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Our “Sailing Out The Gate Video” leaving San Francisco 08/20/2015

Year ago, August 20, 2015 we left San Francisco to head to Mexico via our Steven’s 40 sailboat. I added this video to the last post a little late, so I’m posting it again by itself because I feel like it deserves its own post.  Our family of 5 plus Nina’s best friend Ava and Ellamae’s biological father,  Jason joined us for the first leg from Horseshoe Cove San Francisco to Halfmoon Bay, California.

Los Mangles, La Ramada and San Juanico (June 7th-10th)

Moving fast: We didn’t stay long at Isla Coronado.  In part, because of the cold water and already spending time there last year, but also because I was on a time schedule to get to Santa Rosalia to put myself on a bus. On June 22nd I had to go the U.S to work a travel nursing assignment and to fly Ellamae to her biological father for the summer. We wanted to get to some areas we hadn’t seen yet before the two of us left the boat life. Sound confusing? It takes a bit of extra planning, but we always seem to make it work.

June 7th: We waiting for the wind to fill in around noon again and we sailed from Isla Coronado to Los Mangles 26.279549, -111.389591. Los Mangles seemed to be a hard name to remember so we nick named it “Muggles” after Harry Potter.  Another flat night on the hook.

The next morning we went to explore ashore. There was an abandoned hotel there that we roamed around, then we went for a hike along the road and arroyo up the hillside to get some exercise and a view.  Along the arroyo we found an abundance of “snails door” shells. It was hard to keep everyone from collecting huge amounts.

That same afternoon on the 8th, we pulled up anchor and set sail northbound. We had a lovely downwind sail to La Ramada, 26.381940, -111.430564 .

Originally we were going to anchor in San Juanico, the bay just to the south of the point, but it appeared to be too exposed to the more predominant southwesterly winds. La Ramada offers better protection from the prevailing winds, but only fits about 5 boats comfortably. There were 2  already anchored in the cove when we arrived, but plenty of room for Easy and Shawnigan. As per routine, we set the anchor and hopped in the water to dive on it to check that it grabbed. We have never found a time when it didn’t grab, thank you Mantus Anchors, but it’s a good habit to get into.

Unfortunately the water was still chilly and green with visibility of 8 feet again.  Once we got below 8 feet, it opened up a bit, but it also got colder. We pulled out our thicker 5/4 wetsuits and more weights to try our luck at spearfishing. We got skunked.

The next day we ventured to a local farm that we heard about from one of the other boats that was already anchored there. With directions like “take the right fork on the road and stay right, eventually you will see it just off the road”, we found it and we are glad we did! The farm had fresh organic goat cheese, beets, onions and eggs! The landscape of the farm itself was worth hiking to see.

If you are planning to go to the farm at La Ramada/San Juanico you can take a peek at the location here: 26.3691834,-111.4442969

Jose

On our way back from stocking up at the farm, we stopped by the “cruisers shrine” on the San Juanico side. S/v Trovita was there, anchored all pretty by herself.S/V Trovita tucked in a sweet spot protected from the wind and swell.

We ate fresh raw goat cheese and looked through most of the other Cruiser’s additions to the shrine. We forgot to bring markers or any memento to leave there this time around.

The next morning, Taj wanted to kayak to shore and fish. He saw a family out there fishing and made his way over to them. We quickly realized that it was Jose and his family. Taj came home a few hours later with 2 good sized trigger fish. He said that he caught them, but we’re pretty sure Jose gave them to him to give to us.

Later on that evening, S/V Trovita contacted us on the VHF radio stating that S/V Kenta Anae was looking for us. Sure enough, they showed up just before sunset! You may recall us mentioning Kenta Anae from previous posts. They are cruising friends who we met and spent a fair amount of time with in the la Cruz/Puerto Vallarta area. We were happy to see them and happy to have boat kids around!!Merle, Matero and Taj heading out fishing. S/V Easy (left) and S/B Kenta Anae (right) at La Ramada anchorage.

After Taj’s fishing trip with Merle, the three of us (Easy, Kenta Anae, and Shawnigan) departed for Punta San Antonio.

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Northbound from Loreto: Isla Coronado (June 5th-6th)

Northbound from Loreto: Isla Coronado (June 5th-6th) still catching up on posts.

Isla Coronado is an uninhabited island about 8 miles northeast of Loreto. It’s one of the more commonly visited tourist sites for a quick island snorkel, swim with sea lions, picnic on the beach, or a hike up the 948 foot extinct volcano. We made this stop last year, climbing to the top, swimming and having impromptu cookie potluck on the beach with other cruisers. This year, we were hoping for another swim, this time with sea lions and possibly hiking to the top again.

