Search This Blog

Monday, November 09, 2009

Back in La Paz

With the approach of Hurricane Rick, which early on was being forecast as a very severe hurricane destined for La Paz, Shawn flew down early to sit with Om Shanti through the winds. Luckily the storm weakened and veered to the east, and the worst Shawn saw was heavy rains and flooded streets. I flew down a week and a half later after a nice visit with my family in Yakima, WA, and was pleasantly surprised by a very clean boat, completely put back together. After seven years of dirty boat yards and never ending projects, I was definitely given the princess treatment this year. We are currently in Marina Palmira enjoying life back in La Paz and soaking up the sunshine. We recently returned from a two day road trip to Cabo San Lucas and San Jose del Cabo for the awards ceremony of the 2009 Baja HaHa group. Our publishing company was a sponsor this year so we traveled down with Dennis and Susan of Ross Marine Services and welcomed this year's group of HaHa'ers. Our future plans remain open ended, but there's no better place to contemplate the future than peaceful La Paz!

La Paz Entrance Buoy Update

We heard over the morning net today from Tom of Baja Insider that the entrance buoys to La Paz might have moved around a bit after last week's high tides and the norther that blew through. We were curious so we took the dinghy, GPS and handheld depth sounder to check things out. Nothing too dramatic, just FYI.

La Paz Entrance Buoys
A direct line between the first red buoy (unmarked) and red buoy #2 takes you very close to the bar. The shallowest we saw was 5.8 feet at zero tide. My advice would be to steer clear of the red buoys and favor the first green buoy (unmarked) and green buoy #1. (These are the buoys in front of the Bercovich Boat Yard and Costa Baja Marina.) The unmarked red buoy and red buoy #1 have always been close to the bar so I don't know if they have moved or not. Red buoy #6 has actually broken away and is now sitting on the sand bar between red buoy #8 and red buoy #10. Looking down the channel you can see a long stretch with no red buoy (where #6 should be). Red buoy #6 is currently at 24 11.7N, 110 18.339W, but the next high tide might change that. Needless to say, don't steer towards red buoy #6. Red buoy #10 seems to have gotten a fresh coat of paint, however no one has bothered to repaint "#10" on the buoy - it's faint under the new coat of paint. Finally, red buoy #12 looks to be stretched to the end of its tether at high tide and is a little lower in the water than the rest, but seems to be in a good spot, although probably a new spot judging by its tether.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

New 2nd Edition Coming Soon!

We are extremely excited to announce the 2nd edition to the Sea of Cortez guide will be coming very soon. We spent the majority of the summer with our noses behind the computer screens updating and including many new additions to the guide. We have just received word from our printer that we can expect to have the book in October. We have added a few sample pages and additional information to our website from the new edition -

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Cruising the Sea

Our home for 3 weeks on m/v Ursa Major

Heather whale watching

Captain Josh and Shawn on a high speed dinghy trip

Kayaking in the mangroves of Amortajada

Old salt evaporation ponds

A blue whale spotted

A pod of pilot whales

Manta rays cruising just under the surface

Curious, juvenile sea lions

Sunday, March 01, 2009

Cooling Down With Our New Best Friend

At the end of January, Shawn and I flew back home to try our luck at selling a few sun-filled inspirational guides on the Sea of Cortez to the winter bound Pacific Northwesterners at the Seattle Boat Show. While we always look forward to our trips back to Washington, our 4 ½ hour flight delay, which was due to thick fog throughout the state, did not encourage us to leave the warmth of the San Jose del Cabo airport and turn our icy Pacifico beers in for scalding cups of Starbucks coffee. The show was a success, while not as large or as well attended as the previous year, we still managed to talk a few cruisers into escaping the cold, dark northern winters and heading for the land of eternal sunshine and warm Decembers – no foul weather gear necessary.

After the long nonstop 10-day show, Shawn and I took a break for a day and sat in luxurious silence before heading east of the mountains for a visit with my family. While in Yakima, I was lucky enough to live my cowgirl dreams, chasing cows and riding through the sagebrush with my mom and her 2 beautiful horses. And what trip to
Washington in February is complete without a play day in the snow? Armed with snowshoes and a thermos of coffee, we joined my parents and headed into the mountains to visit my grandfather’s cabin. On the way up, we stopped at both the elk and the mountain sheep feeding stations to view the well-feed, pampered wildlife. We spent the afternoon plodding through a brilliant sunlit

prairie, backed by snow-covered mountains, and hot coffee back in the heated comfort of the cabin.

