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Seasons are starting to change down here, and there are less 'Nortes' to deal with. Temps are also starting to rise again (90+ yesterday). Took a short 3 day cruise to some of the local islands near Puerto Escondido and camped out on their beaches.One great thing about desert beach camping is the lack of bugs. We also timed the cruise so tides weren't too extreme either. First day was a short run over to Isla Carmen and a spot called 'Bahia Marquer". Wide open beach that gave us protection from the SE winds that day, but not a lot of shade to keep the Sun off of us (next cruise will include a foldable 'cabana' style shelter....). Second day we spent all of our time trying to beat against wind/tide through the pass between Isla Carmen and Isla Danzante. 7 miles in 7 hours in 90 degrees.... By the time we made it through and found the second camp site we were whupped. BUT the second camp site was pretty spectacular! Too small for larger boats, but protected from winds in 3 directions with large over hanging cliffs/caves for protection. As you can see from the attached pix having a small, beachable boat opens up big territory. We would anchor fore/aft in a way we could adjust our distance off the beach in case of weather, and in the worst case scenario we could still swim out to the boat and haul ourselves beyond the surf line. A Bruce anchor worked well on the bow, while a Danforth type was perfect as the beach anchor as it really dug deeply into the sand. Bottoms here can be rocky but if you make an exploratory pass before anchoring you can usually spot sandy patches as the water is SO clear. At night we could hear dolphin swimming off the beach, and near dusk we could see the "blows" from Finback whales running through the channel. But we missed the Blue whale by a few weeks. Since the ONLY way to get out to these locations is by boat, and it IS a national marine park there wasn't the usual tourist trash. Instead we'd find skeletons of prior sea life occupants. last day of the cruise we finally got to run downwind for hours on end, but as we neared the marina the wind shifted again, and the 10 knot breezes went to over 20 in a heart beat. We just pinched along until we got under the lee of the headland and then got the sails down to motor into the marina. Looooong political story but ALL of us who were moored outside the marina were 'evicted' last month as the marina decided it wanted to "expand", so we were all given 3 months of free mooring inside the marina. Next season I will probably be trailer sailing Petunia down here which will open up my range tremendously.... Gonna leave her down here for the Summer while I drive North to Mendocino and finish off 'Rancho Palumbo'. Then I have to fly back East load up a U haul with the rest of my tools/gear and drive it back West. Rented a house down here for next year which will allow me to work on Petunia a little and do some maintenance work she is deserving of...
Petunia and I decided to spend more time in Baja, MX this year so I found a big old funky house where I will be able to catch up on some over due maintenance and hardware changes. Since she is now sitting on her trailer next to my casa instead of her mooring, I don't have to worry about running down to the marina (19 miles) daily to check on her. And we have a fairly functional; ramp only half a mile from the new place. This has given me a chance to scout out some new areas for sailing as there are now a few people with various small sail boats interested in 'going someplace' as a convoy. One of the people who kept trying to get me down here has been running kayak/bike/mule trips in Baja for 35 years . SO when she asked if I wanted to jump in on a group riding mules down the Southern Baja coast I gladly joined in. My lack of time on a mule was a little disconcerting as the last few trips I did showed me that after riding a mule for a day I was able to feel pain in places I didn't even know I had the day before...BUT I figured that we should be able to get into some places unreachable by land other wise so I asked Trudi to show me some of her favorite secluded beaches that she had been taking her kayakers for the last 35 years, and she did. And I'm glad as I learned a lot. We spent a few days running down the coast South of Agua Verde, Baja. 8 riders/mules, 3 pack donkeys, 1 dog, 1 puppy..Donkeys carried enough supplies/water to get us a few days down the coast. Then I processed a bunch using my Steripen from some mountain streams Trudi knew about. Otherwise you couldn't even consider being back in there as water IS life. Desert ranchers we met were hand digging their SECOND 28 meter deep water well as the first one they dug dried up after last Fall's 6.5 quake. Mules are cool beyond belief. They not only carry huge amounts of people/gear/water but they don't need to carry any food for themselves as they will eat most of the desert if allowed. We carried more food for the puppy than the mules.....They will also drink the water without me having to process it... Natural arroyos/deltas channel rare rains such as hurricanes when they happen. But so far this year we've only had 0.05"of rain...This means the arroyos become safe and easier to travel in than riding through some thick brush, as everything in Baja can slice,dice,rip,tear your flesh as your mule plods through it all. Easy to see why the real Vaqueros wear custom leather, some of which is designed for easy in/out, on/off, horse/mule without wearing chaps. Beaches aren't white,sandy places, but various layers of shell,sand,rocks dependent on when the last Norther blew through. Since ALL of the East coast of Baja becomes a lee shore during the Winter, the tides/swells/and what the locals call 'dumpers' can make beach launching/retrieving a dicey event. Kayaks still have the easiest time because of their agility, and lack of draft. Some beaches drop off gradually, while others are pretty severe,suddenly. Between islands it can get REAL deep too. What I learned was that is some of these places you almost have to wait for a low tide to check out the low lying reefs,and shelves which sit just below the surface at a higher tide and could tear out a bottom on something larger/heavier than a kayak. Most of the "cruising guides" for Baja don't deal with the interface of sea/land , dealing with areas to anchor/moor larger boats. That's also probably because small sailboats aren't the norm here. The few marinas that exist want larger boats, and launch ramps are both expensive and awkward ( none have a floating dock, etc. to tie to after you launch). A few of us are trying to instigate some sort of boat building program for kids down here , but so far not much interest. Probably not gonna have Petunia ready to go over the mountains and try sailing the lagoons of Adolfo Lopez Mateos before the whales come down this year, so that might be a Spring trip as we can't sail in the lagoons while the whales are breeding. But she needs, and deserves, a good over haul so I'm gonna work on her for the next few weeks and see if I can tart her up a bit. I'll try to attach some pix of the mule trip and Agua Verde coastline ...