Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Hasta Luego La Paz! Returning to the Rat Race.

We've been in La Paz almost two weeks getting Cinnabar decommissioned and prepped for spending hurricane season here at Marina Palmira. We've contracted boat managers to keep an eye on our baby, met with a watermaker expert who helped us fix a leak in our watermaker, contracted Hector the canvas guy to make a boat cover for us, hired Chava and crew to polish Cinnabar's hull, topsides and metal, hooked up with a refrigeration expert (another Hector) who inspected and recharged our system, hired Luis the diver to regularly clean Cinnabar's hull, and so on and so forth.

We've been having fun* pickling the watermaker, pickling the heads, cleaning the boat, removing the sails, servicing and storing the dinghy and outboard, cleaning out the freezer and refrigerator, setting out roach hotels, and a ton of other things that are...wait a minute you say, back up, ROACH HOTELS??? Well yes, we bought them entirely as a preventative measure. However...HOWEVER...Tom spied an, er, "insect" in our cockpit this afternoon. GAH!!!!! We think we drowned the sucker, but I wouldn't be surprised if he's doing the backstroke around the boat right now waiting for us to turn our heads. But I digress. Where was I? Oh yeah...setting out ahem-cough-cough hotels and a ton of other things that are making me exhausted just thinking about them. Not to mention that every time we start a task it leads to some other extensive "fix" that we didn't plan on that seems to take all day! Boat owners will know exactly what I'm talking about. Let's see, it takes two weeks to get Cinnabar ready for hurricane season, we could probably sail home in two weeks...nah, I don't even want to go there!


In between the boat chores we've been making regular visits to Harker Board Co, a crazy combo of Stand Up Paddleboard  (SUP) rental by day and restaurant/pub by afternoon/evening. It's our new favorite spot by virtue of the fact that they sell all the beers from Baja Brewing Company. We love the ambience and the staff...

Beer goddess Nancy keeps Tom's growler filled.
...and it's located right on the malecon for maximum people watching effect. It's owned by a gringo, but the regulars seem to be locals. They even have a TV outside for sports fans and we enjoyed watching the NBA finals there amidst a large group of basketball aficionados.
As you can see, Tom patronizes Harker for THE BEER.

We've managed to fit in three mini birthday parties, two for people who aren't even here! (Any excuse to drink, heh. Oops, did I say that out loud?)

We did actually have a live birthday girl on Cinnabar one afternoon, so we had an impromptu celebration complete with a bottle of champagne, the last bottle in our inventory.

Birthday girl Nancy from Shindig. Those bad boys are giving up her age.

We are trying like mad to drink all our wine and beer and eat the last of our perishable food. I can't seem to get rid of one big jar of mayo, a giant jar of peanut butter and one pound of butter. How did we end up with all that fat? Oh, and there's that big block of cream cheese too.

It's getting hot as Hades here in La Paz, but the evenings are sublime. Three nights ago we enjoyed cocktails on a neighbor's boat, Victory, and watched the Supermoon rise in the East. It was an amazing sight.

This picture does NOT do that moon justice.

Yesterday the weather seemed to get humid and much hotter. All the locals say it's finally beginning to feel like summer, which means HOT HOT HOT! We are obsessed with keeping hydrated with cool drinks. Tom was particularly impressed with Nancy's ice sticks... impressed that he was compelled to make some of his own, which were, how shall I say it delicately, obscenely huge!

Impressive girth there Tom.

It's hard to believe that by tomorrow afternoon we will be back in California. It will be 100 degrees in La Paz and 84 degrees in Mountain View. At the moment, drenched in our own condensation, 84 degrees sounds mighty nice, but I'll bet as soon as we get home we'll be kvetching about the cold.

A few more pics of our last couple of weeks in La Paz are HERE. It's kind of sad that we haven't had a chance to do more sightseeing, sigh. Maybe when we return in the fall.

To see our entire ~2600 nautical mile, 6 month route on a map, click onto the "Cinnabar Sails" link under the map on the sidebar.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Fix It Don't Nix It And Happy Summer Solstice!

