La Cruz

Out sailing and spotting a Humpback Whale. This one wasn’t very dramatic, but we have seen a few skyhopping away on the horizon, too small to photograph, but with dramatic splashes when them come down. The visibility of the town in the background is about average. There’s a lot of haze.

There a a number of things we like about La Cruz. We spent about a month or so here last year and we’ll probably end up spending about a month here this year. The marina is a good place for boat projects. The Sunday Market is back in a new location, the fish market is still amazing, the vegan ice cream shop still has twofer Tuesdays and we’ve been able to pick up on Spanish language lessons with Ana.

Bill and Malu from Tribu MensWear. She makes and sells our favorite Mexican shirts. Bill is showing off his new one.

We’ve had a pretty mellow stay here. The schedule, such as it is pretty open. Sunday market. Tuesdays and Thursdays we go to Spanish classes. This year we’re sitting in on both the intermediate and the beginner and are slowly improving. Wednesdays we take Gypsy out into the anchorage do run the Amigo net. There are fewer masts out there to interfere with our radio signal propagation. Then we go sailing and run the water maker. On Thursdays we head out so Bill can be the net controller for the Sonrisa Ham net, and head back into the marina to get to Spanish class on time. The rest of the week is spent on boat projects, walking into town for groceries, doing laundry.

Life raft demonstration. Holding the tether is Mike from PV Sailing/North Sails.

Banderas Bay is a big jumping off spot for sailors heading to the South Pacific, Panama or Hawaii. Especially in January and February, there are free lectures and classes that Mike and his partner Cat coordinate or lead. The life raft demo was one of them. This was one of those sessions that had useful, practical info that we hope we never have to use.

Back in the Bay

One of the things we’ve found amusing and different in Mexico is food labeling. Usually there might be one or two of the black octagons up in the corner warning you about a particular food, but this one had four! We haven’t bought this variety pack, but it has everything bad for you in it: excess calories; excess sugar; excess saturated fats; and excess salt. Clearly attributes to avoid when provisioning.

The sail from Isla Isabel to Banderas Bay was slow. We had light winds, never above 10 knots, so we ended up motoring the last three or so hours of the trip. Even then, we arrived at the Punta Mita anchorage after dark. It became an exercise in anchoring by radar. The bay is surrounded by a glare of lights. Not all the anchored boats have their anchor lights on so they are difficult to impossible to see in the dark. We were tired from a long day of light wind sailing. We finally anchored safely and slept soundly.

The next morning we thought we’d head to shore to see what the town of Punta Mita is like. There isn’t really a good place to land a dinghy. The surf was breaking on the beach with bigger waves than we like to land in. We tried going into the panga basin, where the fishermen tie up, but it was full. On the way out of the narrow entrance, we hit a sequence of four to six foot breaking waves about six seconds apart. No backing out. The dinghy went through breaking surf just fine, but now that we know that, we aren’t anxious to try it again. Back to Gypsy to weigh anchor and head for the La Cruz anchorage. We hit town to load the phone, get some internet, and some fresh vegetables. We stayed for a couple of nights, took the dinghy apart and put it back on the foredeck and then meandered over to Paradise Village.

The marina at Paradise Village is in Nuevo Vallarta and is part of a huge resort complex complete with a mall, a hospital, more hotels and condos than can be easily counted, and live bengal tigers. It’s also the only marina in Banderas Bay that has potable water at the docks.

To get to the port captain’s office from the harbor master’s office you have to take a water taxi. It wasn’t working that morning so we put the dinghy back together. Since it was together, we took it up the estuary to see if we would see any cocodrilos. It was low tide and what we saw instead: lots of herons and iguanas, and a dredge that made us nostalgic for Rose City Yacht Club in Portland.

Paradise Village is nice, but it’s isolated in its own part of the bay. We rented a car one day to hit La Comer and Mega (grocery stores), Home Depot for peat moss for the composting toilet, and Costco. Bill discovered that driving in Mexico is still an adventure, and he had a conversation with a nice motorcycle cop about a signal that had gone red while he was in the intersection. Nina had just remarked that “you ran a red!” when he saw flashing lights. Thankfully, there was no mention of la grua, and he was able to pay his fine and get on our way.

