Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Au Revoir, Adios, Farewell From La Paz - Puddle Jump on Shindig

Meet s/v SHINDIG, a beautiful Oyster 485, our home for the next few weeks. Here she is racing in the Banderas Bay Regatta, 2013. (all photos courtesy of Shindig Sailing)

Tom and Sylvia are aboard the good ship SHINDIG, bound for French Polynesia. 

Today we leave the dock at La Paz and will head to a nearby anchorage to wait for a northerly that is supposed to arrive on Thursday. We'll use those winds to kick start us on our journey across the Pacific. 

To track Shindig's position and progress: Shindig In Progress

We will also try to post to our own site if possible.

The Crew:

Sylvia and Tom


Captain Rob
And a huge thanks to the ground crew: SHINDIG owner Nancy (Rob's wife) and her sister Elaine (JD's wife) for all the work they put in to helping get SHINDIG ready for her next adventure. 

JD, Elaine, Nancy, Rob

We are excited and honored to be a part of it.

Monday, March 20, 2017

Road Trip La Paz to the Santa Rosalia Ferry, or Will We Have to Think of a Plan C?

In Loreto, wondering if we'll catch the ferry.

To Review:

Plan A - Take the Santa Rosalia Ferry to Guaymas on Friday. Nope - Friday Ferry canceled due to bad conditions in the Sea of Cortez.

Plan B - Try to make it onto the Sunday morning ferry in Santa Rosalia.

Since we were "stuck" in Loreto for a couple of nights we decided to make the most of it by getting a hotel room and visiting the nearby historic town of San Javier the next day. As luck would have it that weekend was Carnaval so a lot of people were in town, 65 planes from the Baja Bush Pilots had just arrived, and there was a huge biker convention going on. In short, Loreto was packed and it seemed there was no room at the inns.

After checking numerous hotels we finally found a stately old hotel on the edge of town that had just re-opened and they had one room available for one night only. We took it and figured we would deal with tomorrow night's lodging later.

A nice view from our hotel room. Note the wind howling through the palm trees.

The next day as we were leaving for San Javier, just about two blocks from our hotel we drove by a colorful sign that cheerfully advertised "RV Park - Tents Welcome!" We drove in and found an immaculately clean little RV park with plenty of room.

Can't beat it for $8 a night!

Our little corner.

We set up our campsite and headed out for San Javier, located high in the mountains about 25 miles from Loreto.

We had to cross numerous streams flowing across the road to get to our destination.

A tail-gate lunch with one of the locals.

Mission San Javier was founded in 1699 by the Jesuit Priests. It was a good location due to the presence of rivers and natural springs. 

Also, the friendly local Cochimi indians were willing to be baptized and to assist in building aqueducts, dams, stone walls and buildings, many of which exist today. 

Water flowing to nearby crops of citrus, dates and olives.

Their reward for helping the Jesuits? Extinction due to disease.

Today the mission exists in a town of 216 inhabitants and, now a functioning church, it is considered to be a jewel among Baja's missions. Its original windows are the first pieces of glass (brought overland by donkey) to be imported into Baja. Some of the stone baptismal fonts are also originals from 1699.

Tom, do NOT touch that bell rope!
A steep drive back down to Loreto from the Sierra de la Giganta mountains.

After spending a thoroughly enjoyable day in San Javier we returned to Loreto for dinner and walked over to the malecon to see the sights of Carnaval.

The next day we drove up to Santa Rosalia, wondering if the ferry would be in our future. At the ferry office there was a big sign posted in the window telling us that the delayed ferry would depart at 9:00 a.m. the next day and that all passengers should be there at 7:00 with their tickets in hand. What? We didn't have tickets! 

We found a hotel and when we told the concierge we were hoping to take the ferry to Guaymas he advised us to be at the ticket office no later than 6:30 a.m.

We arrived early the next a.m. and were the second vehicle in the car line. I was the first in line at the ticket office. 

The office didn't open until 8:00 and as I stood in place guarding my spot it became apparent that nobody else had tickets either. The line grew and Mexicans and Gringos alike shuffled around nervously hoping to get tickets. Finally the ticket agent arrived. Her first words to me were "Do you have a reservation?" Luckily, because Tom had made reservations over the phone I purchased our tickets with no drama. Whew!

We met Eric and Shelley from Baja Bush Pilots who were right behind me in line.

After the cars were inspected by the Mexican Navy and their sniffer dogs we were able to drive the tundra onto the ferry. We finally breathed sighs of relief, we were actually going to Guaymas!

The vehicle hold of the ferry could contain two large semis (which rolled off the ferry when it arrived) or about twelve passenger cars. 

El Capitan was a hoot, first he told me he was the ticket agent, then he told me he was the parking attendant, then he finally admitted he was the ferry captain.
Departing Santa Rosalia

It was a glorious day and all fears of nasty weather floated away on the light breeze. For the next 9 hours we enjoyed a calm and pleasant trip across the sea. Tom napped and I sat outside the entire way, reading a book, talking to other passengers, and appreciating the perfect conditions.

An after-dark arrival in Guaymas

We spent the next few days day in San Carlos at Kitty and Joe's adorable condo. 

Yet another great view! Sunrise at the condo.

Joe and Tom start the day with Yoga.
Tom and Joe ride bicycles to the boat yard.

