It is Thursday, 10 Nov 2016 and, that’s right, all is well here on Milagro. We got underway a little before dawn this morning to make the hour and a half run into Marina de La Paz. We chose early to avoid potentially strong afternoon winds and to time our arrival with a slack tide. Landing this rascal is much more predictable without current or wind to influence things. And an uneventful arrival it was. At 0710 we were secured in slip 212 at Marina de La Paz – our home base – and it feels good to be back “home” if only for a few weeks. At that time it was 77F outside with 61% humidity and 0 (zero) wind. Now where’s that work list?
It is Tuesday, Nov 8, 2016 – Election Day in the US – and, all is well here on the reasonably good ship Milagro. We moved today 55 nm to Isla San Francisco. I know, I know. In our last post we said we’d be aiming for San Evaristo and, so we did. Aim for it. At least until we were getting pretty close and still having a great sail, that is. That is when we decided to give SE a pass and continue the 10 additional miles to Isla S.F. So here we are. We left Agua Verde under lumpy sea conditions and N winds of just 4 kts. An hour later we had rounded Pt. Marcial and turned South which put the seas off our port quarter and the winds, now up to 12-15kts dead behind us. We managed wing-on-wing for a time but the quartering seas and diminishing wind eventually played havoc with the sails, flogging them badly, even with the jib poled out. By about 1030, with the wind behind us at only 7-8 kts, we turned to motoring. Then, about 1430, the winds filled back in and, with the wind still dead behind us but now up to 15-20 kts, we happily shut off the motor and resumed sailing making 5.5-6 kts under jib alone. Nice, eh? The seas had moderated some and were also more directly behind us so the ride was really nice. We were still enjoying these conditions upon approach to San Evaristo so decided to stay with it the 10 additional miles to Isla San Francisco. So, that’s where we are with the anchor set at 24 49.206’N 110 34.260’W in 38′ of very clear water over sand. OAT is 84F, humidity 45%, pool is 83F and the wind is N at 7-10 knts. Except for small wind chop, the water is flat. Manana we aim to move again and this leg will take us to Bahia Falsa – within shouting distance of La Paz. We plan 1 overnight there before into continuing on to Marina de La Paz on Thursday, Nov 10.
It is Monday, Nov 7, 2016 and all remains well onboard the fairly good ship Milagro. As advertised, we moved south today about 35 nm to Bahia Agua Verde. Sadly, it was a motorboat ride as the forecast 15 kt N wind was a no show. 3 to 4 knots from directly behind us was the best we saw and that wouldn’t serve very well to move us along downwind. Other nearby boats making similar passage tried flying big light air spinnakers but even they gave up after a time. Oh well, it happens that way more than we’d like to admit. Now we are anchored in the North lobe of Bahia Agua Verde in 40′ over sand/gravel at 25 31.269’N 111 04.391’W. OAT is 90F with 45% humidity and it’s 83.7 in the pool. Wind is blasting in from the North at 3-4 kts. Our intention is to continue our Southing tomorrow with our objective being the anchorage at San Evaristo. At this rate we could arrive at the marina in La Paz as early as Thursday, Nov 10. We keep running into friends (2 boats here) and more ahead. We could find the temptation to linger somewhere just too compelling to resist. So, we’ll see. Hasta manana, y’all.
It is Sunday, November 6, 2016 and all is well on Milagro.
This summer has been crazy busy with travel and all sorts of other events. A 4600 mile motorcycle ride for me while Judy took granddaughter Harper to Disney World followed by us traipsing around Europe for 5 weeks with our good friends Rick and Pam. Then there was the acquisition of a new (to us) motorhome to sort out. And, just like that, we’ve been away from Milagro for just a bit over 4 months. It went by so fast it just doesn’t seem possible that it’s been that long.
We returned to Milagro where she waited patiently for us in her slip at Marina San Carlos. That was late on Wednesday. On Saturday (yesterday) we blasted off for the overnight passage from the mainland to Baja arriving this morning after logging our fastest time for that passage yet. 113 nm in 19:30 minutes won’t set any records but we did it entirely under sail while enjoying a (mostly) pleasant ride.