Back to the big city. On the way to Puerto Vallarta to hit the big stores.

Birdland, Isla Isabel

Coming up to Isla Isabel. The big rocks on the right are called the Monas. We anchored to the left of the sailboat that is almost visible in the center of the island.

We almost skipped Isla Isabel this time. We estimated the passage time from Mazatlan to Isabel so that we’d arrive there just after daybreak. What we didn’t include in our time estimate was that winds near Mazatlan were getting us sailing speeds of around 7 knots for most of the afternoon rather than the 5 that we’d used to calculate the time. At the faster speed, we’d arrive at 3 am. The question became: do we continue on to Banderas Bay so we don’t have to anchor in the dark? Luckily, the wind decided to drop in the middle of the night and we ghosted up to Isabel at daylight. There was one other boat anchored on the east side of the island, Perspective, who we’d met in Pichelingue. Two more sailboats were anchored in the south anchorage off the fish camp. Our anchor down, we heard from Perspective on the radio. Were we up for a hike? Of course.

Isla Isabel is called the Galapagos of Mexico. The diving is excellent and often has ecotours staying at the old research station. There are iguanas endemic to the island. It’s also a protected habitat for blue footed boobies and magnificent frigate birds. When we were here last year, it was courtship season. This year, since we got here later, there were babies! We walked past nests right off the side of the path. The birds don’t get up as you go by, they just clack their beaks at you. At one point we saw a Blue Footed Booby courtship dance. It was very stately. The male would raise one blue foot and then the other, all while his tail feathers were erect. The female mostly ignored him and then would give him a nip. He kept up his dance, and then gave her a twig. We aren’t sure why, as their nests are a clean hollow in the dirt.

We hiked up to the top of the hill on the west side of the island. In the foreground on the left is the old research station with the fish camp on the beach. The trees by the research station are full of Frigate Bird nests. Most of the Blue Footed Booby nests were on the other side of the far hill. There were also booby nests at the top of the hill. The Monas are in the background. Birds are everywhere.

There are literally thousands of birds on Isabel. Frigate Birds build their nests in trees, Blue Footed Boobies on the ground in the dirt. The Booby nests are very clean and very exposed. Sometimes their nests are right under the Frigate Birds. The Frigates tend to leave the boobies alone until there is food, and then they turn into dive bombing bullies.

Bill snorkeled around the boat to check on the bottom. What he didn’t tell Nina was that he had the dinghy kill cord in his pocket. She saw something red float by and thought it was a hot sauce bottle or something. By the time Bill realized it was gone, it had been half an hour. We got in the dinghy and rowed in the general direction the red thing had drifted and managed to spot it with the binoculars. We got to it just before it floated into the rocks on shore. We can use the dinghy motor again! Lesson learned: if you see something, say something.

A Brown Pelican on one of the Monas.

We ended up spending about three days at Isabel, a truly amazing place.

Isla San Francisco

And you thought we were in sunny Mexico! Outside of San Evaristo on the way to Isla San Francisco.

Isla San Franciso is a beautiful, small island with a long sandy beach, and a spectacular ridge to walk along. While we were there, one of the large motor yachts had crew set up a couple of canopies, tables and chairs, and then brought in about a dozen people for the day. We contented ourselves with just kayaking over and walking on the beach before tackling the ridge.

Gypsy at anchor, Isla San Francisco.

