Banyan is heading south! It’s just getting a little chilly for us up here in the sea… I know… all of you knee deep in snow are just groaning and rolling your eyes but – really, we are getting cold. When you have to wear a wet suit to get in the water it’s just too cold. We have new standards.
But before we head south let me tell you of our adventures in the Sea of Cortez.
After our magical Thanksgiving, the kid boat flotilla headed north for a 20 nautical mile slog up to the wild and empty Isla San Francisco. Banyan sailed beautifully and quickly to windward with her newly cleaned bottom (ahhhh). We anchored in “The Hook” anchorage which was well protected from the relentless north wind. We explored the shore, hiked up the eastern ridge with all the kids in tow, we played and we even had a bonfire on the beach.
The next day we slogged north again for 10 nautical miles through the San Jose channel up to San Evaristo, a small anchorage on the Baja peninsula. It’s a quiet fishing village but it does boast a tiny store and a restaurant! We had not seen a store since Cabo San Lucas so this was a wonderful surprise!
It was blustery while we were in San Evaristo and with the wind gusting up into the 30s, boats sailed around on their anchors and there were a few wet dinghy rides. We even had to dig out our long pants and sweaters. They say that when you head up into the sea, you will just know when to turn around and head south… we were feeling the southerly pull… But, we did manage to snorkel, get schooling done and play. The men of the boats were all fired up about spear fishing and went out for hours at a time on the hunt. They finally succeeded and are now fully blooded and excited for more.
One of the moms organized a tortilla making class at the restaurant in town for all the kids. We all had a blast. All you need is flour, salt, water and LOTS of crisco! Plus, a really practiced hand at flipping them around… there were a few tortilla casualties… We had a birthday girl that day so in the evening we had a big party at the restaurant and EVERYONE was there from the anchorage. We even had a jam session and of course, cupcakes and piñata bashing. It was the kid boat flotilla’s last hurrah as we were all going separate directions the next day.
It was more fun than I can even express to have been together with these other boats. The other mom’s were amazing women and the kids all got along so well. There were no politics or discomforts as there can be in a larger group all moving along together. It was just extremely pleasant company. I will really miss them.
We headed south the following day to the cruisers paradise of La Paz in two short sailing days, stopping for the night in Ensanada Grande on Isla Partida. We caught a few fish on our way in too – Sushi!
Pulling into La Paz was a bit surreal after being so far from cities and internet connections. We laughed at our own reactions to the police sirens and car alarms. There was plenty of things on our to-do list while we where there. We went to church, had lots of ice cream, Cameron bought a spear gun (Merry Christmas), we got laundry done, Cameron got his teeth cleaned and one filling replaced ($100), we provisioned and connected with a few other kid boats. We also filled our water tanks and the diesel tanks which felt really good! For others in the area, Marina La Paz let us fill up with their RO water that they make if you buy diesel from them. We took full advantage… but we still tossed a bit of clorox in there to sterilize any bad boys floating around (1.4 ml per gallon – we have a charcoal filter at the sink that cleans up any residual chlorine taste).
We had some boat projects to get into as well. We were having significant voltage drop issues with the water maker and fridge, so we upgraded the wiring. Cameron really got to know La Paz because our water-maker was leaking oil. This was a bit of a surprise because we didn’t even know it had oil in it. It’s mentioned nowhere in the manual! After a few emails to Katadyn we determined that it needed some very exotic oil so, Cameron traipsed all over La Paz and finally found it. He had to bring his own jug to put it in unless he was willing to purchase a 50 gallon drum…
Now for the Whale Sharks!
The thing to do in La Paz is swim with the juvenile whale sharks that have feeding grounds just around the corner from the harbor. So, we had to swim with the whale sharks! We were told that it was quite easy to dinghy out of the harbor and find where all the tourist-toting pangas were gathered and there you will find schools of whale sharks. We hooked up with SV Cielo Grande who we had shared Thanksgiving with for the ride over there. Before leaving we filed up the gas tank but it was a last minute thought and probably an unnecessary precaution. Turns out – not so. Those whale sharks were QUITE a ways out there… We eventually found them, swam with them (AMAZING!), we got stung by jelly fish and then we all hopped back in the dinghy for a long ride back. Just as we were saying how glad we were that we had filled up the tank the engine faltered and sputtered… We headed straight for land and cut the engine, saving the fumes in the tank and walked the boat around the Magote (the spit of land that protects the harbor). The kids naturally thought this was a great adventure and were very jolly running along the beach. When the beach ran out we all piled back into the dinghy, said a prayer and fired up the engine for the trip across the harbor and into a strong outgoing current. Not even a 1/4 of the way the gas was gone, the engine died and the men pulled out the oars. If you have ever tried to row an inflatable rib up wind, against a current with four adults and four kids in it… you know that its just impossible. We managed to hail a passing panga and thankfully he took pity on us a towed us to the edge of the marina. We slipped him just over $10 and he was pretty stoked. We had left at 10am planning to be back by noon to have lunch… it was 3:30pm and having earned it, we devoured our lunches!
After that bonding experience, SV Banyan and SV Cielo Grande are now heading south together. We popped out of the La Paz harbor a few days ago and headed to Playa La Bonanza. The next day we had a lovely down wind sail to Los Muertos, a beautiful anchorage complete with a cruiser friendly resort where the kids can play in the pool and we can sit around, drink Pacifico and connect to the internet.
Cameron and Nick slipped out this morning to dull their new spear tips in the rocks but came home with four fish anyway… On other fishing news last night Adelaide caught her first fish 100% on her own. Cameron was making some final trimming on the Skipjack tuna we caught on the way to Muertos when Adelaide asked for some of the off cuts for bait and pretty soon she landed a Green Jack, yelling for help to kill him……. Super cool!
So, It’s from this lovely place that I sit and pop off this message. Up next? Christmas on the main land. Later this week we plan to head down and across the sea to Isla Isabela (the Galapagos of Mexico) and then on to Barra de Navidad for Christmas in warmer climes.