From Loreto, we waited for the wind to pick up enough to sail off the hook. At about noon, on the 5th, we were able to sail off. Mike on S/V Easy continued to buddy boat with us. A few hour sail in mostly and no more than 20 feet of water, we turned over the engine for just enough power to get us in the protective cove and set our anchor @ 26.108002, -111.284458. When we arrived, we hopped in the water to clean the bottom of our boat and to check that our anchor set well. The water was green and chilly. Visibility was less than 10 feet, if even that. Dinner approached quickly and the day had passed.

On the 6th, our one full day there, was determined by the water quality. To swim with the sea lions or hike to the top of the volcano? We were guessing that swimming with the sea lions was not going to happen with the poor water quality and sure enough, when we woke up, not much had changed.  After visiting our anchorage neighbors on S/V Tigress II and convincing them to hike with us, we heading to shore and set out for our hike. Mike joined us as well.S/v Tigress II

Although not a far hike, the terrain makes it a more difficult one. The path is clear for the first 1/2 mile or so, then it turns into lava fields of small rocks with cairns marking the way. The last 1/4 mile the path takes you up a steep sandy slog up the mountainside. Taj got a free ride on Christian’s shoulders for the rocky part, but he climbed the steep slog to the top by himself. Ellamae managed to keep up with me the whole way, and Nina stayed back with Christian and Taj, but had no problem making it to the top. Looking down at the anchorage from the top of the Volcano.

Mike Jacoby taking in the view.

The whole clan resting, eating and re-hydrating at the top.

Going down the slog made it all worth it! It was like feet skiing, but on sand. The kids loved it. OH, and there are 16 different reptiles on the island, so keep your eyes peeled!

The reward waiting for us when we returned to our dinghies on the beach was a dip in that cold water. Nothing felt more satisfying after that strenuous hike on a hot day over that hot dry rocky terrain.

There were a few other boats in the anchorage, so we decided to organize another potluck on the beach. This time with real food instead of cookies. We had a turn out of 5 different boats for dinner that night. We even lucked out, one of the boats had kids! Roll call: S/V Shawnigan, S/V Easy, S/V Dad’s Dream, S/V Tigress II, S/V ____? (Sorry, I forgot the boat name! If you’re reading this , comment with your boat name 🙂 )

Isla Coronado is one of our many favorite anchorages in Mexico. To visit here from land based travels, click here!

Next northbound stop: 26.277602, -111.394997

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Up, up, and away!

After our crossing from Mazatlan to La Paz, our time spent in La Paz was relatively short. It was time to start making our way up, up, and away from the hurricanes before the hurricane season (June – November).  We’d planned on staying there as long as it took for me to do all of the online and other required work for my next travel nursing assignment during the summer. A few days of wifi at the Big Sur coffee shop was all I really needed and a day to re-provision. We got a little waylaid with celebrating Mike’s (SV Easy) Birthday and meeting a new kid boat called SV Secret Water. There were a few other boats we wanted to visit with too (SV Tribe, Waponi Woo, Orion, Bertie, Adventurer, just to name a few).  Oh the sailing social  life and how it ALWAYS makes you change your “plans”.Taj fearlessly jumping off the piling.

“new kids on the dock” Umbrella movement in La Paz.

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By our 5th day in La Paz we felt the itch to continue on, but the pull to stay. I think this will be a common feeling as we continue to sail the world and meet amazing people in amazing places. Alas, we chose to leave with a “see ya later” instead of a “good-bye”.

The first week of making our way north, up the Sea of Cortez was faster than our journey up last season. Now that I had work lined up with pre-work classes and assessments schedule in San Diego for June 23, we had somewhat of a time schedule. Mike on SV Easy continued to buddy boat with us. He had already been up to Puerto Enscondido as well, so he was onboard with shorter stops up to that point. Our stops were indeed brief, depending on the wind and water conditions. If there were anchorages or animals we hadn’t seen, we’d take some time exploring, but otherwise we didn’t lag too much until we got up to Bahia de Conception.

First stop, Isla Espirito Santo/Isla Partida. We sailed all but an hour of our 10 hour day to Bahia Ensenada Grande. We got out the hammock  for a swing and dip in the water while we were becalmed, waiting for wind.

 S/V Easy

The anchorage at Ensenada Grande was spectacular! There we five boats after Easy and Shawnigan had anchored. The Mobula Rays, jumping everywhere, sounded like we were in the midst of a pirate ship battle field. The slaps and splashes from their jumping dance of courtship, feeding, or communication surrounded and echoed off the steep burnt red sandstone and sedimentary cliffs of the anchorage. This was the moment that  we felt the magic of the Sea of Cortez return.