We enjoyed a couple of days Isla San Francisco and then headed down toward Ensenada el Cardonal on Isla Partida. On the way we caught a nice black skipjack. The bottom at Cardonal was really grassy so even our 45 pound Mantus anchor wouldn’t grab. We tried a couple of times, but the anchor chain came up looking like a badly decorated Easter Basket. We had long, fine strands of grass everywhere. Off to El Cardoncito instead. Cardoncito is a small, V shaped cove that can maybe hold two boats at anchor. We dinghied over to the beach at the end and discovered that there’s a doable hike up into the island, but not in flip flops. Drifted along the canyon side on the way back to Gypsy and saw lots of fish: Panamic Sergeant Majors, half a dozen Guineafowl Puffers, a Balloon Fish and a bunch of Reef Cornet Fish. The latter look like undulous translucent ribbons in the water while they are moving. At rest they become lightly striped. That night the wind changed and blew out of the south, directly at us. It was a lumpy, hobby horse ride. Not much sleep. The wind was forecast for NE so we headed around the top of Isla Partida and headed over to Playa el Bonanza, on the south side of Isla Espiritu Santo. Pichelingue was the next quick stopover and then on to the Magote, the anchorage in La Paz. It was time to fix the water maker and have the engine looked at. However, the tidal flow at the end of January was a couple of meters, coupled with some high winds funneling down the channel. After a long, rough, wet dinghy ride to Gypsy, we headed back to Pichelingue for a couple of days until the wind died down. We scheduled a slip at Marina Palmira and went in to get work done.

Puerto Escondido to Isla San Francisco

We made it back to Loreto without any major mishaps. Planes were pretty empty. We managed to fly into and out of the same terminal in LAX, so our connection to Loreto was easy. Upon arriving in Loreto, we had a conversation with a nice official about our engine injectors, which we’d taken with us to Portland to have them serviced. Apparently, we should have updated our Temporary Import Permit before we left with them, but they would let us bring them in, just this once, with out the proper paperwork.

The next day we began the process of working on the boat in an exotic location. The injectors were reinstalled. White smoke out the exhaust. Not supposed to happen. And, something in the engine was making a new noise, and there was now a noticeable amount of water collecting in the engine bilge. The leak source turned out to be the raw water pump. Not the hose to the raw water pump, but the pump itself. We have some spare parts for it, but no spare pump. Luckily, Beethoven had a couple of old pumps and we cobbled a new one together with parts from his and from ours. The leak stopped.

On to the water maker. We unpickled it, flushed it and the solids reading was very high. We think we got some chlorinated water in our membrane sometime before we left, which basically fried it. We ran it for hours, ran two sets of cleaning chemicals through it and still got a high solids reading again. Time to go see the water maker guy in La Paz. While there, we’ll check out the diesel mechanic that friends recommended, and equalize our batteries (get them so they will fully charge more easily), and catch up on some needed provisioning.

Our week or so in Puerto Escondido was not all engine work, although we did take out and put in the raw water pump at least six times. We tried a CSA box and met some new folks. The veggies were beautiful, and the new friends introduced us to birria, little beef street tacos. Yum.

Nina got to experience a Mexican bank. Banks are used to pay rent, power bills, and other transactions, including paying for traffic tickets. You go online to find out how much you will have to pay, and then you go down to the bank and stand in line to get a number with an estimated wait time. There are rows of seats in the bank that are socially distanced, and you sit and wait for your number to show up on the monitor overhead. When it’s your turn, you hand over the official paper with the amount on it to the teller. If you want to pay with a credit card, only a Bancomer card will work, which of course we don’t have. She could have used her card to get cash from the ATM, but it was 3:00, the bank closes at 4:00 and the line to get back into the bank was down the block. The second try, with cash in hand, was successful. She is a free woman once again.

Northerlies were active while we were in Puerto Escondido. The wind blows from the north, with gusts into the mid 20 knots. Waves kick up, making a dinghy trip back to the boat a wet, bouncy experience, and Gypsy gyrates around her mooring ball as the wind ebbs and blows. After a few days of this, the wind,, thankfully, finally calmed. Goats roamed the hill behind us. A blue footed booby splashed down by the boat. We filled the water tanks with water from the tienda. We bought and hauled ten five gallon jugs of water out to Gypsy. Time to head south.

First stop, Agua Verde. When we were making our way down the west coast, in any conversations we’d have with boaters, we’d ask where their favorite cruising destinations in Mexico were. Agua Verde came up. Some day, when the engine and watermaker are working, and we’re fully provisioned up, we’ll actually spend more than a stopover night. It is a beautiful bay and we shared it with one other boat. And dolphins!

