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Our Slog (Ships Log) with a Satelite View

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Whales and Chubascos

Posted on Tuesday Aug 30, 2005

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Mitlan Island is a Mecca for a group of resident fin back whales which can grow to 75 feet long! They are biggies and at night they often circle our boats puffing about and looking for snacks. Most of the nights have been calm, but a couple of nights ago, the sounds of whales breathing was stamped out by a Chubasco.

A Chubasco is a squall that precedes a lightning cell of clouds. Sometimes the winds reach 60 knots. For us however, it was a mild attack. At about 4:30 am, I suddenly woke up. I felt the boat start to swing radically, but there weren?¢â??¬â??¢t any sounds of wind. I looked out the hatch to see in the moonlight a wall of approaching clouds and lightening. Chubasco! I shouted to Sherrell as I leapt out of the hatch!

The one night we left our full sun awnings up, the squall came after us. We quickly started removing covers. The wind went from 5 knots to about 20 knots in 2 minutes. As we started to finish getting the last cover off, the wind gusted to the mid 30?¢â??¬â??¢s perhaps in the 40?¢â??¬â??¢s. It lifted our hard dinghy off the deck, we had it tilted up to scoop air down into the boat with the halyard. There was a line tied to it to prevent it from going anywhere, but the wind hit it like giant fist and ripped the cleat right out of the dinghy and sent it flying across the deck.

I had to leave Sherrell to wrestle with the cover while I man-handled the dinghy back into it?¢â??¬â??¢s chocks and tied it down. We were about 3 minutes too slow in getting things secured, and the wind was howling. After getting the dinghy tied up, we managed to get the last cover down on the deck and tied down, then we let out some more chain to 210 feet giving us a scope of 6:1 and we held on.

Like in the movie, ?¢â??¬???Captain Ron?¢â??¬, ?¢â??¬???They come on fast and leave you fast, boss!?¢â??¬ About an hour later the wind calmed back down and we watched the sun come up then took a nap.

Sometimes Paradise is all work.

Fin Whales at Isla Mitlen

Posted on Thursday Aug 25, 2005

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We woke up to the sound of a group of fin whales feeding off the tip of the island. These guys are biggies and they must have been hungry because they were swimming the currents for hours. At one point they swam between all three boats that were anchored here! Exhaling enough seaweed breath to fill a large hot air balloon in one sudden PHOOOOOSH!

Mexican San Juan Islands

Posted on Sunday Aug 21, 2005

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The Bay of LA is full of little islands, protected anchorages and great day sailing.  We’ve even jibed our way into Puerto Don Juan and anchored under sail – that’s how relaxed the sailing up here is!  No big swells for us! 


There is also a lot of current with an 11 foot tide range, we get tide rips too, just like in the San Juan Islands back in Seattle.  The tide rips are great feeding grounds for the whales and we try to time our trips around the islands to coincide with max ebbs and floods to spot the big critters!


So far we’ve visited Ensanda Quemado, Puerto Don Juan, Bay of LA village, Caletia Ventana and Punta Gringa.  We’ve done lots of hiking, snorkeling, and we even went “dinghy surfing”.  Another boat, Rhythmic Breeze, has a wind surf board, but there was no wind, so we tied a long line around their dinghy’s outboard and pulled the board at top speed behind the dinghy while we “surfed” around the anchorage.  Good times!  Even the cat is doing better, it’s like she’s 4 years old again!

In Bay of LA

Posted on Tuesday Aug 9, 2005

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We can’t believe it.  We finally made it to Bahia de Los Angeles.  This will be our homebase for the next 2+ months while we hide from hurricanes and any other nasty storms that come up the Sea of Cortez.  This area is very remote, and a beautiful desert setting with rugged mountains and tons of wildlife.  There are probably 20 good anchorages within 30 miles of here, so we’ll be busy exploring.  We’ll stop in town here every couple weeks to re-provision and check emails.  The hurricane hole anchorage is just 5 miles from here, which we plan to check out next so that we know it well when and if we have to hide out from a storm.


It’s great to be here!

The Perfect Day

Posted on Saturday Aug 6, 2005

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So Sherrell said today was the perfect day, except we had to motor. We spent 2 nights at Isla Partiada (Norte) and then motored our way over to Ensenada Quemado where we are anchored right now. What made this day perfect? Well, we went hiking up a tall mountain to the top, crossed the peninsula to a camp called La Unica where three Mexican guys were enjoying their weekend vacation from Tiajuana and bought us some COLD beer! Then we rowed back to the boat and the water was warm enough for Sherrell to swim in to cool down.

I guess your pleasures become less complicated when you?¢â??¬â??¢re away from the rest of the world.

1000 Dolphins and bunches of Sperm Whales

Posted on Thursday Aug 4, 2005

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On our trip from San Francisquito to Isla Partida (the one by Bay of LA), we traveled through ?¢â??¬???Whale Channel?¢â??¬. The current was running at 5 knots and our combined speed was 9.4 at our fastest! We flew!

As we weaved in and out of the tide rips, we were surrounded by Pacific White-Sided Dolphins. Hundreds and hundreds of them as far as we could see. They were hunting for food and not too interested in playing with us, but they were EVERYWHERE! (Attached is a photo of one of the ?¢â??¬???packs?¢â??¬ of dolphins).