After a relaxing morning aboard, with an abbreviated boat-school day, we took a fieldtrip to hike across the island to the other side. Along the way we explored the many different geological features the island had to offer. Various igneous, metamorphic, sedimentary formations all in one place! It was perfect timing for Ellamae’s science block of her curriculum.

Two nights at Ensenada Grande and we were off to Isla San Francisquito, but first a quick swim with the sea lions at Los Islotes before the wind picked up.

We anchored in the southwest side of the island in 58 feet of water with just enough scope for a few ohour “lunch stop”. SV Easy anchored just behind us. We new our window for swimming would be narrow before the wind picked up, so we made sure to be ready to play and ready to leave. The visibility was not the greatest and the sea lions were not in their most playful state, but we did get to swim and play around with them for a while. The kids had a blast! To watch their excitement and comfortable interaction with the sea lions was priceless. As we predicted, the wind filled in after 1.5 hours of being there. We quickly rowed back to the  boat and sailed off to Isla San Francisco (Francisquito).Screenshot (3)Screenshot (4)Me, Josie, bliss.Screenshot (7)Taj and the 3 Sea Lions.Screenshot (9)Nina looking down at me with camera in hand and the Sea Lion.Screenshot (11)Screenshot (12)Ellamae (9) about 8 feet down, looking for sea lions to swim with, relaxed and in her element.

Isla San Francisco was just as pristine as it was the previous year. The white sandy beach surrounded by crystal clear azure water makes this anchorage most picturesque. We stayed two nights here in order to hike to the top of the hill and to spear fish.  Taj caught some fish himself, just off the boat with a fishing pole. Mostly catch and release puffer fish, but he did manage to catch a trigger fish. Yummy GrouperMike, paddling to shore.Isla San Francisquito

Nina And Ellamae beat us to the top.

  Mike looking ahead at the steep incline toward to top. Christian with Taj on his shoulders not far behind.

From Isla San Francisco we sailed straight to Punta San Telmo (2519.866 N, -11057.684 W) . The anchorage more of your “roadside anchorage”, but it did offer enough protection from the south south westerly winds.  Mike did an awesome job setting his anchor under sail for the first time. This wasn’t the only “first time” among us, we finally busted out the flopper stopper for the first time. We were getting quite of a wrap around swell from the south. Mike already had his flopper stopper out within an hour of anchoring. He was rocking notably much less than we were. I somehow finally convinced Christian to set up the Magma flopper stopper. It came with our boat when we bought it in 2012, but we had never used it. As we sat anchored much more comfortably, we both laughed and agreed that we shouldn’t have waited so long.  We hiked on shore a bit and settled in for a nice evening in an empty anchorage.  Not too long after a lovely sunrise, we set sail for Bahia San Marte. S/V Easy sailing off the hook!

Bahia San Marte was pretty sweet. We sailed off and back on the hook, as did Mike.  The cliffs that surrounded us were majestic. The cliffs looked rock climbable (hint to anyone looking for new amazing places to climb). Mike took his paddle board and we rowed the dinghy over to them to check out a cave that was highly recommended in the Shawn and Heather Sea of Cortez: A Cruiser’s Guidebook.  It was pretty cool. This was just the beginning of Baja’s cave exploring for the crew aboard SV Shawnigan.              Mike making is way back from the very back of the cave.

The next day we sailed off and back on the hook again to Agua Verde. One of our favorite places so far, in large part due to the quaint village where you can restock on some provisions as well as purchase fresh goat milk (seasonal) and goat cheese directly out of the farmer’s house. The local tienda, or little store, offers fresh fruit and veggies and other essentials. They rearranged it since the last time we were there to hold more products. Everyone in the village was very welcoming. Side note, there are petroglyphs in the area that was visited last year, but we didn’t this time around. See our post from last year for details here.  As per usual with our anchorage visits, we swam around to cool down and discover the underwater ecosystem around us. We found a little underwater cave/arch with sea fans and beautiful light. Nina and I dove through first and with time, Ellamae dove through her first underwater tunnel! The same day, Taj dove down to 10 feet! Our kids are turning in to fish!Shopping at the local tienda in Agua Verde.

Hammock life

 

 

Screenshot (16)Taj on his 10 foot dive.Screenshot (19)Relaxing in the cockpit after a swim.Screenshot (18)Taj on his kayak in Agua Verde.