Anxious for our 3,000-mile road trip back to La Paz, we loaded the truck down with an amazing assortment of boat goodies including a fuel tank, water tank, canvas material, and the life-altering refrigeration, before hitting the highway once again. Shawn was visibly excited at the thought of so many big projects, which would surely require the use of every single tool, gadget and screw on our boat to complete all the necessary repairs and installations. I on the other hand, was a bit apprehensive for all the exact same reasons. I most definitely appreciate a difficult, but fulfilling project. However, the thought of living once again in a tool-filled war zone with approximately 4 cubic feet of uncluttered, non-oily living space is not

necessarily my “happy place” like it is for my other half who seems to relish in the beauty of being surrounded by saws, grinders, dirt, and thirty some odd different kinds of wrenches. It is worth any amount of chaos and project frustration however, for the chance to convert our wet and funky icebox into the miracle of refrigeration.

Our trip southbound was pleasantly uneventful and quick. We crossed the border this time at Tecate, which to our surprise was a very nice experience – friendly and hospitable locals, quick customs and immigration, and a very clean town. A far cry from the chiclet-insanity of Tijuana. We spent our first night back in Baja, which also coincided with Valentine’s Day, camped at our favorite spot in Catavina. In honor of Valentine’s Day, we celebrated in style sipping cold beer and eating bacon-wrapped hot dogs under the stars while sitting on the tailgate of the truck in front of the mini super convenience store. Romance is all in the eye of the beholder I suppose, because we loved every minute of it!

We hit La Paz just in time to celebrate the start of Carnival. The majority of the downtown waterfront was taken over by rides, games, food stalls, beer tents and the infamous blanket vendors who hawk their wares over a blaring microphone at sonic speeds. During the last 3 nights of the celebration, the parade is held with colorful floats adorned with even more colorfully dressed dancers. Carnival in La Paz is a very wholesome and family oriented event, with the closest thing to a beaded necklace being thrown is a confetti-filled, hollowed Easter egg. And the closest thing to “chichis” being flashed is watching the Tecate (a local beer) Girls bounce around to music in their bikinis.

Carnival was definitely a welcome distraction from nonstop projects, but an even more welcome distraction has been Dishes (named for doing the dishes). Dishes visits numerous times a day without any prompting to jump onboard and ironically lingers in the companion way after dinner. But, after nearly 2 weeks of projecting, we now have a new water tank, fuel tank, cushion covers, bilge pump, reinsulated icebox, and we are moments away from refrigeration. If all goes well, tonight we will be listening to the comforting sound of a compressor working to chill our beer and freeze our ice. Keep your fingers crossed!

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Wonder Twins Reunite

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Good Times With Family

On December 10th, my parents were able to fly down to La Paz for a week visit with us. We had a great time exploring the East Cape coastline, touring La Paz and relaxing on the beaches. It was a real treat to have family visit so close to Christmas and to show them our second "home" in Mexico. Just as they were beginning to work on their tans and enjoy life under palm trees and white sand beaches, they had to return home to Yakima, Washington where they were treated to temperatures hovering around -5 degrees F.

We rented a car and drove across the peninsula to Bahia de los Muertos for lunch on the beach. Sitting under a palapa roof drinking cold beers and margaritas, life was pretty good! Afterward, we headed north to Bahia la Ventana where we were entertained by dozens of kiteboarders and windsurfers. It was an amazing display of organized chaos as kites and boards zigzagged across the water - I half expected to see a growing ball of snagged kite strings and windsurfers rolling across the bay, but everyone was in perfect harmony with each other.

On our last full day, we took Om Shanti up to our favorite beach at Bahia Balandra for an adventure of swimming and beach combing. The day was beautiful and warm, which was a treat to jump into the ever cooling water (the water temperature has dropped over 10 degree F in the last month and a half).

My mom was even lucky enough to catch two beautiful sierras on the way up and back. One fish unfortunately threw the lure once at the boat, but the second fish was made into a very tasty ceviche. Back at the dock, we enjoyed a lovely sunset while sipping wine in the cockpit - once again, life is very good!

Friday, November 28, 2008

Back to the Islands

We spent a little over a week out at the national park islands of Espiritu Santo and Partida which was a wonderful escape from the hustle and bustle of city life. It also gave us a nice break from the habitual spending that usually accompanies day to day life near a large town. Somehow luxuries become necessities for us in the city. If it's available, it is our duty to make sure that shop owners unburden us from the weight of our wallets for all those must have like fruity popsicles, cans of marine varnish, grilled hamburgers, and bags and bags of ice.