How to make do with what you've got - One of the many great things about Mexico is that if something breaks it usually does not get thrown away and replaced, it gets repaired. Isn't that how the U.S. used to be before we became a disposable nation? Sometimes it is impossible or difficult to replace things in Mexico, so you have to figure out a way to use and fix what you've got.

When we were anchored off the salt farm in San Evaristo we dinghied to shore one day so we could hike into town. On the way down the hill Tom's shoe broke. Throwing it away and replacing it wasn't an option, so he had to repair it on the fly.

The problem: The sole separated from the best adventure sandal ever made (Keen Newport).

The solution: We found a piece of old rope along the dirt road and cut it to the right size with a sharp stone.

The result: Voila! A functional shoe that lasted until it could be duct-taped.

Kudos for thinking like a Mexican
We've seen examples all over Mexico of items that have been recycled into other uses. In San Evaristo the pangas are tied to land anchors. Here is an unusual beach anchor, made from something with some sailing hardware on it.

Tom tries to figure this one out.

What is this thing? It has a couple of clutches and a beautifully made, chrome-plated brass end fitting with a rotating gear and spindle . We look at the other side and see a mainsail track...

Aha! It was a roller furling boom! We'd love to know the story of how this lovely piece of boat gear ended up buried in the sand.

This anchor wouldn't pass Pac Cup inspection, but it's a brilliant re-use of rebar:

Not beautiful but it works (4 curved bars jammed into a pipe).

The anchorage north of San Evaristo was one of our favorite spots and it was a good place to catch up on some boat work, but we had a date with destiny in La Paz which was to arrive there before the extreme heat of summer and get Cinnabar decommissioned for hurricane season.

We Arrive in La Paz on 6/13/13 - We checked into Marina Palmira, got internet access, and discovered that our old pals on Iolanthe were here in La Paz! Turns out they were leaving the next morning to head to San Diego so we quickly arranged to hook up for dinner in town. It was fantastic to hang with our pals once again, if only for an evening:
Dinner at Rancho Viejo in La Paz with Nick and Arthur from Iolanthe.
(The BEST arrichara (marinated and grilled flank steak) on the planet)

But so much for just hanging out and having fun. We've also been up to our ears in all sorts of boat projects and doing what it takes to get Cinnabar in shape to spend her summer in La Paz. More about those projects later, but for now we'll just say...Happy First Day of Summer!

More pics of San Evaristo and our first days in La Paz are HERE.

We discover microbrewed beer in La Paz (Baja Brewing Peliroja). We might never leave.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Looking Back at Agua Verde and Grilled Wahoo Pibil

Tom thinks I'm crazy because we are sitting in La Paz and I am still writing about places we visited a week ago. I explained to him that I am posting about these places because we liked them and I want to make sure we remember what we did there. Not to mention it is almost 100 degrees here and I need to take a break from decommissioning the boat for the summer, so I might as well do a blog post...

Presenting Agua Verde!

After we left Candeleros (on June 4) we went (motored in light winds) about 17 nm south to the bay of Agua Verde, a very popular anchorage with cruisers.
Yes, the water really is verde.
It has several beaches that are perfect for anchoring and snorkeling, hiking trails, and an active fishing village including a goat farm.

Agua Verde is absolutely stunning. The day we arrived I couldn't wait to get into the water and snorkel Pyramid rock.

Cinnabar anchored behind Pyramid Rock.
The rock, attached by a reef that is exposed at low tide, is home to schooling reef fish, cleaning stations, sea fans, urchins, sea cucumbers, and I even spotted a neon purple and yellow nudibranch! The gigantic under-water boulder formations made for a fascinating snorkel.
That evening we enjoyed cocktails as a flock of goats, their little bells tinkling sweetly, scampered up a hill to their farm on the other side.  After sunset we sat under the stars and watched the bright International Space Station orbit directly over our boat (at 17,000 mph, 223 mi overhead). It was truly a magical first night in this stunning bay.

Agua Verde is a very active fishing village, and now I feel kind of bad for griping about the noise in an earlier post, because the reality is that these fisher-people work day and night to make their living. The women get up at 5:00 a.m. along with the men so that they can make breakfast and lunch for the men. Then the pangas roar out of the bay and don't return until evening, where they unload their day's catch of gigantic Itajara grouper into trucks that take the fresh fish into the inland town of Ciudad Constitution two hours away on the other side of Baja. The fish are reportedly caught about 18 nm offshore at the relatively remote (and presumably virgin) Catalina Is. It appears to be pretty heavy fishing pressure on the particular area and fish type.