Closer to Isla Partida, frolicking Sperm Whales were swimming in the current. There was one in particular trying to show off. He was doing tale slaps and full speed breaches out of the water, not once, but 6 or 7 times! We couldn?¢â??¬â??¢t believe it! Sperm Whales are MASSIVE and they crash into the water like exploding bombs!

Now, we?¢â??¬â??¢re anchored in a quite little bay that I thought we might, just might, have to ourselves. But it was not to be, 3 other boats were already anchored as we worked our way into the bay. Oh well, maybe they?¢â??¬â??¢ll leave tomorrow. We haven?¢â??¬â??¢t had an anchorage to ourselves since we left Coranado Island, almost 3 months ago!

Sarana Tortillas

Posted on Tuesday Aug 2, 2005

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We?¢â??¬â??¢ve spent the last few days getting the boat cleaned up, doing some hiking and a little swimming. This little anchorage is very protected, and we had a pretty strong squall today and a light sprinkle, but we were nice and safe anchored here. We might spend another day or so here before heading further north.

We made some really good whole wheat tortillas today. You can try some at home:

3 cups whole wheat flour

1 cup soy or white flour (if you don?¢â??¬â??¢t have any, just go with 4 cups whole wheat)

1 tbs. baking powder

1 tbs. salt

1 tbs. vegetable oil

and Hot water

Mix all the dry ingredients together. Add oil then start with 1 cup of hot water. Mix it together. Add ½ cup of hot water and start needing. Add additional ½ cups of hot water until the dough is like bread dough. Don?¢â??¬â??¢t add too much water, it?¢â??¬â??¢s better to have them a little dry.

Make golf-ball sized lumps of dough. Let them sit for about 5 minutes, then heat up a frying pan with a touch of vegetable oil. Let it heat while you roll out the first tortilla (if you?¢â??¬â??¢re lucky, you have a tortilla press). Then slap the tortilla into the pan, let it heat for 1-2 minutes until it forms bubbles inside, then flip it over for the same amount of time.


Night Sky

Posted on Sunday Jul 31, 2005

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One of the coolest things about Baja is the lack of light pollution because there are no cities around. At night the sky fills with stars and planets. The Milky Way glows in a bright band of stars and clusters that span from one edge of the sky to the other. Meteors streak across the star lit background in a high speed burn out. With a pair of binoculars, we can see moons around Jupiter, bright stars like Polaris, Arturis and nebulas and galaxies as if we were peeking through the Hubble Telescope. We can see so many stars that there are less black patches than bright white spots. Unfortunately we can?¢â??¬â??¢t adjust the expose time on our digital camera to capture the night sky, so you?¢â??¬â??¢ll just have to imagine it.

Is the heat off?

Posted on Saturday Jul 30, 2005

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We?¢â??¬â??¢re learning that the intense heat we felt in Bahia Concepcion was about as hot as it ever gets. In fact, we haven?¢â??¬â??¢t felt anything near that hot for 4 weeks now. After we left Santa Rosalia the temperature has been cooler, about 85 to 90 and the water is a nice 78 or so. Other people who have spent the summer further north tell us that Bahia Concepcion is sort of a heat trap and that Bahia de Los Angeles stays cool by comparison.

The sea life has been incredible. There are lots of whales, Orcas, Pilots, Sperm, and Grays. Many different types of dolphins and tons and tons of fish, squid, and octopus roam these waters too. We?¢â??¬â??¢ve seen all types of sea birds from pelicans to these brown dove-like little sea birds which aren?¢â??¬â??¢t in our book.

There has been a nice breeze for the past 3 days keeping everything cool. This is the Sea of Cortez at its greatest! I feel sorry for all those boats who bailed out of Mexico for the summer, but that leaves more wilderness for us!

Bahia San Francisquito

Posted on Thursday Jul 28, 2005

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Abandoning Punta Trinidad, we let the sails fly as we zipped further north. San Francisquito is a protected anchorage, which we were longing to find. We were running on 3 days of sleep deprivation and ready to rest. The wind was gusty, but always present. Sometimes it reached up into the 35?¢â??¬â??¢s but most of the time it was probably in the 20?¢â??¬â??¢s. Our average speed was 5.0 knots for the 45 miles, which took 9 hours. We really were screaming along with the autopilot doing most of the work.

Arriving in San Francisquito we found the wind was blowing like mad around the land, probably about 35 with stronger gusts. Inside the anchorage however was dead calm with a nice 15-20 knot breeze. Sherrell was deliriously happy. She went to bed at 8pm and didn?¢â??¬â??¢t wake up once until about 5 am, and she finally got up around 9am. I slept really well too relieved to be in a safe harbor protected from almost all directions from the wind and the waves.

The little anchorage is packed with boats, but two dinghies came out and met us to guide us into the anchorage to spots where there was enough depth to anchor. It?¢â??¬â??¢s closer than we would like to be anchored to other boats, but the wind is consistent and there?¢â??¬â??¢s no waves, so it should hold all of the boats away from each other.

I guess we?¢â??¬â??¢ll spend a couple of days here, resting and checking out the beach and the arroyos before moving on. We?¢â??¬â??¢re only about 55 miles from Bahia de Los Angeles and our hurricane hiding hole for the summer!