Punta San Telmo, is a small bay south of Agua Verde. There are a number of small bays you can tuck into when it’s calm. Winds out of the south were predicted, and San Telmo is a beautiful, safe place to anchor in when southerlies kick in. There is a nice sand beach and trails that can be hiked. The weather started socking in: totally gray skies, rain, fog, but not a lot of wind. It was like being in the Pacific Northwest!

The north side of San Evaristo was our next anchorage, since southerlies were still blowing. Rain and wind. We went ashore to see if we could walk over to San Evaristo, but were defeated by mud, and an inability to find a trail into town. We hauled up anchor and went by boat and anchored off the town. The boat, at least, was getting a good rinse off and the dust and salt were washed away. We spent a quiet day reading, knitting, and making brownies. In the middle of the night there, the wind kicked up in a new direction and we started rolling side to side. It was uncomfortable for a couple of hours, and then everything calmed down again. All accompanied by the bass line playing Mexican music from a speaker onshore.

Not much sand here. Beach rocks north of San Evaristo. The north side of San Evaristo is a good place to ride out southerlies. The beach has a big berm that protects the local salt works.
Brown Booby. It circled us a couple of times, and flew off.

Isla San Francisco is another place that gets mentioned as a favorite place to go. There’s a nice anchorage on the south side. Last year when we did an overnight there, we were one of about twenty-five boats, mostly sailboats. This year, the number of boats in any anchorage is much smaller. There are very few Canadians, as they can’t drive down because the Canadian border is closed into the US. When we got here, there were six other boats here: one other sailboat, five big catamarans. By the next afternoon, we were the only sailboat left. The seven other boats were all big motor yachts, at least 50+ feet in length. Some boats have Americans, but the rest have Mexicans aboard. It felt like a small version of Roche Harbor.

Finally, a dorato on our way to San Juanico

It’s a dorado! Someday we will learn to take better fish pictures… For a sporty fish, they have surprisingly soft flesh, and are very good eating.

We motored most of the way up to Isla Coronados with Beethoven. No wind, but the fishing was good! We caught a fish on one of the lures our friend Chris recommended, a beautiful 2 foot dorado. Bill filleted it and we gave one of the fillets and the head to Beethoven, so they could make fish stew. They gave us a lovely piece of bonito they’d caught. We had better luck than Free Luff, who’d heard me on the radio asking Beethoven the ‘what do I do with it now’ question. Free Luff caught a passing motor boat, and almost lost all their line before it broke.

The water at Coronados was pretty clear, so Bill took a look at the bottom of the boat to see what sorts of creatures were attaching themselves to it. The bottom was still clean from its fresh coat of paint, but the knot meter’s little propeller was very crunchy with tiny, long worm casings. No wonder it stopped working again! We pulled the unit from inside the boat. Yes, that did create a mini geyser when we took it out but we plugged the hole while we cleaned out the calcified guck with a repurposed pallet knife. We reversed the process, put the knot meter unit back in place and bailed out the gallon or so of water in the bilge. If you’re fast with the plug, not much water gets in. We didn’t have enough hands to take pictures in the moment, so you’ll have to imagine what that the process looked like.

Hike in the afternoon with Beethoven on the south side of Coronados. Tried a different trail back from the beach and realized it wasn’t going to get us back to where we’d left our kayaks and SUPs. Had to do a quick backtrack before the sun went down, but we did make it back to our boats by the time the sun went down with a beautiful sunset. Bonito for dinner.

San Juanico was our next stop. Isla Coronados is about 20 miles north of Puerto Escondido and San Juanico another 18-20 miles north of Coronados. San Juanico has an island studded bay and is popular with campers as well as boaters. It was cloudy most of the time we were there, but it didn’t rain, so no help to wash the salt off the boat. We went for a walk with John and visited the small farm up the road from the bay. Fresh produce and eggs! Clambering over rocks with a dozen eggs tied up in a paper egg crate with baling twine is an interesting experience, but we all survived.

