August 2010: Santa Rosalia to Bahia de Los Angeles
Chubascos, Floaties, Heat, stuff
August 1, I was in Santa Rosalia, about to head north.
Just before leaving, the marina hosted a Baptism party.
I was a little confused when I saw the pinatas.
I asked the marina manager, and he confirmed my suspicions.
They are angels.
I didn't watch the party, because I didn't want to see a bunch of children beat angels with sticks.
Ever watch 'Children of the Corn?'
Yeah, right, anyway.
This seemed an opportune time to take inventory of canned goods, and stock up for the northern Sea of Cortez.
Folks tell me it's really expensive up there. We'll see.
Before leaving, I did backups. The heat and humidity really plays havoc with electronics that aren't designed for the marine environment. Last year I lost one hard drive and had to rebuild my primary computer from scratch. That was a pain.
Since I rely on the computer for navigation, I have two of them. (I also have the Furuno and paper, but I like the computer.) The backup hardware saved me the last time. However, to avoid future hassles, I bought new hard drives for both computers and periodically clone the disks, and then vacuum seal the clones in food saver bags. If the drive fails, I can plug in a bootable clone and reboot.
I bought lots of backup chips, too.
August 5 - Time to head north to the Bahia de Los Angeles area,
120 miles north.
The first stop was just a few miles north, at Caleta Santa Maria. Nobody goes there, because it's so close to Santa Rosalia, and because there's a huge gypsum mine that will cover the boat with dust when the wind is from the wrong direction.
However, it's a good spot to get back into a traveling mind set. When I stopped, the breeze was from the south, and the mine wasn't in operation, so I didn't get buried in dust.
You can see from this radar picture that it's well protected from three sides, but totally open to the south. I had the place to myself, so I anchored smack dab in the middle. It was good holding. The gypsum dust makes a very muddy bottom.
Chubasco. A chubasco is a small electrical storm with gale force winds up to 40 knots. They form on the mainland this time of year. Just about every other night you can see lightning flashes over the horizon. They form in the evenings, and usually fizzle out during the night. However, every now and then one makes it across the Sea of Cortez. They usually hit around 3 a.m., and blow out by dawn.
This one hit earlier, lasted about four hours, with winds straight from the south. That's right, the south. So Caleta Santa Maria became a nice funnel for four foot wind waves, making the bow bounce up and down about ten to twelve feet. It was uncomfortable. But once I knew I wasn't moving and everything was safe, I set a radar proximity alarm and went to sleep. When the boat is bouncing around like that, I prefer to be in my bunk.
Once again I was thankful for that oversized Rocna anchor. You can see the nice line I traced on the GPS as the breeze swung from the south to the west, as this thing moved past.
I decided to hang out for a day and get a good night's sleep.
Here's air conditioning, Baja style. Put the frozen chicken in front of the fan and point it at the bunk, and lie down.
Then it's a long 16 hour haul up to San Francisquito, and a couple of short hops to Bahia de Los Angeles. Along the way, the bees found me, but I have new leather gloves, and I kill them with my bare hands. Sorta.
Along the way I saw the usual sea life. The notable thing was sperm whales. I've never seen sperm whales before. They don't give much of a sign on the surface, and they'll mess you up if you hit them.
I understand that there are orcas and other stuff around here, too. I really gotta go looking.
Here's a look at BLA. (Bahia de Los Angeles.)
I actually don't remember when I arrived, but I think it was about August 14. The village of Bahia de Los Angeles is a tiny little place, and there's really nothing going on there. The web site boasts that they've had electricity 24 hours a day since 2007.
I like it.
It's really hot, though.
For the last few weeks, a couple of whale sharks hanging out in the anchorage in front of the village. I took this pic from my cockpit.
They are very tolerant, and very cool.
Man, I sure wish this rain storm had kept coming. I got the wind, but no rain. I heard folks on the radio, six miles south, talking about getting a half inch of rain in a half hour. I was blown around in a circle, but didn't get a drop of rain. Bummer.
Stella Blue could use a fresh water rinse.
I haven't seen rain since last February, and that was just a sprinkle.
Getting fuel to the boat is a real pain in the butt. You put the jerry cans in the dink, take the dink to the beach, and hike or hitch a ride to the Pemex station.
Fortunately, all the locals own pickup trucks. .
But, yes, I have walked two miles with a jerry can on each arm. The trick is to take a sail tie and wrap it around the lower arm above the wrist, looping it through the jerry jug handle. That way the weight hangs on the arms, and you don't kill your fingers trying to grip a six gallon jug for two miles.
The romance of cruising.
BLA has dozens of good anchorages within a few miles, and this time of year there are only about 25 boats in the area. If you want a desert island all to yourself, you don't have to go very far.
Isla La Ventana is a sweet spot, only a few miles from BLA village.
There are a few little islands just to the west, which provide minimal protection from that direction.
It's a tiny cove, big enough for one boat. Well, I'm sure some folks would try and fit four in there, but I like room to swing around in case the breeze picks up from the wrong direction.
Obligatory sunset picture.
I caught a lot of spotted sand bass in here, and had a good dinner.
August 22 - JR drove down from Santa Barbara, to see what I was up to.
