Adventures in Bajaland

I promised I would share some photos and stories about our trip down Baja to La Paz and I’m a woman of my word. Here are some highlights, culminating in our second Christmas in Mexico! The photos are viewable as usual on Picasa, click the photo on the right to see them.

Velella Velella’s Hops and Stops down Baja:

1. Guaymas, mainland side to Santa Rosalia, Baja side

Goodbye Guaymas! We were ecstatic to be back in the water, but sad to leave our boatyard buddies. We departed midday for an 18 hour overnight passage, 20-25 knots of wind on the nose the whole darn time so sadly, no sailing, only bashing around in corkscrew swells until we reached the little harbor of Santa Rosalia at dawn. Rob took the helm in the lumpy stuff (thank you!!) and I took the helm for the pre-dawn town approach, zigzagging around shrimpers and tug and tows in the dark. Santa Rosalia is a sweet little town, we loved all the colorful wood buildings (unusual, usually everything’s concrete) and the friendly folks we met at the rustic marina. We anchored out for three nights, letting a heavy Northerly pass through. Then, up anchor and away! With our buddy boat, Mwelu by our side.

2. Santa Rosalia to Coyote Bay in Bahia Conception

This was the little stint I wrote about where we tried to go to San Juanico with Mwelu but got tired of the short stacked waves dunking our stern and bow and then our poor bedding through our wily forward hatch. So we hung a right into the peaceful calm of Conception and were stoked to get to check it out. A few other sailboats were around, including the NOLS drascomb fleet, but mostly we met “land cruisers” in RVs and campers. Really friendly people, about 5 separate folks kayaked or standup paddle boarded over to say hi and check out our boat. We ended up knowing people in common with all of them! (Note: We’ve filled up our water tanks and tanked down our previously empty aft fuel tank so that should help us stop hobby horsing, which led to the soaked bedding and pooped stern.)

3. Coyote to Santispac, with a sidetrip to Mulege!
This was super fun! We went to a bay closer to the mouth of Conception because we needed some fuel. There was no fuel dock so we rowed to shore with our four diesel jerry jugs and stuck out our thumbs. A really nice couple originally from the States but now living full time in Baja picked us up and drove us to Mulege. They even invited us out to dinner with some of their other land cruiser friends and drove us back to our dinghy afterwards. Hooray for kind, wonderful people!

4. Santispac in Bahia Conception to Isla Coronado

The weather sounded good for a passage to San Juanico and we made such good time we passed it by and headed on to the pretty island of Coronado. There we reconnected with Mwelu and Rob took his first plunge into the ocean. Not as warm as Banderas Bay yet! South we go.

5. Isla Coronado to Agua Verde

My favorite anchorage! If you look at our pictures, this is the gorgeous turquoise bay with pongas (local fishing boats) and sand stone formations and green mountains all around and goats lounging under palm trees. Everyone tells us Baja is much more green than usual due to the fall hurricanes bringing even more rain than usual. We love greenery, as crazy Northwesterners, so it is a treat.

6. Agua Verde to San Evaristo

Bustled down in a rollicking sail/race – anytime we’re sailing with one or more boats it turns into a race. Mwelu and our B.C. friends on a junk rig named Bella Via were headed to the same place so we all tweaked our sails, stepped lively and tried to pass each other. The junk won, of course, it was a beam to broad reach, so the winds were almost behind us which is what junks love. In San Evaristo we barely got the anchor down before a 40 plus knot Northerly blasted us for 24 hours. (Knots to miles means it blew almost 50 miles per hour!) We rocked and rolled and lurched and heeled and swung all over the place but didn’t drag anchor like some other boats so we were happy about that. Not the most relaxing sleeping conditions, Rob got up every hour to check our position and the anchor. We were happy when the winds finally laid down.

7. San Evaristo to Caleta Partida, on the incredible Isla Espiritu Santo

So gorgeous! This one might even top Agua Verde because we got to go on an epic 6 hour hike up an arroyo/dry waterfall bed to the tippy top of the island. It was way more exercise than we’d had in a month and felt great. We scaled incredible red rocks, past lots of wild “sinisterly beautiful” pokey spiny plants – I’m such a desert novice, these were my first up close cacti! We felt like real mountain climbing, Baja desert folks. I channeled all my NOLS/Outward Bound guide friends, who fear no sunburns or scorpions. It was a very special experience, especially since I’ve always heard about this island from my mom kayaking around it when I was a kid. It lived up to her tales of stark beauty.