We are anchored now at Bahia Ballandra on Isla Carmen – about 9 miles offshore from the town of Loreto. We will continue marching southward tomorrow as we have made a commitment to be in La Paz for a visiting relative by Nov 14. That won’t leave much rose smelling time but will work out fine if we just move some each day.
On our passage we experienced NW winds mostly in the 12-14kt range with a few periods where it got closer to 18-19. A NW swell made things a bit rolly at times though not overly so. About 0300 it started decreasing until we were drifting into the anchorage on a 3-5 kts.
We are anchored at 26 01.063’N 111 09.860’W in 20′ of clear water over a sand bottom. OAT is 88, humidity 49%. It’s 82 in the pool. Wind is currently up to 6 kts from the WNW though the sea inside the bay is flat.
It is Friday, 17 June 2016 and all is well onboard Milagro. We have completed our 110nm passage from the Baja Peninsula to the mainland arriving at San Carlos, Sonora at 0840 (MST). The passage was a mixed bag but totally fine. We didn’t expect any wind useful for sailing but were pleased to find that wasn’t entirely the case. The first couple of hours was dead calm and required motoring but after that things improved. The wind varied in strength from 0 to 12 kts starting out from SE and moving around in the night to come from the E. So, it came and went driving us to fly the light air sail, put it away and motor, then put it out again and eventually stow the big light air sail in favor of the regular jib and main. At one time or another, we saw flat, glassy water, 1′ to 2′ close spaced SE swell as well as no swell with 1′ confused chop. A mixed bag sure enough. In the end, we were able to log about 50% of the passage under sail alone with the remainder a mix of motorsailing (sails up and contributing), sailing and motoring alone.
We did have a bit of excitement at Sunset on Thursday when conditions were finally right to produce a “Green Flash” for us. After years of watching for one and listening to others recount their experiences this was our first honest to goodness, real green flash. Now we’ve seen one, very cool.
We anchored in Bahia San Carlos at 27 56.823’N 111 03.710’W in 20′ over sand/gravel. OAT was 87, 65% humidity, 83 sea temp and wind E at 4kts. Water is flat and green with visibility about 15′. We moved into Marina San Carlos at 1250 where Milagro will cool her heels for the remainder of the summer while her crew does some land traveling. We expect to return to her in October and resume our Mexico and Sea of Cortez sailing. Hasta luego, y’all.
It is Thursday, 16 June 2016 and all is well here on Milagro. We got ourselves underway just about 30 minutes ago from Isla Coronado bound for San Carlos, Sonora. The forecast indicates that it will mostly be a motorboat ride but we have the light air sails rigged and ready with our fingers crossed. We’ve made this crossing 4 times before and have sailed the bulk of it each time so, while we don’t expect the same this time, we are hopeful. We expect to arrive in the early morning tomorrow. In the meantime, we are noisely puttering along while trying to whistle up some wind. Hasta luego.
One of the reasons we have enjoyed the Sea of Cortez is the sea life. We’ve described some of it in previous posts but today I ran across this well done video by the BBC that illustrates the subject so much better than we can.
We are back in the marina at La Paz for a few weeks. Tomorrow Milagro will be hauled out to get a fresh new coat of bottom paint and to accomplish a couple of other chores best done out of the water. By night we will be staying with Ana Hall who lives only 3 blocks from the Yard and by day Michael will be providing close supervision of the work. More to follow.
58 days ago we parked Milagro in a slip at Marina San Carlos in order to accomplish a number of things. First, the arthritis in Judy’s lower back was crying out for another treatment that would deaden the associated nerves -this is a recurring issue on roughly a 6 month cycle. She needed to travel to her doctor in the SF Bay Area for this. Second, we planned to haul Milagro in order to repaint the bottom of the hull. That part of the hull that lives under the water wears a special paint to keep barnacles and other marine growth from setting up their homes there. This needs repainting every 2 or 3 years and Milagro is due. Then, we also had a “vacation” planned that cause us to be away for a number of weeks and we wanted a secure place to leave Milagro while we were gone.