JR found out that once I know someone's coming, UPS boxes start to show up on the doorstep. That's what happens when you visit a cruiser.
And if you're driving a truck, expect big boxes.
Here's my new BBQ. The old one was pretty thoroughly rusted out. A good wave would have taken it right off the boat, leaving just the base.
Since he had a truck, I shipped him a half case of my favorite Jamaican Jerk sauce. I ran out of this stuff last year, and had a real Jerked Chicken Jones going. I like to rub the chicken with the spice mix and let it marinade for a day, BBQ and put this sauce on.
They changed the bottle, and maybe changed the recipe. Perhaps my memory is faulty or my tastes have changed, but this seems a bit sweeter. I don't eat processed foods these days, so my sugar intake is really low.
JR also brought down 150 feet of strong braided nylon, which I cut into two lengths for use as a hurricane bridle.
'When in Rome,' as the cliche goes. Boats around here congregate in Puerto Don Juan when there's a hurricane threat. Given the space limitations there, everyone needs to have similar setups for ground tackle, so that all the boats swing together. So I'll have a single length of chain rode with a dual anchors in line, and form a bridle with two lengths of really long nylon. The long length is so I can let out more nylon, one side at a time, to relieve chafe and add scope.
I hope I don't need it.
Three other guys came down with JR, which was a surprise. I probably should have come up with a new plan, fast, because five guys on my boat is crowded. Heck, I only have three usable berths, although this time of year it's rather nice to sleep on deck.
This is Cliff. Oh, yeah -- JR also brought down a bunch of pool toys, which are essential survival items in the Sea of Cortez in summer.
It can get hot. Jumping overboard is a survival skill.
In fact, we were having a heat wave, with no breeze, during this visit, and since these guys were not acclimated they had a tough time with the 100 degree heat, humidity and endless sunshine.
Sorry about that.
This is Carmen on the right.
Naturally, the day after they left, it cooled down a bit and the breeze came back.
This is Tom.
Cliff did a lot of fishing.
What else is going on...
I'm running out of 'airport books' and light reading.
Before taking off last year, I loaded on board a number of books that I really should read, but haven't. I've actually read the Bible a couple of times with different translations, but it's been a while. And I've always wanted to read the Koran, just to try and understand things better.
I also loaded up the boat with a lot of classic literature that I've always meant to read. It's time. I knew I'd get to them after all the junk books were gone.
I just finished Jean-Paul Sartre's 'No Exit.' Funny. It's about three people in Hell, which is defined as being trapped in a room with other people that you just can't stand. It should be required reading for every potential cruiser or crew.
And there are movies. During the winter, traveling around more populous areas, my movie inventory didn't see much use. But now I'm spending more time on the bunk, with three 12 volt fans on, waiting for the heat of the day to pass.
Heck, you can't spend all day, every day, fishing, snorkeling, swimming, and walking on the beach. And there really isn't much else to do up here except sit in the shade and drink beer, or eat.
And frankly, sometimes it's too hot to get up and eat. I'm probably drinking
6 liters of water and gatorade every day, and less than a pint makes it through
my kidneys. I'm not complaining, just noting a fact.
I'm sure it really sweats the toxins out of my body, and keeps the pores clean. My skin is super saturated with moisture, and it takes less than five minutes in the water to turn me into a giant prune.
Speaking of the heat, Stella Blue's electrical consumption has skyrocketed. I've used this little Honda generator more in the last month than I have in the last year, and am really grateful to have it.
During the winter and spring, my solar panels have kept up with refrigeration and added about 20 Amp Hours back into the house bank, which left me with a manageable deficit that was often made up by the alternator, even when I only had the engine on for short periods when anchoring or moving a mile or two.
Now I have fans going non-stop whenever I'm on board. The *real* load, though is the fridge freezer. Despite my high tech insulation, the Frigoboat Keel cooler for the compressor, and the Smart Speed Controller that adjusts compressor speed for maximum efficiency, I think the electrical consumption doubled. Heck, it's around 100 degrees, with the hot sun blazing down on the deck and hull all day long.
I noticed the fridge/freezer compressor was running non stop, 24 hours a day, and during the heat of the day was running at the top speed of 3500 RPM.
To reduce consumption I turned the freezer into a fridge by setting the thermostat up to 30 degrees. I actually designed the system to for this, and am now glad that I did. The small space inside the evaporator still keeps things frozen, but the rest of the freezer compartment is just a really good fridge, where I keep things that I don't want to access often, like meat and fish. The main fridge compartment holds all the other stuff.
Well, that's it for the last six weeks.
With internet access being very sketchy, I don't know when the next update will be. It took a few hours to upload this page over the slow internet cafe connection, and I don't like carrying my laptop around in an inflatable boat since it's also my primary navigation tool. (Yes, I have a backup computer.)
My camera is flaking out, too. The LCD screen quit, probably due to heat or humidity, and the nearest camera store is a hundred miles or more away. I can take pictures, but have no idea what they look like until they are downloaded into the computer. Bummer. There are Orcas, Sperm whales, Humboldt squid, and all kinds of interesting stuff around here, so I hope the pictures will come out okay.
Until next time, see you.