It was fun to reconnect with old friends and we were able to help out a bit as they worked hard to get their boat TELITHA back in order after she had been bashed about in one of last year's hurricanes. During Hurricane Newton two other boats in the yard fell into TELITHA and caused her to be dismasted.

Kitty and Joe prep the new mast. Hopefully it will be installed the next day.

Our reward after a day at the boatyard, drinks on the beach.
This is as close as Tom got to kiting in San Carlos. Maybe next time.

The next day we were able to see TELITHA get her new mast which was a happy day for all.

The mast is "stepped", i.e. successfully installed. TELITHA looks like a boat again!

Kitty, Sylvia and Toni (ALI'I KAI), TELITHA and her new mast in the background.

We could have spent a lot more time in the agreeable town of San Carlos but it was now March and we had to return home. 

Crossing the border into Lukeville, Arizona

Camping on BLM land just north of the border. Yes, we could get data from Verizon!

Back in California!

Tom bonds with a Joshua Tree.

We only had a few days back in the SF Bay Area to wrap up business and prepare for 1) our flight back to La Paz, and 2) our upcoming sail from La Paz to French Polynesia aboard the good ship SHINDIG.

Lots more pics here - ALBUM: La Paz to California

The adventure continues. For the next few weeks it will be aboard s/v SHINDIG. Stay tuned...

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Windy and Warm in Baja

No more Cold California for us, we made it to Baja.

La Ventana - After a 2-day drive from San Diego to Baja we arrived in La Ventana, the wind mecca of Baja California Sur, so Tom could get some kiting in with friends Nancy and Rob (s/v SHINDIG). We found a great little campground close to their rental and right above the beach with an excellent launching spot.

Rob and Nancy in front of their wonderful rental, Casa Baloncillo, named after some cool little birds that perch on cactus spines.

Some strong northerlies arrived in La Ventana just a few days after we did. They blew constantly day and night for several days. Tom had to jump a barbed wire fence and erect a tarp windbreak to keep our tent from blowing inside out. 

Home sweet tent. Check out Tom's windbreak behind the tent.

The La Ventana Classic kiting competition was happening the weekend we arrived. The 25+ knot northerlies created some gnarly shore break which challenged the competitors.

The competitors who survived entering the shore break got to contend with some strong and gusty winds.

The La Ventana Classic benefits the local schools and the festivities include local singing and dancing performed by the kids, raffles, parties, and dances. Some kids participated by painting the official LV Classic bus.

I think the theme for painting the bus is "Anything Goes".

Rob (s/v SHINDIG) rippin' it up on a perfect kiting day.

Home Base, La Paz - After a week of camping we (as in Sylvia) were ready to move our home base over to La Paz. Our friends Lola and Manny referred us to a terrific apartment above our old marina (Palmira) that we could rent for just a month. Good price, terrific view, and a really cool dog to play with. Score!

Tom with our landlord Teddy

We spent the month of February socializing, celebrating birthdays and Valentine's Day, and spending time with friends we had made during our three years in La Paz.

Decorating for the annual Valentine dance.
(Heidi, Suzanne, Dianne, Sylvia, Sharon)
Mmm...wine and chocolate sundaes! We really missed our friends in La Paz.
Lola, Conchita, Rob, Sylvia, Tom.

Before we headed back to California we wanted to visit our friends Kitty and Joe (s/v TELITHA) whom we had met our first year cruising. They were in San Carlos, near Guyamas on the mainland, working on their boat that had been damaged in a hurricane last year. Tom did some sleuthing and found out we could drive north to Santa Rosalia and take an 8-hour car ferry across the sea of Cortez to Guaymas. After a few phone calls he made reservations for us and the Tundra to leave on the next Friday morning ferry.

Just another spectacular sunset from our apartment balcony. 

We said goodbye to our friends and to our apartment with its magnificent view, and left on Thursday morning for our 7-hour drive north to Santa Rosalia. Our friend Terry from s/v CETUS hitched a ride with us as far as Puerto Escondido, just south of Loreto.
We stop for breakfast at our favorite carnitas stand in El Centenario. Sylvia and Terry with the staff of Carnitas Puro MIchoacan. SO delicious. 

Bad News - When Tom called the ferry office to confirm the reservations he was told that conditions in the sea were too perilous (high winds and big waves) for the ferry to run so our Friday reservation was postponed to the following Sunday, and perhaps even Wednesday! 

Tom and Terry in Puerto Escondido. The anchorage is well-protected so it appears deceptively calm. It was actually extremely windy just outside the anchorage.

After we dropped Terry off we talked about what to do. If we were put off to the Wednesday ferry that would be too late, as we were planning to leave Mexico around that date. Should we bail on the plan and head straight over to Scorpion Bay on the Pacific side of Baja for some surfing and camping? We decided we really wanted to see Kitty and Joe. When we called them to tell them the news they said they would extend their stay by a couple of days and urged us to give it a try, so we chose to be optimistic and keep our fingers crossed that we would make the Sunday ferry. We continued driving north to Loreto where we would somehow entertain ourselves for a couple of days.

Would we get on the Sunday ferry? And if we did get on the ferry what would the conditions in the Sea of Cortez be like? We'd heard horror stories about being on the Baja ferries during nasty weather.

We would know in two days.

ALBUM: Windy and Warm in Baja