There was a norther forecast so we headed back to Puerto Escondido. We had a spinnaker sail back to Coronados but had to motor from there to PE. Back on the mooring ball, we put the dinghy together and headed in for showers. Having a cold water boat with no shower, we make an effort to get nice hot showers. On the way in, the dinghy was making a funny noise. It wasn’t the outboard. And then we discovered that we were taking on a LOT of water! When we put the dinghy together, we somehow didn’t get the lower through hulls tightened and they were letting water into the dinghy. Headed back to Gypsy for tools, tightened everything up, and got the leaking stopped. Back in again for showers.

And then came the 13th. Generally, we aren’t superstitious beyond a generic things happen in threes, so we thought we were mostly covered. Our new first bit of bad luck/news: Bill found out that his 94 year-old father had fallen and broken his leg. Since the norther was still blowing like stink, we decided to head into town. We got distracted driving out of the marina and drove into the gate. That was number two. We dinghied back to Gypsy in the wind and waves with an extra passenger who needed a ride back to his boat. Pretty soaked by the time we got back to Gypsy. Bill discovered that the water filter he was soaking over the side of the boat had come untied and the rope had wrapped itself around either the propeller or rudder and was not coming loose. Waves were now a frequent 3-4 feet as the wind had kicked up more. From the dinghy, Bill finally got the rope loosened without being pitched into the drink or bashed into the boat. Time to dry out, get warm: time for quesadillas. Bill cracked a tooth on one. It had been twingy, but it was done in by a tortilla. So a second on the trip out; the third was the tooth. Fourth or fifth(?): because we were heading back to Portland in a couple of days, we pickled the watermaker because we wouldn’t be able to run it everyday while we are gone. It had been having issues with high TDS, or total dissolved solids aka salt, in the product water and it was easier to pickle it than try to troubleshoot it one more time before we left. We then discovered the forward water tank is empty. We’d clearly been using more water than we thought. Time to buy some water. In talking with friends, they too, had quite the day on the 13th!

We got Gypsy buttoned up so we could head back to the States for the holidays. Dharma Girl gave us a ride in and we got on our way. But luck of the 13th continued. Nina got to have a conversation with a couple of nice Guardia Nacionals outside of Guerrero Negro. They explained that the speed limit is in kilometers per hour, not miles. We decided to take Mexico 5 back and blew a tire outside of San Filipe. It was a long 50mph trip to San Diego on the spare. It gave us plenty of time to try to find a tire, when we had phone bars. Next time we drive, we are strapping an extra real tire to the top of the car!

The border crossing into Mexicali took a couple of hours of waiting in line after we finally found it, due to road construction and interesting signage. We got through in one go this time. And then Bill got a call from his sister that his father had passed. We found a new tire at a dealer in San Diego. We could buy the tire there but would have to find a tire shop to install it as their service department was closed because of a Covid contraction. Got all that behind us and made it safely to Portland, where Bill got a colonoscopy and a tooth pulled. A quick trip to Minneapolis for his father’s service and then we head back to Gypsy.

We hope your holidays were safe, warm, and filled with love. Buen año nuevo – it can only get better!

Ballandra to San Javier

Isla Carmen is the biggest island just outside of Puerto Escondido. At 13 miles long, it has a number of small bays and coves that you can tuck into depending on the wind. At the north end on the west side of the island is a little cove called Puerta Ballandra. On the way, we had a nice sail but no luck fishing. We buddy boated up with Beethoven and Dharma Girl and invited them over for happy hour once we were all anchored. The local bees also invited themselves and made themselves at home with whatever water they could find. We were surprised to see bees in an environment that is pretty harsh, but they are out and about in places that you wouldn’t expect them and always looking for fresh water. Another resident of Carmen is big horn sheep. The whole island is a reserve with a hunting lodge on the other side by Salinas. We didn’t see any sheep while hiking, but while we were on shore, we saw evidence they were there.