Pangueros unloading their catch.
(About 6-12 large [20 -50 lbs] grouper per boat. Almost no other fish type were seen) 
Sometimes the pangas leave again in the evening to go out and catch bait (squid), returning between 10:00 p.m. and midnight. 

There is lots of great hiking around Agua Verde, and one day we dinghied over to the west anchorage beach to hike some goat trails. We met a wonderful fisherman named Jose who moved to the beach 17 years ago because he wanted tranquility.
We spent about an hour talking to Jose.
Unfortunately for him, that day an extremely loud and active group of guys arrived, set up camp right next door, and partied day and night for days. So much for Jose's tranquility! (We later found out that some of these guys were assistant attorneys general from Mexico City. No wonder they needed to blow off some steam.)

We hiked up the steep goat trails for stunning views of the bay and Sea of Cortez.

Big bay of Agua Verde

Tom on the mountain top with Roca Solitaira in the background. We will snorkel Solitaria the next day.
Then we hiked over another mountain to a freshwater oasis and solitary beach.

Oasis where underground aquifer seeps out of the ground.
Enjoying solitude on the beach.

Solitary except for the hundreds of fiddler crabs who lived in the mudflats.

It was a long, hot day so we rewarded ourselves with a dunk in the water and a meal of our last Wahoo filets, marinated pibil-style and perfectly grilled (recipe at end of post).

Perfect meal of Wahoo Pibil on lentils with cucumbers in lime juice. And a cold beer of course!

The next day it was calm enough for us to dinghy out of the bay to Roca Solitaria for a freedive expedition.

Tom gets ready for the cold plunge.
The underwater terrain was beautiful, even with some current and tepid water temp, but we were disappointed (though not entirely surprised) to discover that the place was pretty much fished out. Oh well, we had a nice snorkel even though the speargun didn't get used and there was the definite Cool Factor of snorkeling offshore.

That night we went into the dusty town of Agua Verde. Unfortunately we got there too late to visit the goats, which was a disappointment for me, but hopefully there will be a next time. You already know all about the questionable meal we had at the "restaurant" in town...
Restaurant? What were we thinking?!?

 ...and that we were craving solitude after all the activity in Agua Verde, so the next day, feeling healthy and happy not to have contracted food poisoning, we weighed anchor and headed south to our next anchorage.

More pictures of Agua Verde are HERE.

After our dreadful meal in town I dreamed about the Wahoo Pibil we'd had the night before; I immediately wrote down the recipe so we could make it another time...

Achiote-Marinated Wahoo (or Other Fish)
This is a Pibil-style preparation just like the famous Yucatan dish Cochinita Pibil, except that you’re not using pork, you’re not marinating overnight, and you’re not cooking the meat for hours in a pit.

Approx. 6 fish filets, wahoo, yellowtail, cabrilla, snapper, dorado, salmon, whatever, or 1 pound piece of whole fish


3-5 Tablespoons Achiote Paste, or make your own
8 cloves garlic minced and mashed
½ tsp. dried oregano
1/2 cup naranja agria (sour orange juice) OR 1/2 cup orange juice plus ¼ cup lime juice 

¼ cup oil
To Taste: Salsa Macha (hot chiles in oil) or diced fresh habanero, jalapeno or Serrano

Optional wrapping: Banana Leaves, heat over flame to make pliable. Banana leaves add a subtle smoky flavor to the fish.

Mix all marinade ingredients together.
Two choices for marinating the fish:
1)    Cut fish into portion size and place in marinade no longer than 1 hour. 
2)    This will be baked. Line baking dish with banana leaves and let leaves hang over the side. Place filets or whole piece of fish in dish and cover with marinade. Let sit for one hour.

