, and deliver our second guests, Lynne and Nadine’s gear back to the boat safely (ie, dry).  Unfortunately we can’t say the same for Nadine and Lynne themselves.  I can’t remember ever being so wet on a dingy ride…

Nadine and Lynne
Lynne and Nadine are friends from the Vikings Sailing Club down at Jericho.  They both love to sail and were probably a bit disappointed that the harbor was closed for the first 2 days of their visit so we couldn’t leave.  Luckily, Carnival was on in town and so there were other things to do and see. 
Only in Mexico - a "my little pony" float during Carnival
The weather finally calmed down enough for us to leave the harbor and have a boisterous upwind sail (the exact kind I hate) all the way back up to Ensenada Grande.  After some debate about which anchorage to pull into, we chose the south bay.  Unfortunately the winds didn’t abate and so we had a bouncy night due to the wrap around swell entering the bay.  Undeterred, Lynne, Nadine and Gary did a hike to the other side of the island the next morning, before pulling up anchor and trying to sail up to Isla Islotes for a swim with the sea lions.  We left they bay under power doing 5.5 knots, and were quickly reduced to doing 2 knots into the biggest, steepest seas I have ever seen!  After 3 minutes of literally pounding into these beasts and absolutely soaking the deck, I decided we’d had enough and turned the boat around.  No sea lions for us!  Instead, we had a pleasant downwind sail down to a bay half way down the island where we anchored for a swim and sundowners.  We then had a nice evening sail down to Bahia San Gabriel and anchored under calm conditions (for once) as the sun set.  In the morning we dingy’d over to the frigate bird colony and checked out all the new hatchlings.  Very cool.  We then had a calm motor, followed by a great downwind sail back to La Paz.

Neil and Maureen - The marriage test-SUP'ing to shore
The weather then finally started to settle down into the more typical winter pattern.  This was just in time for our third set of guests, Maureen and Neil.  I worked with Maureen at STEMCELL for 10 years before I left on my leave-of-absence and she retired.  We just got back from an idyllic 7 day trip in the islands, where we actually had to motor about 75% of the way (which was a good thing as we needed to run the water maker). 

The first calm seas of the entire season
We were finally able to put the paddleboard in the water, swim, snorkel, hike and relax on deck without being blown out of the cockpit.  We saw turtles, boobies, black hares, whales, dolphins, and Maureen and Neil even saw a coyote.  This was definitely more like it.
Idyllic Isla San Francisco

Unfortunately all good things must come to an end though.  We arrived back into La Paz last night just in time for the winds to crank up again.  It is currently blowing a hoolie out here in the anchorage and the waves are as big as we’ve ever seen them. We both got absolutely drenched upon returning to the boat from a diesel jerry can run. Luckily things are supposed to calm down again later today, in time for us to complete a long list of boat jobs before we head north next week up to the Loreto area to meet our next sets of visitors.         

Gary says:

You may remember from our previous posts that this winter has had some spectacular sailing.
Denis and Rosario experienced the best of the season although a certain someone was less than enthused.   When Lynne and Nadine joined us we got more of the same as soon as the wussy port captain decided conditions were boring enough to let us go out. 
Black hare
I mean really, where has the concept of personal responsibility gone when you can’t even do what you want in Mexico!  Anyway we did get a great upwind sail to the top of Partida and despite my protests stopped for the night.  We then had a few days of nothing memorable (except good friends on board) and were then joined by our last guests Maureen and Neil.  Despite being joined by another set of great friends I have blocked most of this trip from my memory….   Booooooring! 
Completing some sewing projects

I mean what sailing adventure can possibly be fun when it involves sewing.  To add to that the Gary curse continues still.  Neil has done many things including spending time as a commercial fisherman…  You’d think if anyone could break the curse it would be him.  Well, think again.  Despite hearing calls of joy on the radio about fish catching galore, none were to be had by us.  I even left the boat one night in the hopes the curse was proximity related.  Not to be.

The "Gary Curse" continues...
Last night we had another norther kick up and the winds are fantastic again.  Hopefully we will still have some of the sailing season left by next week when we try to head north up to Loreto.  Transferring jerry can after jerry can of diesel sucks…

Some pics taken with our new camera this season:

Pelicans on the bow
Gary on the cliff edge: Isla San Francisco
Frigate bird hatchling

Male frigate bird
Another pelican on the bow