One of our morning rituals is listening to the nets on the SSB radio (short wave). From them you can find out where boats are, what the weather is like in different parts of the Sea of Cortez and sometimes even get some news. Nina began volunteering as a net controller on the Amigo net, with Bill as the weather guy. Bill, because he has a General Ham license, is a net controller on Sonrisa, a Ham net. The net survived our debuts and we now each have a weekly gig. Boats check in from wherever they are, you can hear from old friends, and you get the weather forecast. It’s a lean season this year because of Covid, so check-ins average six to maybe 10 boats, spread out from San Carlos and Tenacatita on the mainland to up and down the inside of Baja. It’s always fun to finally meet someone you’ve talked on the net.

Since the fishing was unsuccessful on the way up to Ballandra, we went out with John in the morning. Still no luck. But we did see three big horns in the hills. John went out later and caught a nice cabrillo. Fish tacos on the beach that evening. Yum. Dolphins swimming around the boat the next morning.

Dolphins frolicking beside us. Always a welcome and happy sight.

Next stop is Isla Coronados, north of Carmen. It’s an extinct volcano and has beaches and trails. Beethoven headed back to Puerto Escondido and Gypsy and Dharma Girl headed for Coronados. We walked on the beach and tried out one of the trails. There was a norther forecast so we headed back to Puerto Escondido, where the mooring field is a safe place to wait out strong winds from the north. On the way back, fishing success! Nina caught a Sierra Mackerel. From it we got a couple of nice fillets.

A nice Sierra Mackerel. A beautiful and tasty fish. The white line in the lower left is Nina’s hand line. It was put together by our friend Carl in Portland. We’d asked him for a list of fishing gear we should get and he gave us a great starter kit instead. It all wraps up around a piece of PVC pipe, so it’s nice and compact when not trailing behind Gypsy.

Back in Puerto Escondido, the northers started to kick in about 4:00 am the next morning, gusting to about 15 knots. Not bad, but if we wanted to head in, it meant a slow, wet ride into the marina. We could stay in the boat and swing around the mooring ball all day or head into Loreto for errands. We opted for Loreto, and we and Chris headed into town. Groceries, FerraMar for lures, and the tortilleria. We all got what we needed and dinghied back in the white caps. Gusts that evening in the 20s.

Cabin bound, Bill made a shelf for the gas cans. Nina then lashed to the Monitor, our wind vane since we were unable to find any kind of U-bolts in Loreto. We got the shelf idea from Tappan Zee and were happy to find a way to get the gas cans out from underfoot in the cockpit.

Next trip in for groceries, we noticed piloncillo on sale. It looked interesting so we thought we’d try some. It’s the rawest form of cane sugar pressed into cone shaped molds. It tastes like brown sugar with molasses and a hint of an orange flavor. Turns out, you have to grate it in order to use it, but it is really good in chocolate cake, and we can’t wait to try in in gingerbread.

Bill attempting to cut up a cone of piloncillo. We learned you need to grate it.

Punta Colorada and the south east side of Isla Carmen was our next stop with our boating buddies. This time, the surf was calm. We all went in for a hike. The adventurous ones went up to the ridge, and a couple of us went about halfway and then stopped on took in the amazing landscape. Back at the beach we found hermit crabs.

Beethoven and Gypsy tried to head up to Salinas, on the upper northeast side of Carmen. Waves and wind got crazy so we headed back to Colorada. Of course when it was crazy, we hooked a fish. Landed about an 18” bonito, but we had no way to keep it until things calmed down, so we released it. The others came back to join us in Colorada. John caught a couple of fish and we traded cake for fish.

Wild ride back to Puerto Escondido. Nina got totally soaked putting in the third reef. And did not catch any fish.

Time for a land trip. On the way to Loreto is the turnoff for San Javier, the site of the second Jesuit mission in Baja. Beethoven mentioned they were interested in heading up there so we made it a group expedition for the next day. But first they taught us how to play pickle ball. Quite fun, even on a windy day.