Some choices for cooking the fish:
1)    Grill - Salt and pepper fish, sprinkle some oil over the fish and place filets directly on medium flame. Be careful not to burn the achiote marinade.
2)    Grill in banana leaf packets – Salt and Pepper Fish. Place each filet in its own banana leaf and wrap it up. Grill for about 5-8 minutes on each side or until the fish is cooked to your liking. If you want, wrap each packet in foil so the marinade doesn’t leak all over the grill.
3)    Bake – Salt and pepper fish. Fold banana leaves over the fish that is marinating in the baking dish. Cover with foil and bake at 350 F. or until fish is cooked to your liking.

Pibil is traditionally served with lime or vinegar-marinated red onions, called Cebollas Encurtidos.

If you want to know how to make Puerco or Cochinita (piggy) Pibil, just watch this YouTube video by director Robert Rodriguez - Ten Minute Cooking School.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Looking Back at Los Candeleros, aka Ensenada Blanca, aka Wi-Fi Cove, aka Danzante Bay

Whew! We made it to La Paz and have spent the past couple of days getting settled, reconnecting with friends, making arrangements for Cinnabar's stay here during the summer, and reflecting upon the last few anchorages. Except for Los Candeleros, we were completely without internet and phone connections (egad! 7 days) until we got to La Paz. But we were able to communicate via Sailmail and our Single Sideband radio, which is pretty cool.

After leaving Puerto Escondido on June 1st (3 week stay), we went to the nearby anchorage of Honeymoon Cove at Isla Danzante. We had fond memories of this anchorage when we did a bareboat charter here over 20 years ago. We had heard on the morning radio net that several boats had enjoyed this cove, although there was a bit of a bee issue. Sure enough, as we motored into the empty cove to check out the anchorage we were immediately beset by bees swarming the boat.
See ya; wouldn't wanna bee ya! Tom waves goodbye to the Honeymoon bees.
Yikes! We went with Plan B and headed toward Los Candeleros back on the land side (a whopping 7 mile motor).

Los Candeleros, The Candlesticks, gets its name from three tall islets grouped on the southern side of the bay. Los Candeleros is also known as Ensenada Blanca, White Cove, due to its long white beach. Probably the most notable feature of Los Candeleros is the honking big resort, called Villa del Palmar at "The Islands of Loreto" (snort!), that sits smack dab in the middle of the bay.

Our view of the big, 7 story, 2 year old resort in the boonies (but great free wifi!)

Which leads us to the cove's nickname of Wi-Fi Cove, due to the excellent and free internet connection that boats can get from this hotel. It was very odd to see this deluxe resort just plopped in the middle of a dry, remote, desert bay.

Tom couldn't resist that long, white beach, so while he swam to shore for a beach run, I decided to snorkel to shore and go for a walk. Well I never actually made it to the beach because when I hit about 10 feet of water I saw the telltale double siphon holes of the famous local Chocolate Clams (pronounced Cho-ko-lah-tay). In about 15 minutes I had gathered enough of these babies for a nice clam ceviche lunch for two.

They were delicious diced and mixed with some fresh lime, onion, garlic, tomato, and dried chiles.
Clam ceviche with avocado, tostadas and beer. Yum!

One day we dinghied over to the south side of the bay and snorkeled around the point. It was full of schooling fish, reef fish, sea fans, sea pens, hydroids, coral and scallops. Some very cool Mexican barracuda kept swimming by to suss us out. 

After the snorkel we went to check out the resort. The assault of sudden greenery after months of earth tones was a shock. But we had to admit that the hotel grounds were quite beautiful and impressive (4 big pools shaped like turtle shells, but visitors have to pay to use them ($65 pp/day! Ah...NO thanks).
They sure must go through a lot of water keeping this place so green.
Apparently they have big plans for this place and plan to expand the hotel, add a big golf course, and numerous condos that will surround the bay. Oh, and they will give the place yet another name...Danzante Bay. We've noticed that many things in Mexico get started but never completed, so it will be interesting to see if the plans turn into reality.
The Dream - resort diorama, complete with golf courses, vacation home plots, and roads.

When we walked to the patio restaurant we had to admit that the view looking out into the bay was spectacular, and it truly did showcase The Islands of Loreto, the moniker we had originally scoffed at. OK, so we were wrong AGAIN.

Enjoying chilled drinks and eating crow for disparaging "The Islands of Loreto"
We enjoyed (expensive) drinks and yummy wood-fired pizza at the patio café while taking in the beautiful view. The night view was stunning as well, as we could see the lights of Puerto Escondido and the city of Loreto in the distance.