8. Isla Espiritu Santo to La Paz

Last leg and we made it right in time for Christmas! Hooray! We made the slow trek the day before Christmas Eve through the long entrance to La Paz harbor and dropped anchor near town after discovering all the marinas were full. (No room in the inn, out to the manger as Mwelu said.) We’d anchored the whole way down Baja and were in need of a night or two in a slip to wash off the salt, charge up our batteries, provision and give the boat a good clean up. (I have never claimed to be very “domestic” but vacuuming VV is one of my most satisfying chores- it feels so good to get our home fresh and clean again!) Luckily, Marina de La Paz was able to squeeze us in Christmas morning so we’ve been able to accomplish all our pit stop goals. Best of all, we reconnected with some cruising friends and met some new friends whom we hope to cross paths with in the future. La Paz had been good to us, we soaked up the Christmas spirit, enjoyed the cruiser potluck and dinners with friends, and happily skyped with family on Christmas Day. We miss everyone back home but feel grateful for all our blessings.

Right now, I’m observing the action around the marina- diners at the restaurant nearby speaking English and Spanish, workers carrying new beams for the dinghy dock, cruisers carting fuel cans to the Pemex gas station (cheaper than the fuel dock), paddle boarders and kayakers socializing from slip to slip. The sun is out and people seem to be in that post-holiday laze. Within the hour, we will cast off our lines and leave marina civilization behind. It’s time to start working our way around to the East Cape of Baja, to set ourselves up around Frailes Bay where we will wait for a good weather window to make the 2.5 day crossing to the mainland. We miss our tropical home in Banderas Bay! And we’re excited to go farther south, to Chamela and Barra de Navidad. So, muchas gracias Baja! We will enjoy these last few days on your shores and then next week, off to the palm trees and surf!

Lots of love, we miss you all, don’t be afraid to drop us an email and tell us what you’re up to! velellavelella [at] gmail.com

xoxoLove, Kai and Rob

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Feliz Navidad from La Paz

Hola hola! Merry Christmas everyone. Hope you are gathered with loved ones around a roaring fire or a cheerful palm tree. We made it to La Paz! We’re anchored out tonight, hope santa can find us, and tomorrow we’ll head to a slip to enjoy the modern conveniences like shore power and real showers. It’s fun to be in a bustling town for the holidays. We are on our way to a cruiser holiday potluck and spent the afternoon exploring the outdoor bazaar where locals rushed around getting last minute gifts. Very festive and fun.

Sending lots of holiday love and cheer to all! More photos and stories coming soon. Baja says hello!

Love, us

Baajaa, Lighten Up Already

Yes, we successfully launched and bidfarewell to our yard buddies in Guaymas. Yes, we made it across the Sea of Cortez in a choppy 18 hour overnight passage with our buddy on Mwelu. Yes, we waited out a blow in the cool funky town of Santa Rosalia and then made a run for Caleta San Juanico on Wednesday. No, we did not sail, the wind has been impeccable in its dedication to being on our nose for each passage so we have yet to raise the sails! No, we did not mind too much since our Volvo Penta is a rockstar and running like a dream and we have the rest of winter to sail. Finally no, we did not make it to San Juanico yet, we had to duck into Bahia Conception, near Mulege where I am writing this, due to a tall choppy close together swell that sent green water over our bow and then dunked our stern. Pooped! Now we have dunked Velella via bow, stern and starboard side (the knockdown last year off Cape Mendocino). We aim to keep the portside dry and stop this dunking nonsense, we have had enough of drying out our bedding. (Our forward hatch hook came undone in the lumpy seas and allowed a few gallons of water aboard, right onto our bed!)

However, yes, we are still elated to be back cruising and we love our dear boat. We have been cooking delicious meals and meeting nice landcruiser people. The scenery is wild, Bahia Coyote, where we stayed last night, was gorgeous. Now that we are all dried out, we will head back out of Conception and towards San Juanico. It seems like these flukey Southerlies are going to abate and we will have the more typical Northerlies again, so we can sail! That is the point of having a sailboat, right?

Hope you are all staying more dry than we are!
Lots of love from Mulege, Kai and Rob

Splash

Just a quick note to let you know we are BACK in the WATER. Hooray! We splashed with no problem Wednesday evening, got the motor running and checked the thru holes – no leaks. Looking good! We’re anchored in front of the Guaymas malecon right now and just about to head out across the Sea to Baja, first port Santa Rosalia. Yippee! We’ll be buddy boating with our friend on Mwelu as we work our way south to La Paz. We’ll share some desert island stories the next time we find internet. For now, we’re sailors once more!

xoxoKai and Rob