Judy rode the bus North to PHX then flew on to SF on the day after our arrival. I stayed on to complete some boat projects (there are ALWAYS boat projects) and to configure Milagro to fend for herself. As the time we would be gone is historically an active hurricane period this included removing all sails and outside canvas as well as making sure it would be hard for the sun (it’s PHX hot here) and bugs to get inside.
With the vacation behind us, family and friends visited and much shopping accomplished we finally made it back home to Milagro late on Tuesday, October 7. The “vacation” included visits to Barcelona, Tenerife, Antigua, St. Maarten, St. Kitts, a week in Puerto Rico, and then Orlando with Phoenix on both ends. Jeez, did we really need that much vacation? I guess. Maybe.
In any case, it is really good to be back on board. Even more exciting was finding that Milagro had managed our absence well. In spite of several hurricanes passing through this area while we were gone, including the very destructive “Odile”, Milagro was fine.
Many thanks are due Chip for volunteering to help us get home and to Amy for giving him a pass to do so. The Enterprise car rental folks were happy to let us take their car to San Carlos (about an 8 hour drive) but we had to bring it back to PHX. Nope, no one way rentals to San Carlos. We had planned to take the bus again but we had enough stuff with us that dragging all those bags off and back on every time someone wanted to inspect them (that happens several times on this international route) was not going to be fun. Between Chip and Enterprise though, we found this other option that was big on convenience and only a wee bit more pricey than the bus would have been. Plus we all got to enjoy a road trip together. Win, win.
After leaving her secured for weathering hurricanes there was much work to do to get Milagro ready to once again go to sea. In addition, I had sent her alternator in to a shop in the US for a rebuild while we were away and it had not been returned in time for us to bring back with us. Now it had to be shipped to San Carlos as we could not leave without it installed and working. In spite of the many horror stories often heard about shipping things into Mexico our experience (this time) is completely different. Via DHL the box made it from San Diego to Marina San Carlos in less than 48 hours – including more than 6 hours in the hands of Mexican Customs in Hermosillo! Incredible!
So now, all the work is done, groceries are bought and stowed and nothing stands in our way except a pause at the fuel dock on our way out. We plan a laid back morning today that will include checking out the Sunday buffet at the marina’s resort then we will get out of the marina sometime in the middle part of the day. After fueling we’ll anchor overnight in San Carlos Bay and then get underway for real first thing tomorrow morning, Monday Oct 13. Our first leg will be a run of roughly 24 hours to make Isla Coronados, on the Baja side of the Sea of Cortez, near Loreto. From there we will enjoy many of the countless lovely Baja anchorages as we work our way South towards La Paz.
What’s that? What about the haul out and bottom paint? Good question. When it came down to the details, the Boat Yard Manager and I could not reach an agreement regarding the cost of the project so we aborted. It still needs doing but now we’ll be shopping the project around to some of the other yards. Both Mazatlan and La Paz have excellent places to get this done and either could be convenient for us. We’ll have to see how it plays out.
We enjoyed a month and a bit in beautiful (but hot) Bay of Los Angeles. The parade of wildlife never stopped and there was a nice group of cruisers to interact with when we felt like being social. There was even an organized “Full Moon” party on the beach and estuary at La Mona. Good times.
We had to bug out a little early though for a couple of reasons. Judy’s lower back problems require occasional treatment (radial frequency ablation) to help manage the pain and she organized one of those through the internet at the BLA village. That plus, we needed a vacation from this brutally demanding lifestyle of ours. Apparently. At least, that’s what the Princess says and thus it is so.
Off we went for the Marina at San Carlos, Sonora. A comfortable and secure place to leave Milagro while we chased these other things. Regular and inexpensive bus service directly to Phoenix was attractive as well. Judy was able to get her procedure thereby increasing her prospects for reduced pain for the next several months. Then, keeping up our momentum, we proceeded to Barcelona (España) to begin our vacation – a cruise ship ride across the Atlantic Ocean.
