S/V INTREPID II - Cape Dory Intrepid 40

My photo
Intrepid II is a Cape Dory Intrepid 40 sailboat, hull #2, designed by Chuck Paine and discovered by the Captain in Blue Hill Maine in 2006. The crew are Kelly (Captain) and Carol (Admiral and Blogger). In 2009 INTREPID II embarked on her West Coast journey from Victoria to San Francisco, the Baja Sur Peninsula and into the Sea of Cortez. In 2010/2011, we sailed ifrom Guaymas, south to Bahia Banderas and back. In 2011/2012 she left Guaymas, headed south to La Paz, spent three weeks at anchor on our northward journey and rested on the hard in San Carlos. Her 4th, 5th and 6th seasons were Boat Projects related. Season 7 - we are hoping to cruise again at long last.

March 15, 2010

Road Trip - Mision San Javier - Thursday, Mar. 11

There is only time to post a few pictures of this adventure.  Needless to say this trip lived up to its "challenging, rugged road" description which we found after the fact in our older Mexico guidebook.  It's incredible to think vehicles use this daily in some cases. Certainly it better suits Jeeps, off-road vehicles and horses and burros.
Cave paintings

San Javier lies south west of Loreto over mainly dirt roads
(red mark is near P. Escondido)
The town of San Javier is an oasis in the midst of the high mountain plateau, and the church Mission San Francisco Javier de Vigge-Biaundó is impressive.  As we mentioned earlier, the road starts just south of Loreto, and is paved, with guard rails and signs for 14 kms, then it becomes a graded dirt road of twists and turns, blind corners and washout.  We stopped to walk in to one set of cave paintings as well.  It was a two hour (a long two hours) in and a shorter hour and a half out - as we now knew what to expect.
Bit of a washout near the Cave painting spot
Inspiring interior of Mission San Javier
References to the Spanish Missions in Baja California state:  Between 1744 and 1758, Miguel del Barco was responsible for building what has-been called "the jewel of the Baja California mission churches".  By 1817 the mission was deserted as the native population declined and the missionaries were expelled.  The church has-been restored and is now maintained by Mexico 's National Institute of Anthropology and History .

Visit to Loreto - Wednesday, Mar. 10

Former Baja California Sur State Capital building - still in use

Monday March 15th update:  We've had a very rolly night at the marina dock, as we are side-tied - not much choice.  The winds blew steadily all night and are continuing in the NW 5-18 knot range and on into Tuesday for certain.  So after a few more last minute things like using the computer, running to Fernando's tienda up the road for a few more provisions, paying for a few more days on a mooring, we will head over to find a mooring hopefully a bit closer in, with as little fetch as possible and hang tight.  Of course, the dinghy is on the deck and the outboard nicely stowed - so we may be hermits for those days.

The following pictures are from our road trip to Loreto last Wednesday:  the mission and some sights around town and a few from the Loreto Bay development south of town which looked almost deserted when we drove in with only one lonely golfer on the links.  The Mission was founded in October 1697 by the Jesuit missionary Juan Maria de Salvatierra.  Some references refer to it as "head and mother of all the Spanish missions in Upper and Lower California." 
Mision Nuestra Senora de Loreto courtyard
Mission of Our Lady of Loreto Concho in the 18th century
(courtesy of wikipedia)
Church interior
The winds were still very strong and as we neared the very small fishing basin, we spotted the bright yellow flag at the Port Captain's office - basically a small craft warning.

"Jaka" fruit - the large green ones

March 14, 2010

Los Gatos to Puerto Escondido - Mar. 7

En route with Snow Goose in the distance
Our tentative plan to have a 4 hour sail to Aqua Verde turned into an 8 hour run all the way to the "hidden harbor" of Puerto Escondido.  Since we've already posted updates from Puerto Escondido, we'll just mention that the weather forecast and actual winds were such to determine Aqua Verde would not be the best place to anchor if the northers came sooner than expected.  It is a fairly small, though picturesque anchorage and since there were two boats which needed good holding spots, we chose to keep moving. 

