Monday, November 1, 2010

Trip to Cabo San Lucas

I've been writing as I go, so here's the text from that, and the pictures, (I hope) match up. I'm in a bit of a hurry, so I might mess it up a little, and if there is a picture I talk about but don't show, I'll try to post it later.

I've made it to Mexico! Danny flew into San Diego on Sunday the 17th, and we got all the things we could think of arranged, got food, and then made the boat ready. Since it was a long ways to Ensenada, and we figured we could check in there during the day, we weighed our anchor at about 8:00 pm and sailed out into the night. When I say “sailed”, I mean to say motored. There wasn't any wind, so we motored along, until, ahead of us there was a big catastrophe of lights, and a Nuclear Submarine was heading out into the night to precede us. Its always nice to be protected like that. Anyways, we cleared the harbor and channels and we were out on the open sea, with no wind to speak of. We motored all the way down to Ensenada, where we did the mad scramble of checking into the country, and I learned a valuable thing: They want to know where the boat is. We went searching for a dock to tie to for a few hours, and some guy was waving us down to one, so we followed his direction (mistake) and tied to his derelict vessel, on the dock. When we went to the Port Captain, they asked which marina the boat was in, and we stammered and hemmed and hawed, not knowing the answer. Then they asked for a receipt from the marina, which Real Marinas seem to provide, but this one of course did not, since it was just some guy. So I ran back to the place and got him to hand write one for us, and then, since it was near closing time for them, the gears went smoothly and we managed to get our Passports stamped and a little Visa card. So we are legal. Also in Ensenada, I saw an old Washington State Ferry, which I thought was funny, since it isn't home. I don't know when it was sent down here, but I got a picture. From then we headed out into the darkening sky again, and sailed (this time there was wind) out in a freshening breeze for the evening. After a night of going along, we got ourselves our first fish. I think its a small Yellowfin Tuna, but I am not quite sure yet. Fresh fish is very good. The wind kept on dying off and then whispering along again, but with much motoring, we managed to make the distance by the next evening (24 hours later) to Bahia San Quentin. Just as we got in, a giant cloud of threatening thunder burst down on us and we hunkered down for a nice little rest that night in the rain. The wind picked up from the east over the night and made the anchorage very uncomfortable, so bright and early we lifted the hook and took off southbound. And again, the wind would not cooperate. So we motored a lot that day, and that night, and the next day, which by now was Thursday, October 21, we zipped down to Islas San Benito. Islas San Benito is/are little islands just north and west of Isla Cedros, which is a common stopover for a lot of the cruisers down here. There are TONS of Sea Lions, or Fur Seals, I am not sure which, because they both look very alike. They are not California Sea Lions, I know that much, but I'm not sure of the species. There were also some baby Elephant Seals. And a few people. I'm not sure the industry there, but I think fishing of some sort, and there were a lot of crab/lobster traps all over the place, so maybe that was it. We did the short hop to Isla Cedros the next day (friday), and climbed up a mountain there, examining the local Yucca stalks. The old dead ones that are lying around on the ground make good baseball bats, so we played Rock Baseball. The landscape is really amazing, since its all dirt and rock, with hardly anything living on it, yet is so close to the ocean, and there was a fair amount of rain while we were passing through. Saturday morning we headed onward towards Bahia Tortuga, a small town that plays host to a stop for the Baja Ha Ha, a race/rally that starts on the 24th. On route we caught a Striped Bonito or a Eastern Pacific Bonito, I am not sure which, since they look alike. I've seen these fish while diving off of Catalina, and tried to get them, but without any luck. When we to to Bahia Tortuga, we were going to stay the night, and we needed fuel, so we went ashore to check things out. We got some eggs and cooking oil and discovered the town isn't really that pretty, mostly smells like dead fish, and managed to get some fuel that evening, so we headed out again, into the darkening sky once more. The wind that had picked up Saturday morning held fast all night, and through Sunday as well, so we've been making good time. Sunday morning we caught another Yellowfin Tuna, and blasted along with the spinnaker up all day long, making 116 miles in 24 hours. We also had a visitor, a Booby. I'm not exactly sure the species, but it looks like a Blue Footed Booby, except it doesn't have blue feet. So maybe its immature. It came down determinedly, like an aircraft carrier landing, on the wind vane, and clung to the vane even when I reached over to touch it. We also caught a small Yellowtail Jack, which I've been chasing for months now with a spear. I didn't get a picture, but this one was about 15 inches long and very pretty. Shortly after, I lost the lure that caught that fish, so I am now putting on wire tips on the leaders. Some of the fishermen I spoke with told me that the Wahoo (a fish) has sharp enough teeth to bite through most lines, so you have to use wire. So maybe that's what took my lure. I haven't been sleeping much, since the boat is going faster than it wants to go, and that makes for a rocky ride. Basically the boat is always rolling around all over the place, and I can't seem to sleep unless its super calm. So I'm getting tired, and instead of heading on straight to Cabo (which is another two nights straight) I think we'll try to stop at a bay near Bahia Magdalena. We'll probably arrive tonight after dark, so hopefully the moon will help us find a nice spot to drop the hook and rest. I've taken a little bit of medication to ward off seasickness, and am doing pretty well (though it might be just placebo) and Danny is a tank in that matter, so our spirits are good, despite the lack of sleep. We do, however, need showers. Badly. I fear that my dear own mother wouldn't recognize me. There are none in sight, so we'll have to make do without. If we linger in the anchorage tonight, we can swim, which might help this problem. 9:00 10/25/2010 We made it into the anchorage without trouble, despite doing it in the dark. There is another boat here, but a ways away, and the water is kind of murky. I can't see much else, as it is quite dark. Tomorrow we'll get out and paddle ashore to explore. We also saw some Bottlenose Dolphins today, which are much bigger than the normal Pacific Whiteside Dolphins we've been seeing. I almost touched one, I was about 4 inches away, but they didn't seem to want to get any closer.