Isla Monserrate was calling our name. We hadn’t been there before, the wind at the time wasn’t unfavorable, so why not? The sail there was great. We were in the swing of anchoring under sail, so we did it whenever we could. Mike was getting in the groove of it as well. We settled into the anchorage in time for lunch. Christian was having a bout of low energy, crummy feeling from his Lyme disease, so I took Ellamae and Taj to shore to explore along with Mike while Nina stayed onboard with Christian.  The wind picked up more than we were hoping for that evening. It was offshore, but it put a damper on exploring the underwater realm.Screenshot (20)Our 2 boats, Easy and Shawnigan, sitting pretty in the deserted anchorage.

Thankfully the next morning, Christian woke up feeling better. We set for a 10 mile sail for Bahia Candeleros. Another great day of sailing off and back on to the hook. We found ourselves anchoring in Candeleros with only a few with other boats, one of which was our friend John on SV Summer. Candeleros is known for its beachfront resort with day passes and wifi access. Word on the street says that they have gotten progressively uptight about letting cruisers come in and use the facilities. We chose to bypass these amenities this year. Truth be told, even if we wanted to partake in the resort luxuries, the wind was howling out of the west and straight into the anchorage. Needless to say, we were not leaving the boat for any reason, except to swim when there was not any wind during the early daytime hours.  In the morning, we did snorkel. The water was quite chilly, about 68F. The visibility was about 20 feet, so not optimal either, but we still enjoyed swimming with a huge group of the fasinating Mobula rays. 2 nights in Candeleros was enough for us this time around. Next stop… Loreto!Overnight anchorages overview map: From top left to right: Ensenada Grande, Isla San Francisco. Bottom row left to right: Punta San Telmo, San Marte, Monserrate (picture above), then Candeleros.

More Photos:Screenshot (13)Ellamae and Taj up close and personal.Screenshot (15)Hawlkfish

 

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Loreto: an Eco Tourism Mecca

There is so much to see in Loreto ! Where to begin?!

Loreto is a small town with about 15,000 people, 2/3 rds the way down Baja on the Sea of Cortez (Gulf of California) side. As the starting point for the California Mission movement, the town offers a lot of rich history and sightseeing opportunities. In the last 15 years+, Loreto has become a mecca for its Eco-Tourism.  The Sea of Cortez and the desert of Baja can be described as a melting pot of marine life and a rich desert ecosystem.  There are flora and fauna here that can not be found in many other places. The eco-tourism offers ways to see these spectacular sights with minimal to no impact on their ecosystem. As a family living on a sailboat, we are able to have our own eco-tours on the ocean, but finding land based activities are more of a challenge.  Thanks to our friend, Sara, who helps operate Loreto Sea and Land Tours, we were able to explore a snippet of Loreto’s land based ecosystem and other tourist sites.

Loreto was the first Spanish Colonial settlement of “New Spain” on the Baja. The Jesuit missionaries built the first of the California Missions there, Mision de Nuestra Senora de Loreto Concho,  in 1697. Loreto offered a fresh spring as a perfect resource for the missionaries to build and provide food to offer for the local Cochimi tribe and offer Christianity in return. This was a peaceful movement at the time. In 1769, the quest to explore the northern areas and establish missions along the way started.  As time passed the territories of missions fell in control of the Franciscans and then later, the Dominican order and divided into two regions, Baja California and Alta California. Alta California became the California we know today in the United States. I could go on and on about Loreto’s history, but I wont. If you are feeling the need for more of Loreto’s history click here.

June 4th, 2017:

After exploring the town of Loreto, we ventured up into the mountains, named Sierra de la Giganta, to explore the desert and visit San Javier, the second of the California missions. On the way up we stopped to hike to a very old and lonely fig tree growing up a rocky hillside. Of course everybody had the urge to climb it!

Further up the road we pulled over to get a view of the original “El Camino Real”! We had no idea that the “El Camino Real” in California had originated in Loreto. We saw the first road that brought the missionaries from Loreto up to San Javier and eventually up through modern-day California as the path of the California Missions!

Mision San Francisco Javier de Vigge-Biaundo was founded just 2 years later, in 1699, but took many more years to build. It was fully functioning by 1758. Water was more abundant here than in Loreto and the location was better protected from hurricanes. It was for these reasons that San Javier became the primary mission. The Cochimi tribe was drawn to the church and Christianity for the food and kindness they provided. The mission was successful with its community and agriculture for many years. Unfortunately, European diseases from the Spaniards spread among the tribe, eventually leading to the decimation of the Cochimi. Their culture and language became extinct by the 20th Century.