More pics from Los Candeleros can be found HERE.

We hated to leave Candeleros as it was a beautiful and pleasant anchorage, but it was time to keep moving south to lovely Agua Verde. There's lots more to Agua Verde than noise and an "interesting" restaurant, so stay tuned...

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Salty Dogs In San Evaristo

BE CAREFUL WHAT YOU WISH FOR - We're happy to report that our stomachs survived our little adventure to "Restaurante" Agua Verde, with our only battle scars being some flea bites around our ankles.

After kvetching about the noise in Agua Verde we were keen to leave and find another, less populated, anchorage. Maybe we should have just cooled our jets a little, stayed put, and used ear plugs, because our next anchorage, Los Gatos, though absolutely beautiful , was very active all night due to a significant southeast swell. We set a stern anchor to help keep us nose into the swell and this definitely helped alleviate the "rollies", but after rockin' and rollin' all night we woke with bags under our eyes and decided to postpone our Los Gatos land excursion for another day. We weighed anchor and headed south to hopefully find a calmer anchorage.

WORTH ITS WEIGHT IN SALT - Later that day we pulled into an expansive bay just north of the popular little bay and fishing village of San Evaristo. It looked to be well-protected from the dreaded SE Swell so we dropped the hook and let Cinnabar settle back into beautiful, calm water and light, cooling breeze. Ahhhh, life was good again! I even baked some fresh bread.

Turns out we are anchored next to a salt farm, so we dinghied ashore to explore the salt flats. I remember learning in a Food History class that, at one time, salt was more valuable than gold. In fact, there was a time when Roman soldiers were paid in salt, which is where the word SALARY comes from.

Tom pulled off a nice chunk of pure salt for me and, unlike the clueless and ungrateful King Lear, I immediately knew the value of this perfect offering.

We have been here for a few days and nights, enjoying the sublime conditions, solitude, and catching up on some boat projects. Alas, we must head south if we are to be in La Paz tomorrow as planned.

Posted via SailMail and SSB Radio - Hopefully the pic of Cinnabar, with La Salina (sal = salt in Spanish) in front and Isla San Jose in the background, comes through.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Agua Verde - Where the Water is Green and the Town is Brown

For the past three days we have been anchored in the lovely bay of Agua Verde. We've taken advantage of some excellent hiking and snorkeling, but nobody warned us about the NOISE!

To be fair, Agua Verde is a fishing village. Now we know exactly what that means. Think very LOUD pangas that roar into and out of the bay at all hours of the day and night. The bait pangas go out around sunset to fish for calamari to use as bait; then they come pounding back in a few hours later. The fishing pangas start leaving around 3:00 a.m. and are generally all gone by 7:30 a.m. Big trucks rumble down the dirt road, backing their rattling trailers into the surf, then dropping their pangas into the water. Gear is heaved into the boats, the gigantic outboards roar to life and the pangas blast out of the bay in a flurry of engine noise and boat wakes. They come pouring back into Agua Verde at the end of the day, loading their catch of almost exclusively big groupers into big trucks that head for the city of Constitution.

In addition to the fishermen, the afternoon we arrived, some modern and expensive 4X4 trucks crunched down the dirt road and noisily set up camp on a beach across from us. This group of young hombres, visitors from Cabo San Lucas, spend their day drinking beer, playing Mexican Pop, American Rock from the eighties, and Frank Sinatra at full volume from the time they wake up until the time they go to bed. When not drinking on the beach they are water skiing in circles around our boat. All of their activities are accompanied by yelling and hooting at the tops of their lungs.

Even the fish are loud. Last night schooling mullet fish kept jumping up and slapping themselves against the hull. We wonder if they are suicidal or just showing off for each other.

This evening we decided to walk into town to see some of the local color. We stumbled up a dusty road and were surprised to find a small Mini-Mart that actually carried some decent looking fruits and vegetables which we purchased. We were told there was a restaurant but there was nothing to drink there, and the Mini-Mart was out of beer, so we opted for a couple of sodas.