San Javier is 34 km from the highway, on a twisty, hilly, paved road. It seems like it’s the middle of nowhere, but there is water there, and the landscape, while rocky, can grow crops. There had been a pilgrimage to the church on December 2 that had around 3,000 people come. We passed walkers and bicyclists on the way up, still making their own kinds of pilgrimages. Outside the church was a man selling locally made products: a red wine, cajeta, and some fruit jelly or paste. We went for the cajeta, a thick syrup made of caramelized goat milk. It’s probably sacrilege, but it’s really good on pancakes.

Holiday season in a Loreto restaurant. Santa and skulls. Happy Holidays!

Around Puerto Escondido

The welcome to your mooring ball bird. It announced its arrival with a loud gwawk.

We’ve settled into life on a mooring ball, one of maybe thirty or so boats out in the bay. Of those, maybe two thirds have people aboard. The hurricane season officially ends November 30 and folks are starting to return to their boats or stopping in while sailing south. Puerto Escondido is a good place to run into old friends and make new ones. Everyone masks up, hand sanitizer is outside every store and office and we all practice social distancing. The tienda in PE is well stocked, and the restaurant is open evenings. Having the car means we can head to Loreto for a broader range of provisions and rambling.

Loreto, founded by the Jesuits in 1697, was the capitol of Baja California Sur until 1777. We visited the main church in Loreto. It was founded in 1697 by Fr. Salvatierra. We went to the museum next door which has an interesting mix of religious art and mission artifacts. Most of the paintings were of saints or the founders of religious orders, all done by anonymous artists. There were statues of the Virgin Mary, with very white skin, and other religious statuary that must have been imported and carried up to the mission back in the day. The info placards infer that life was hard. It took a number of years for the Spaniards to adopt/adapt to the local way of life in the event that no ships came in with supplies. There was very little info about the indigenous population before or after the Spanish arrival. The reason behind the missions was to convert the natives. Any revenue generated by padres was to go back to the Spanish crown. The Jesuits, an evangelizing order, began making wine, and not all the profits made it back to Spain. They were expelled by the crown and replaced by the Dominicans and Franciscans, who continued building missions on Baja and up into mid-California.

Esther, owner of Snacks22, our new favorite place to eat in Loreto. Think Mexican tapas, small plates, and really tasty food. Everything on the menu costs 22 pesos. It was recommended to us by Maritza, who works in the marina office in Puerto Escondido. If you’re ever in Loreto, try it out.
A highway construction project. Just outside of Loreto, the hillside is slowly being taken out to widen the road to 2 lanes each way. The highway was closed for 3 hours one day for blasting. The bypass is a gravel section. Some days there are flaggers and others you’re on your own.

Loreto is about 25 kilometers up the road from Puerto Escondido. It has a couple of bigger grocery stores, a marine/fishing store, tortillerias and small aborrotes that we have been exploring and shopping at. We’ve learned to avoid shopping around holidays – like Día de los Muertos – especially if they are on weekends. Parking at the bigger grocery stores is tight at best and just crazy around holidays. And you learn to avoid the guy who’d like to wash your car with a dry rag while you shop for 100 pesos. Fresh vegetables are basic but abundant. Canned goods are limited in selection and we are now on a to find diced tomatoes. Tomato sauce, paste, salsa, but no straight up diced. We did end up getting a couple of cans from Chris, off Dharma Girl, who did a Costco run when he drove down to Cabo to see his brother who had been crewing on one of the Nada HaHa boats. He ended up getting them at WalMart.

Back on the boat, Bill has become a net controller on the Sonrisa net, a ham net for sailors. He started out as a sub but will have a short but regular gig in December to fill in for folks heading north for the holidays. Nina will get to try her hand as a net controller on the Amigo net, another net for sailors that does not require a ham general license to participate.