If you find yourself in Loreto either by boat or land and wanting to see sea life, land life, and culture, we highly suggest using Loreto Land and Sea tours. Not just because they are friends of ours, because they offer a plethora of different ways to explore the area and ways for the sailing community to explore inland history and culture: scuba diving, snorkeling with seals, fishing, hikes and many more options for adventures. Finding someone who can share so much local knowledge is a prized opportunity for our family as well as for many other cruisers.  We get to check off History of California Missions from Ellamae’s  4th grade boat-school curriculum, one year in advance!San Javier Mission (Mision San Francisco Javier de Vigge-Biaundo)Mike, aboard S/V Easy joined us along the tour. Taj can’t resist the temptation to climb another tree.

 

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Crossing the Sea of Cortez: from Mazatlan to La Paz 

We left Marina Mazatlan May 14th around 7:30 am, timed with the tides again. The swell was down, unlike coming in, the timing this time around was not as crucial. We had a minimum 2 day if not possibly 4-5 day crossing ahead of us, so an early departure was not necessary for the purpose of timing our arrival. Mike on SV Easy departed just before us to buddy boat across. We planned on communicating via predetermined SSB frequencies once our VHF was out or range.

The first day out was pretty mellow. We were forced by the wind to make a more north, northwesterly point of sail, which was fine. We motored for about an hour, just enough to get out past Isla Pajaro and catch a zephyr of wind. It was Mother’s Day, the sun shown brilliant, and dolphins came to swim off of our stern. Christian tried to join them in the water by tying himself off with a rope and filming with the goPro. We are pretty convinced that dolphins can hear our heartbeat, because as soon as he got in the water they swam away. When he just had the goPro in, they stuck around. Me with my Happy Mother’s Day smile after the dolphins visited.

The next day, was my birthday. I turned 36 and it was my first birthday celebrated out at sea. The day started out calm. I had planned to talk with my travel nurse recruiter via Satellite phone to try to pin down a travel job for the summer. We had already been conversing but nothing was final. I knew I needed to get something pinned down, but we were ready to set sail, so IridiumGo to the rescue! I had my nursing recruiter call me via satellite phone to secure a job while in the middle of the Sea of Cortez. I was shocked at how well the reception was. The call was dropped a few times, but we were able to get what needed to be done done and secured a job at Kaiser San Francisco for me in the summer! That was a pretty good birthday gift. This is where we were mid day on my birthday.

The kids loving Birthday cake in the middle of the crossing.

Later on that afternoon, the wind picked up to the mid 20’s and by evening was in the high 20’s with gusts of low 30’s on a close reach (upwind). We were double reefed with our Mainsail and furled in jib to about 90% for most of the night and the next day. Despite that our boat was handeling it well, and the hydrovane kept us steering perfectly, I got a little sea sick. The kids did too, but thankfully, no one reached the point of vomiting. They still were able to eat my birthday cake. Although I was able to maintain good spirits I was rendered almost completely useless. I can’t go down below to cook at all, let alone help the kids with anything. Tacking, trimming sails, steering is fine though and is actually helpful, so I don’t mind being “on watch” when I get sea sick. By nightfall I was feeling fine as long as I stayed focused and outside. I did end up taking a Bonine to help me keep from throwing up and fall asleep during my limited time off watch.     Love this “tilt boat’n” action! Water spilling over the rail, SV Shawnigan holding strong and steady.

The kids just relaxed or slept in off under the comfort of our dodger or they clipped their harnesses on and went outside for fresh air. No boatschooling was happening this crossing. So far no one on our boat has gotten so sea sick to the point of throwing up since we left in August 2015. I’ll take it as a sign that we’re getting the hang of it. All clipped in on the aft deck, singing songs into the wind to pass the time. Ellamae lounging in the dodger.

By the end of the third day the wind had us going north again, north of Muertos off of Isla Ceralvo. We tacked up before being able to tack back towards La Paz. We made it up until the channel below Isla Espiritu Santo before turning on the engine for that last hour. We made to Anchorage just north of La Paz, called Caleta Lobos, just after dark. Fortunately we’ve anchored here many times before, so coming in at dark was not ideal, but ok. The anchorage was flat and we slept so well!

More pictures:

 Taj fell asleep, clipped in to the back stay! Then again in the dodger…Nina perched up in a hammock on our first day out, while it was calm.

Mike on SV Easy at Caleta Lobos (just north of La Paz).
Stay tuned for our adventures in La Paz and up the Sea of Cortez via the east coast of Baja.