Monday, April 23, 2012

Mazatlán to La Paz – April 4 – 10

At 08.20 on April 4, we departed Muelle B2 at El Cid Marina with our dignity intact, assisted by Captain George of Shamrock and Tom of Kewao.  And of course there were several others standing on the dock, providing moral support -- or perhaps just watching to see if we'd do anything "exciting".  We left from a very awkward slip with little turning room, scaring the pants off all our neighbor boats in the process.  But we didn’t hit anything, and off we went!   

The Crossing.  Our trip across the Gulf of California was very pleasant.  We were able to sail about half of the time.  The winds were up during the day and we motored at night when the wind dropped below a consistent five knots.  Our nights were extremely uneventful.  While on watch we were kept awake by the reassuring hum of our old Westerbeke diesel engine, and the stars.  We saw the ferries to and from La Paz, and a few other sailboats – but there was very little traffic over all.  Our days were spent sailing in gentle winds and trading off nap time.  Life is lived much more on a 24-hour cycle while underway.

Bahia de Los Muertos.  We arrived at Bahia de Los Muertos on the 6th, and set anchor at 1600.  It became immediately clear that Bahia de Los Muertos was ground zero for Semana Santa camping activities.  There were family camps strung all along the beach – some with elaborate dining tents and sleeping tents, and others with simple sun screens. 

And because this is Mexico, and in Mexico there is always music, two of these campsites came equipped with DJ’s that provided nighttime entertainment.  Competing DJ’s.  Not only were these DJ’s not coordinating their music - one was operating a karaoke system and a (we’re sure charming) young girl fancied herself a chanteuse, or her mother did.  It was enough to make one long for a visit by Simon Cowell (isn’t that the mean guy from American Idol?)!  

Amusingly, Bahia de Los Muertos (Bay of the Dead) as the bay is called on nautical charts seems to be in the process of being renamed by real estate developers.  On most of the signs in the area it is now referred to as Bahia de Los Sueňos (Bay of Dreams).  Not surprising, we guess.  It’s probably hard to sell a home looking out on the Bay of the Dead.  The renaming doesn’t seem to have spurred development tremendously – but we’re sure the condos will come. 

We took a couple of walks on the beach of the lovely bay, wondering what it would be like on the usual low-key week and what it would be like once the real estate developers were satisfied with it. We watched the Semana Santa activities: kids and dogs playing in the surf; food preparation; families chatting in the shade, watching the kids and dogs playing in the surf.  And Bryce engaged in his favorite beach activity -- searching for a cellphone (and thus wifi) connection:

We ate at the one local restaurant - Restaurant 1535 (a year we're not really familiar with?) a couple of times. 

On Easter Sunday, the campers began loading up, and by the evening most were gone – blessedly taking both DJ’s with them.  That night, we slept like los muertos.  In the future we will time our visit to Los Muertos for a week other than Semana Santa.  It’s really fun to watch the family activities, but until there is some sort of coordination on music systems, and an agreement to ban child star wannabes from overtaking the karaoke system, we expect that the charm of the bay will continue to be overshadowed during Semana Santa. 
Playa Pichilingue.  Just as we were beginning to really like Bahia de Los Muertos (and get some sleep!) it was time to leave in order to be in La Paz in time to meet our next guest, Jim Thompson, a sailing friend from Toronto.  Because we weren’t quite ready for a marina, we just edged up the Baja coast to Playa Pichilingue.  We weighed anchor at 0700 on the 9th, and were tortured by two and three knot winds the whole 48 miles from Bahia de Los Muertos.  There was one brief moment of eight knots where we thought we might be able to sail – but before we even got the spinnaker up the wind had dropped back to three knots again.  48 miles of motoring -- think of driving by some ery lovely scenery - at 5 miles per hour.   

So, we arrived at Playa Pichilingue with our bums somewhat rattled by the massage created by the humm of the motor.  We set anchor, showered, had a drink, and made dinner.  Just as we were completing dinner and had turned from grousing about our day of motoring to thinking that – wink, wink, nod, nod -- it had cooled off enough for some snuggling, the boat began to rock.  And roll.  And the winds began gusting to 22 knots.  It was the start of a dreaded Coromuel wind – a south or southwest wind that develops in the southern Baja peninsula due to temperature and pressure differentials between Pacific and Sea of Cortez waters.

So we tossed a coin (metaphorically speaking) and Bryce took the first anchor watch -- sitting up in the cockpit to watch that the anchor position was not changing as a result of the anchor loosing it's grip.  We alternated taking watch, wrapped in a sleeping bag, two hours off, two on, all night -- so much for winking and nodding. 

As the sun rose, Molly realized that what we had thought was the shell of an abandoned panga (a fiberglass fishing boat) . . . was actually the remains of the bow third of a sailboat that had apparently run aground on the very shore we were anchored off. 

Realizing that somewhere out there a sailor (or at least his or her insurance company) is really, really sorry he or she didn't keep a good enough lookout for a dragging anchor made our decision to keep an all-night watch to assure that Abracadabra remained solidly anchored seem very prudent.  But it didn’t make us any the less sleepy, or feel any less cheated over the fact that we’d had no wind all day, and way too much wind all night.

Costa Baja Resort and Marina.  We motored out of Playa Palinchinque at around 10.00, and arrived at Costa Baja two hours later.  There was enough wind to sail, but for once we had little inclination.  We just wanted to get to a dock so we could sleep.  After checking in we walked the grounds of the pretty marina, dropped off laundry, shared a good salad and thin-crust pizza, and went back to the boat to get some real sleep! 

The next day, we prepared for the arrival of our friend and trusty crew mate Jim Thompson from Toronto, Ontario, Canada.  Our next blog posting will be about our travels on Abracadabra with Jim among the islands in the Gulf of California. 

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