Feeling brave, we headed to the "restaurant". While we waited for the cook to prepare our meal, fish being the only choice, we were entertained by grandpa who scratched his belly, hocked a lugie, and clipped his fingernails nearby. He redeemed himself somewhat when he later chased off the cows that threatened to migrate through our patio. We were served our meal which consisted of a few strips of fried fish (which we'll admit tasted very fresh), a stiff blob of unheated refried beans, decent tortillas and passable pico de gallo. We shared our table with a family of ants, their cousins the flies, a diseased cat and some dusty and energetic mutts. What can we say? It was an experience of local color overload.

After dinner we made a bee-line to Cinnabar, engaged in the preemptive strike of a big spoonful of Pepto Bismal, poured ourselves a drink, and are now crossing our fingers for a comfortable night.

Much as we hate to leave Agua Verde, we'll probably tear ourselves away tomorrow and continue south. Not sure where our next anchorage will be, but I'm guessing it will NOT be a fishing village. Not if we can help it.

We are posting this via Single Side Band radio, so hopefully the picture comes through. The white building behind me with windows missing and no door is the restaurant kitchen. Really. The Coleman cooler in the corner next to the mop? That's the refrigerator. Really.

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Adiós Puerto Escondido! Hola…¿Dónde?

For ten very fun years out of my life I worked for a sailmaking, sail repair and technical sewing company. It was a real honest-to-goodness sail loft in that we were located upstairs in a huge room with windows all around. It was a great work environment, amazing experience for me, open and sunny, a staff of fun, multicultural and extremely talented people, and lots of REALLY COOL equipment and machinery. Our sail customers were typically very interesting people and for most of my 10 years there I was one of the primary contacts for our sailing customers. I got to know some of them quite well. We were all sad when the business moved to another area, boo hoo! But imagine my surprise this week when I realized that Cinnabar was moored smack dab between two of the Spinnaker Shop’s old customers! On one side we had Shindig, owned by one of the first sail repair customers I met, and on the other side was AirOps, whose owner dinghied over and reminded me that he was one of our customers. What a coincidence!

We had a lovely happy hour aboard the beautiful AirOps and I actually recognized a piece of canvas that I had helped measure some years ago. We spent a fun evening with Merry, Dave and their two adorable miniature schnauzers Mocha and Kiki.
Syl, Merry, Dave and Mocha. Happy Hour courtesy of AirOps.

We were impressed to learn that Dave assembled his Glacier Bay Refrigeration system himself (72 sweat joints!) and that he built his own watermaker. What a guy!
Dave and his watermaker.

The next night we had Shindig over to Cinnabar for dinner. (We wanted AirOps to come, too, but they were entertaining others that night.) Nancy arrived looking like a million bucks. She and Rob came with garlic prawns to grill, a bottle of wine AND a fresh strawberry rhubarb pie from Ettie’s Pie Shop in Loreto. No wonder they get invited to so many parties!
Tom, Nancy and Rob mackin' on the pie.
The pie was amazing and the crust would have been approved by my sister who makes THE BEST pie crust in the world.
It turns out that Rob and Nancy are neighbors of our back home, but we had to come all the way to Mexico to find that out.

Shindig left Puerto Escondido the next day and they were barely out of the marina before they were on the radio planning another get-together with some friends in another anchorage. I think those party animals aboard Shindig chose the right name for their boat.

Tom and I (although it mostly looks like Tom, doesn't it?) have spent the past week doing various boat repairs...
Replacing the genset impeller.
Sniffing for a refrigerant leak.

Cleaning Cinnabar's bottom., provisioning, making water, still coping with our troublesome refrigeration, and getting things in order for our next couple of weeks at various anchorages as we head toward La Paz, where Cinnabar will rest for the summer.
I doubt if we’ll have Wi-Fi after we leave Puerto Escondido but we’ll try to post an update or two via Single Side Band radio.

A final note, Merry from AirOps told us the dinghy chaps (pontoon covers) that they had made down here lasted about six months and then had to be restitched due to inferior thread. However, I noticed that the Spinnaker Shop covers they have (stitched with Goretex/Tenara) are still going strong. Go Spin Shop!!

So it's Goodbye Puerto Escondido! Last few pics are HERE.

Hello...Where to next?

Well, we're not exactly sure, so stay posted.