10-28-2010 Its been a few days here in Bahia Maria, which is outside of Bahia Magdalena, which is a common stopover for many cruisers. Within Bahia Magdalena is a town called San Carlos, and it holds the promise of fresh fruit and other foods, which we sorely lack. We're not starving, but merely fantasizing about all the foods we could be eating other than the soles of our leather shoes. But, since we're here in this bay, and not in San Carlos, we've done some exploring. First we climbed to the top of a big hill on the point that protects the bay from the north, Point Hughes, and took a good look around. There are all sorts of great cacti lurking around, including ones that look like a horde of snakes, and some with nice flowers. There are not many animals around, mostly crabs and vultures, and some lizards. When we got to the top, we had a good look at the point, which breaks to the right and was working nicely. There is even a surfing camp located out there, waiting for the bigger swell. When we looked north, to the armpit of the bay, we could see Laguna Maria. There are mangroves and lots of green swaths up in that direction, but just beyond it lies the barren sandy desert, with big sand dunes. We could also see San Carlos, since its about 8 miles away, but we'd have to cross land and sea to get there, making it difficult. To go by water, we'd go 20 miles south, then come right back on the inside of a barrier island. So no new food or fruit. The next day after that climb to the top we went back to the point to go surf the break. Danny didn't want to surf, so he stayed ashore to document the process. In fact, it was not an easy spot to surf. 20 foot tall cliffs surround the beach that accesses the break, and they are sandy and overhung, so its nearly impossible to climb back up. I found a spot where it was cracked and a big slab was breaking down, and gingerly scampered down. When in the water, I found the bottom to be mostly small rocks, but the occasional big one made things interesting. I hadn't surfed in nearly a year (besides the time behind a trimaran, but that is different) so I was worried about getting washed up on the rocks or doing something badly, but I didn't wipe out once. The wave wasn't very big, and I think it really needs to be bigger in order to sustain the face. I would catch the wave and then not be able to do anything because it lost its steepness so quickly. Still, it was a blast, so I was glad I did it. Then we went diving near the boat, but the water was too murky to see much, so we hiked over to the lagoon to look around. In the lagoon we found a dolphin skull, probably from a Bottlenose, since it's so big, and some more cacti, and a cool spider. It was amazing the cut between the dunes and the Mangroves, and how lush the green looked against that deserty sand. We walked past the lagoon and up into the desert a little bit and found some kind of a fruit thing. They looked like small watermelons, and we haven't tried them yet, but might at some later time. As we got back to the beach the tide was just starting to come in and it caused a bit of a tidal bore up into the lagoon. So today is Thursday, so we have just this last day here before we go back to sailing and then get into Cabo San Lucas hopefully on Sunday morning. Its now Halloween, and Danny and I got into Cabo San Lucas last night, safely and with sane. We've had a really good time together, I'm pleased that we didn't get to strangling or anything. On the last day that had of sailing (so yesterday) just as we were coming about 30 miles from Cabo, I was down below shaving (always shave before going to a new port) and suddenly I hear a shriek from up on deck, because we had hooked a Marlin! It broke the line shortly afterwards, so we didn't get to ID it correctly, but talking to people in the know, they say there are no Sailfish around here, so the only option for what Danny saw (and he saw it) is a Marlin. The trip from Bahia Maria was great, and we made it in good time, so we got in Saturday night instead of Sunday morning. So after sitting at anchor all last night, we got up this morning and decided to try the water. Danny stuck his foot in, and then a giant smile came up on his face and he dove in headlong. I followed soon after. It was amazing the transformation between Bahia Maria and here, in terms of water temperature. In Bahia Maria, the water was a little bit cold for diving when I had my 4-3 mm wetsuit on, and here we dove for about 6 hours with no suits on. Wonderful. So we first went hunting, and after seeing Tons of different kinds of fishes, I shot a Gafftopsail Pompano, which was delicious. I shot one of these in Panama a long time ago, but didn't know their proper name, and I liked it then as well. Then we went ashore for a little while and scoped out the town, and then got back in the water with cameras rolling and swam around the entire cape, which is about 2 miles of swimming, I think. I nearly was run over by an Eagle ray, we saw a few big Black Sea Bass (maybe 50-80 lbs) and tons of Pompano, as well as a few Moray Eels. There were a lot of pangas roaring around, and they don't watch too well which way they are going, so I was really worried about getting run over, and a few other divers in the water. I snuck down past some SCUBA divers who were about 40 ft down, and went to maybe 55 ft. I didn't have any weights, so I thought it would be hard to get down and have breath still, since I have to swim down the whole time, but it wasn't as hard as I figured, and I made it quite deep. I think good visibility is a big part of it. Since at Catalina the visibility wasn't as good, I had this fear lurking in my mind, taking my breath. Here, the visibility is near 50 ft, so its easier to go deep when you can see. Maybe just for me. So right now I am anchored off of the beach in Cabo, using the internet from the hotels (probably 100 bucks a night to stay in them, if not more) and living it up in the water, and its not costing me much at all. Just food.
Tomorrow we'll go into town again and check into the port. I need to check in, check Danny in (for the crew list, which is a big deal here) then check out of the port with just me. That way, if they board me in the middle of the ocean, and see I don't have the crew member I left my last port with, they can arrest me for throwing him overboard.