We finally finished enough projects that it was time for a quick trip out of the mooring field. Puerto Escondido has a number of islands on its doorstep that have some good spots to anchor. We headed for Bahia Marquer on Isla Carmen for an overnighter. And saw a whale on the way! Lovely anchorage. The wind was forecast to change to the north, so we thought we’d try Bahia Colorada on the east side of the island. On the way, Nina caught a nice 2′ dorado that was beautiful. It decided that it wanted to stay that way, so just before we got it to the boat, it shook itself loose. Colorada was beautiful, but between the wind and swell, it was really rolly. The south wind was still blowing and the swells were big enough to be really uncomfortable at anchor. Back to PE we went. Nice calm anchorage, and more projects.

Just outside of PE is Tripui, a small village that has a hotel and an RV park. We hadn’t realized the town part was there until we did a couple of day hikes with Dharma Girl and Beethoven up the hills to the east of it. There’s a small network of trails and we did a couple of different ones. The big hike, challenging and beautiful, is up Tabor Canyon, also called Steinbeck Canyon. As we got about as far as we could, there was a huge boulder blocking the way, a group of five or six Mexican women came up. They were all young and clambered up the boulder and went on. We watched them and headed back. On the way, Nina misjudged coming down a rock and twisted her ankle. She made it slowly back to the water treatment building at the trail head. Beethoven had gone ahead and got their truck, a bag of ice and an electrolyte drink. Heroes forever! Next day, a purple and swelled up foot. Everyone else went up the canyon a couple of days later with Javier, the harbor master, and the crew from El Rey, one of the big motor yachts. They made it farther up without major mishap, other than Bill banging his head on a rock. We will both survive.

For calmer adventures, we got to watch the International Space Station fly overhead one evening. Another night we were visited by dolphins swimming around the boat. Apparently the anchovies are running and they were on the hunt in the wee hours. They are noisy and sound like gasping snorkelers.

More projects done, and we’re off to Ballandra with Dharma Girl and Beethoven.

And ending with a sunset from the mooring field.

Boat Projects

Last year while we lived and sailed aboard Gypsy we found out what worked and what needed improving. Much of our car load of stuff was new gear for Gypsy. We now have two inflatable kayaks to go exploring in. They should be much easier to get into if we paddle out to a snorkeling spot. The hard dinghy does not work well for snorkeling. We also installed our new replacement anchor, a 45 pound Mantus. The 35 pounder went back into the locker. Several lines (ropes) on Gypsy that were getting old and worn got replaced. We have a new main sheet, main sail traveler control lines, spinnaker halyard, topping lift and the mainsail first reef line. I think we have figured out why the reef line was chafing. It was rubbing on the bolts sticking up through the boom bottom that hold the main sheet blocks. The reef line is now routed away from the bolt ends.

Gypsy has a rigid boom vang. Its job is to hold the boom up and supply main sail control. Our vang was doing a very poor job of holding the boom up. We discovered we needed a new spring, which is now installed and the boom stays up much better.

Dividers for glasses and bowls

We don’t like the sound of clinking dishes. Last year we stuffed pot holders and dish rags between glasses everytime we went out for a sail. This summer we made dividers. They ended up modular for flexibility. Nina also made dividers for the spice drawer.

Spice drawer. Of the three or so types of spice bottles only the small square bottles fit. That’s what happens when you make something 1,800 miles away from the stuff you need to check it against.

Bill made a teak swim ladder before we left Portland in 2019. It was a good idea that did not work well in practice. Gypsy now has two stainless steel ladders. One is a folding swim ladder and the other is a short boarding ladder. They mount to the toe rail with fast pins and can be switched from side to side. Gypsy has wide boarding gates, so the ladders don’t have to get lowered to use the gate.

We also made new tools to assemble our dinghy. The marlon (plastic) thru-hulls we use to bolt the dinghy halves together sometimes need more than fingers. Last year they got stuck a couple of times and our plastic and wood tools didn’t fare well. Bill made aluminum tools this summer at Becker Enterprises and had them anodized.

New aluminum dinghy tools and the old wood and plastic tools.

We have a couple more projects to do yet. Making a shade cover and modifying the main sail cover are the last of the big projects. Being a boat, however, means that there will always be something that needs to be done.