Thursday, April 29, 2010

Back to Loreto

Before heading to Mazatlan in March we drove our car to La Paz to catch the ferry. Having parked the car in La Paz for two months we now needed to get it back to Loreto. Friends, Robert and Kelli from Loreto, helped us out by having Robert and his daughter Allison sail north to Loreto with Doug, Chandler, and Henry while Kelli drove back to Loreto with Ann. What took Kelli and Ann 4 hours to drive took the sailors 5 days to sail and 4 different anchorages between La Paz and Puerto Escondido, home port for HanaCrew.

Chandler and Henry reported seeing manta rays, feeling the softest white sand beaches "ever", and watching the dolphins swim under the boat.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Back to Baja!

We left Mazatlan on April 14, sailed across the Sea of Cortez where it meets the Pacific Ocean, and arrived two days later in Los Muertos on the southern end of the Baja Peninsular. It was a good crossing, although not much wind. We were grateful all the work Doug put into the engine before we left proved effective since we motored most of the way.

Los Muertos is a bay where planned development has begun but has slowed due to the world economy so for now it is a quiet cove where one palapa restaurant sits on a sandy beach that stretches down to a magnificent enclave of beautifully designed and built villas, or so we thought.

After dropping anchor and rowing to shore we were happy to be on ground that wasn't moving for the first time in 40 hours.
We ran down the sand dunes and walked in the waters' edge to the property at the far end of the beach. After meeting an American couple on the beach who encouraged us to "check out the train collection in the hotel" further down the beach, we had no reason not to go further.

The property was originally built as a private residence but is now open to the public for use as a hotel when the owner isn't there. Once at the hotel, named GranSueno (Big Dream) we found no one except a few staff members eagerly welcoming us into the dining/game room where the model trains are displayed. We felt a bit out of place seeing we had not bathed in two days, had no money with us at the time, and looked about as scruffy as, well, sailors look.

We explained we had no money with us and therefore couldn't even buy lunch but the staff said we could look around, and even swim in the pools if we wanted to. Wanted to? YES!!! The kids raced upstairs to the train set and found an amazing tunnel system underneath it that any 9-year old kid would love to play in. The tunnels had mini-kitchens, living rooms, etc., throughout. Even Doug and I got into the was just too much fun to miss.

A week later we returned to GranSueno by car, a 45 minute drive from La Paz where we were staying in a marina, and brought our friends Kelli and Robert along with their daughter, Allison.
 Again there were less then 10 other people enjoying the resort that day so we felt as though it was our private villa. This time we had money and enjoyed a delicious lunch after the kids went swimming and before they had a wonderful horseback riding lesson.

Friday, April 16, 2010

I Galileo

As we sailed from Mazatlan to Baja, known as the southern crossing, where the mouth of the Sea of Cortez meets the Pacific, Doug and I shared the helm on two-hour "watches" through the night. This was to be a 48-hour sail so we had plenty of night sailing this trip. In the middle of night two Doug suggested I use the stars off the starboard side of the dodger as guides to keep me on course rather than sitting upright directly behind the wheel and using the compass. I gave it a try since it made for a more comfortable sitting position to lean to the side for the next two dark, quiet hours. There was no moon which meant the stars were beautiful and easy to observe.

As I looked upward and out toward those sparkling gems I couldn't help but wonder how Galileo felt as he explored his universe, looking for answers to his wildest theories. I later went to Wikipedia for a quick refresher on Galileo and found that "telescope" comes from tele meaning "far" and skopein meaning "to look or see". Good info for use in home-schooling. I was also reminded that Galileo was ousted by the church for declaring that the sun was the center of the universe. Interesting how thought evolves!

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

A unique egg hunt

After a few weeks at the dock in Mazatlan acclimating to boat life and working on various projects we decided it was time to get out of the slip and venture to an island 85 nautical miles south of Mazatlan where frigate birds and blue-footed boobies live in the wild. The trip to Isla Isabela took approximately 24 hours of wind and motor sailing. At sunset Henry, with help from Dad, caught what we think was a Skipjack. Doug filleted and cooked it and dinner was served!

Once we dropped anchor we jumped off the back of the boat, swam in the clear water, and enjoyed the beauty of the majestic rock formations that sit just off the island.

On Easter morning we rode our dingy to the island cove where fishing shacks line the waters edge. As we approached land I realized my sense of adventure in my post-children years has been somewhat altered by Disney and Planet Earth. The "high-adventure" traveling Doug and I did when newly married had faded and our recent years of visits to Disneyland and the like had encroached upon my sense of what a "real" natural experience should be. The reality of this island and its raw, natural state struck me. It stunk, "naturally" from bird droppings. Gosh, Disneyland doesn't smell like this, I thought. On shore I got another dose of reality when we looked for a place to sit and eat lunch. No umbrella covered picnic tables here! Squat on a rock that has encrusted bird poop on it (I was amazed to see that we all did this rather than stand!?!) and eat amidst the various fish skeletons, insects, and once again, "natural" aromas. None of this was really a problem, simply an observation and somewhat comical to me.

Once we started our hike to see the wildlife, all things Disney faded away and we became so engrossed with the birds and our exploration of the island that the experience was as exciting and genuine as anyone could hope for.

The fishermen who fish from this island look as though they stay for days, if not weeks, performing their trade. I suppose they have boats come out to collect their catch and take it to the mainland. The shacks they live in are barely inhabitable by our standards but they seem to be quite content with their corrugated tin sided abodes. The fishermen we saw went about their business without really noticing we had arrived.
"Just more tourists", is probably what they were thinking.

We were told to have Spam and fruit cocktail on board to trade for the catch of the day but no one ever approached us to make that deal. We typically engage in conversation with locals wherever we go but these fishermen didn't take the bait when we looked at them with that, "Hola, como esta?" look, so on we hiked.

We did meet and talk with a Mexican family who had just finished hiking the island so their directions were helpful to us since the trail markings were good, not great. The frigate birds seem to have possession of the lower part of the island while the boobies have the top. Some of the male frigates were trying to attract the females by puffing up their red necks. See below.
The real treat of the day came when we walked past a mama blue-footed booby. She squawked at us at first but when she saw that we were friendly she simmered down and eventually showed us the eggs she was protecting.

These birds are stunning to look at. Their feet are either bright blue, greenish-yellow, or off-white but the blue are the most vivid. We had been told, but were still amazed, to see how docile all the birds on the island were considering they live in the wild. Fortunately nothing has ever challenged them enough to change their trusting ways. They allow strangers to get within 2 feet of them without feeling at all intimidated.