TazUltimate said...

Your pictures are of Northern Fur Seals, I believe based on coat color and facial features. The Stellar Sea Lion will be a light tan-ish on top with a reddish coloration on the bottom, fur seals are dark brown (chocolate) to an almost grayish black. Fur seals will also have a prominent brow ridge when compared to Stellars.

Anonymous said...

Great to hear from you
What a magnificent adventure you are having.
Keep up the good work!

Anonymous said...

Wow cool, a jewel box spider. I thought they only lived in Florida.

Friend of mine was sitting in a drive thru line once when one landed on her arm. She quite understandably flipped out when this other worldly creature with huge red spikes suddenly appeared on her skin ;-)

mlloyd said...

That year off surfing did you well, your stance looks good in the second picture and you seem to be digging your rail in nicely, did you make the turn?

Glad to hear your trip went well and no one suffered unnecessarily!

And, your selection of food sounds delicious. Please make sure that the unidentified fruit is edible before you eat it =)

Rachel said...

Awsome Christian! Thanks for the update! I agree with Monica, make sure you have correctly identified the melon/cuke... wild cucumbers are toxic... but from what I understand (and have seen) wild cukes have spikes all over them... I am trying to figure out what you have there... The one that is orange is interesting... drying out? Consult Sam Thayer?

Anonymous said...

Careful with the "watermelon" fruits. They look suspiciously like a species of Datura, which is a genus full of very halucinagenic (and toxic) plants.