I know, right? A boat ride? We could have stayed “home” and had a boat ride! And weren’t we concerned that Milagro might be jealous? We probably should be but here we are doing it anyway.
We board the ship about noon tomorrow, Saturday, September 6 but we have enjoyed a couple of days playing tourist in Barcelona. And, while we’ve only been able see a fairly small portion of it, I have a new city to add to my short list of favorites – Barcelona, the cultural heart of Catalonia. Judy feels the same.
Most of you know that my former life caused me to visit many, many cities all over the world – way too many, maybe. Of course I did develop some favorites like Singapore, Paris, Shanghai, Vancouver, Sydney and others but I have to say, Barcelona deserves a spot on that list as well. It strikes me as sort of
like Paris but nicer; just as pretty and engaging but cleaner and easier to navigate. I have never had anything but positive interactions with Parisians – well, there was that one time we got on the wrong train and spent the entire night and no small amount of Euros trying to get back. We were CS gassed by a group of teenaged boys at some remote station way south of Paris, but that’s another story. A little drinking may have been involved. Barcelona seems a little friendlier somehow. The jury is still out regarding a food comparison with Paris although Paris would be awfully hard to beat in that department. Still, it seems to be as varied and as good. Another visit, or two, and we could answer that question with more conviction.
A clean, friendly, well laid out city in a beautiful setting, Barcelona deserves much more time than we have been able to give her. I don’t know how or when we could pull it off however, we are certain that we would like to return and spend more time here.
Our Transatlantic cruise will terminate in San Juan, Puerto Rico on September 20 where we will spend an additional week playing tou
rist along with our long time good friends Wally & Kristi Lawrence. While there are several variables that could affect this date, we believe we’ll rejoin Milagro on, or about, the end of the first week of October.
Most of us don’t pay very much attention to what nature is up to when leading “normal”, land based lives. Out here, living like we do now, it is all around us – sort of in our face, every day. We are usually in a position to notice most of it and sometimes it’s pretty impressive.
We did not do any fishing until after leaving Santa Rosalia because, frankly, the fridge and freezer were too full to stuff anything else into them. Yes, we are way over provisioned. Eventually though, that problem fixed itself and we threw a line in the water on Friday after leaving Santa Rosalia. That netted us a small Dorado late in the day and we enjoyed it blackened that night. Even Judy said Yum!
On our next leg, to Animas Slot, we snagged two more Dorado. The first measuring 37″ and the second 48″. Now we needed that freezer room!
But it’s not all about harvesting fish. Along our way we are always treated to first one show and then another. Jumping Mobula rays, pods of Spinner Dolphins capering about, Bottlenose Dolphins either chasing their dinner or riding our bow wave, Pilot Whales, Sea Lions and all manner of birds. Other boaters in our area have reported Grey Whale encounters but we’ve not seen those nor Blue Whales or Orcas either. They’re all here, we just haven’t been in the right place at the right time quite yet.
In Puerto Don Juan we had our first sighting of Blue Footed Boobies. They are an unusual bird found in mass on Isla Isabela way south along the mainland coast. Consequently we didn’t expect to see one until we could visit that island. Striking birds, their webbed blue feet seem to steal away from an otherwise dignified appearance leaving them odd or comical looking. We found a pair hanging out on a small group of rocks along with Pelicans, Cormorants, Grebes, several varieties of Gulls and others we couldn’t name. Pretty cool.
Friday we spied a pair of Whale Sharks feeding only a couple of hundred yards from where we sat anchored so we had to go take a closer look. I got to swim with them as they carved wide circles until I had had enough. Judy chose to man the dinghy and camera instead of joining me. Sadly, we didn’t get the awesome photos you always hope will go along with this sort of thing but we did get a few poor ones. This is the third time I’ve gotten to swim with these massive creatures and, since we are still banging around in their neighborhood, it may not be the last chance either. Maybe we will do better with the photos next time.