Out at the islands we had an amazing time and fulfilled our need to detach and experience the simple and easy way of life out at anchor. We spent our days teasing fish with our lure, proving to ourselves how out of shape we are on a

couple of hikes, and trying our best to drink our store of beer before the ice melted. The days have been pleasantly warm, the wind and weather perfect and the swimming fantastic.

We even broke out our dusty set of bocce balls and had an off-road bocce tournament with the crew of the charter boat Ursa Major. While we tried to secure our seat as champions by spiking their coke with a little rum, we were thoroughly beat by the talented and amazing arm of Emily, who later divulged her history of playing softball in college. We shared a number of anchorages with Ursa Major and a few more sunset cocktail hours and evening meals with Josh and Emily, which was a great and entertaining time.

With a book signing to attend in La Paz for Allende Books and the anticipation of a real shower that does not include the use of a kettle warming on the stove and a solar bag dangling from the boom, we eventually headed for home. We are currently at anchor near the Mogote in La Paz where every 10-20 minutes we get the chance to wave to new groups of workmen and tourists who are being shuttled back and forth to the new resort development on the Mogote. Unfortunately for the captain of the shuttle, we, along with 20 other boats, seem to have anchored on his route. Luckily for all of us, he has not taken our rudeness personally and sticks to a very efficient path through the boats giving us all at least a foot of clearance, plus or minus an inch or so.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

To the Islands and Back

After a two week stay in our favorite Mexican city, we left La Paz for the nearby national park islands of Isla Espiritu Santo and Isla Partida. Unfortunately, as we left the dock, the north wind began to fill in and made for a bouncy, rolly trip north so we headed in to an anchorage just a few miles outside of town. With no schedule to follow, we've found over the years that beating into weather is not a fun path to adventure and relaxation. Nor does it keep the ladies happy, which is helpful in keeping the peace between husband and wife on a 32 foot boat.

Soaking up the sun, we enjoyed a couple of days of non-stop swimming and snorkeling in the 85 degree water. Coming from the frigid water of Washington, it is an amazing luzury to jump off your boat wearing only a swimsuit in crystal blue water.

With settled weather, we headed north once again to Isla Espiritu Santo where we ran into friends. We had a very enjoyable evening together - socializing, cocktails and a beautiful salmon dinner (salmon from their summer in Alaska). Unfortunately, the following day we had to head back into La Paz to attend to outboard motor repairs and to escape southwesterly winds that had resulted in a fairly sleepless night.

On our way back into town, we came across 2 boats anchored outside the harbor, the 289-foot sailing yacht, Maltese Falcon, and the 295-foot motor yacht, Ice. Both boats are spectacular in size and we can only dream of the amenities on board. The Maltese Falcon, owned by Tom Perkins, is quite a sight with 3, nearly 200-foot tall, masts- each brilliantly lit at night. Quite a unique and wonderful sight to see in La Paz harbor.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Beating the Heat

95 degree heat makes us softies from the Pacific Northwest quite sluggish and at times, even grouchy. When the only thing you can do effectively in the intense heat is to sweat profusely from every pore in your body, you tend to question your motive for voluntarily vacationing in an oven. When we sit down for any length of time and feel the sweat trickle down our backs and pooling in our shorts, there's always a moment of panic that others might bring to question our problem with perspiration or possibly incontinence.

To beat the heat we have been in full practice of the afternoon siestas and long rides in the dinghy at high speeds to create our own wind. One morning we ventured out to check a new development that is underway on a peninsula of land here in La Paz called the Mogote. Tremendous amounts of money are being thrown at this resort project which will include a hotel, condos, houses, a golf course and a marina. Due to the state of the world economy and judging by the skeleton crew working on the buildings, I believe they will be a touch behind schedule. We were amazed to find that they had already put in an amazingly green golf course which we can only imagine must demand a large chunk of resources just in its upkeep of watering and fertilizing in a desert environment.

We have also been receiving daily visits from the Marina Palmira resident goose named Lucy. Lucy became a permanent fixture around the marina following Hurricane Marty in 2003 after realizing her opportunistic luck with the bread and veggie rich cruising boat owners. She makes her rounds multiple times daily through the marina fairways, and has learned that loud and persistent honking outside of boats results in food. Lucy parks herself underneath boats and honks at the top of her lungs until food appears, and once she eats her snack, she quietly paddles off. Shawn unfortunately got caught by a "Lucy episode" while on Skype ordering boat parts. She's a hard one to talk over and an even harder one to explain.