En route, about 09:30, Snow Goose radioed to say there were hundreds of dolphins headed our way -- what a sight!  We've never experienced being in the midst of such a large mass of dolphins who were heading south, stopping to check us out, play, jump and keep on moving.  If I learn how to post a video on the blog, hope you enjoy it (later).  A humpback whale also added to the day's enjoyment.

At noon, with our jib out, we were doing up to 7 knots and making very good time - heeled a bit more than Carol likes, but no real chop, so all was well.  At 13:30 winds were picking up,16 - 17 kms  from the North, gusting to 20 kms and we were tacking to make the most of the wind.  Once we found our way through the Candeleros (grouping of 3 islands), we were experiencing the 'gap' winds off the mountains - flukey, shifty winds.  We finally rolled in the jib to ensure we had no surprises as we entered into the Waiting Room and on into the inner harbor.  Once in the harbour, we anchored near the "windows" at the north end, with the idea we'd have less fetch, although perhaps more wind - mooring #81.  (Position:  25 31.0N; 111 00.5 W).  Snow Goose anchored nearer the marina and we all settled in to a well earned rest that evening.
The hidden harbour of Puerto Escondido

Los Gatos Update - Mar. 5 & 6

Red rocks of Los Gatos
SV Snow Goose 
Snow Goose and INTREPID II departed San Evaristo at 09:30 Friday morning, with plans to reach Los Gatos, 29 nm away. Winds were light, seas rippled, light swell, some clouds with a bit of sun peaking through.  Kelly started the water maker and we were on our way for a 6 hour or longer journey.   Batteries needed charging, so we motor sailed.  Just after 11 am we spotted dolphins and radioed Snow Goose to watch for them as well.  It is always a treat for us to watch them swim by so quickly and gracefully and often no time for the camera only time to be in the moment and enjoy.

The wind was on our nose as expected from the north so we continued motor sailing, with Snow Goose following in our wake in no real hurry.  More dolphins - Pacific Whitesides - stayed with us for almost 10 minutes.  Our sailing friends on Keetya I were already anchored when we arrived at Los Gatos, with two other boats (Dark Star and Zephyr), just as the sea was getting a bit choppy and white capped - good timing!  We didn't have a prime anchor spot, but dropped the hook in 20 feet of water while Snow Goose picked a spot further south.

This time we quickly put the dinghy in the water, with the outboard and paid a visit to Rob and Kim on Keetya I. We've rarely shared an anchorage with enough time to visit and catch up on our adventures.  We also met Patricia and Bob and "Rocket Man" on MV The Dark Side; it is nice to meet folks we've heard frequently on the nets.  Then as we headed off to see Frank on Snow Goose, the outboard started to act up.  To make another long story short, Rob came to our rescue with his excellent mechanical skills and ultimately, the outboard is working better.  Thanks Rob and Kim!
Anchorage from the beach
Kelly set up the flopper-stopper and we were glad he did, as it certainly slowed down the effect of the swells.  The sunset tonight was incredible - deep reds and we captured great photos.  Frank blew his sunset conch shell salute and all was well. 
Can you believe the colours?
Lagosta for dinner
Winds didn't start up until 05:00 am, so we had a fairly quiet night.  Unfortunately, those winds were from SSW 12 -13 kilometers with light chop, although both weather gurus Don and Geary had said "no winds" due to no gradient in the sea.  Not the ideal day we hoped for to explore, but off we headed to pick up Frank and dinghy to the beach to explore and view the incredible red rocks up close and personal. Just before that we finally had a visit from the three fishermen who had been on the beach, who motored up in their panga to offer us lagosta (lobster tails) and a cabrilla (a tasty fish of the grouper family).  As we'd rarely been approached to barter for seafood, we were pleased to do so this time, exchanging some pesos and limones and our one bottle of "coca".  We paid for the fish separately and all turned out to be delicious with the cabrillo sufficient for 3 separate meals!
Kelly hiking over red rocks of all sizes
Carol and Frank observing beach critters

We'll let the pictures tell their own story of Los Gatos.  It is considered a "fair weather anchorage" but a must-see for the impressive rock formations and striking colours, especially the rusty red on the north shore.  There are several reefs here as well and we'd hoped to snorkel, but the grey day and forecast stronger winds put a damper on that idea.  We took photos, met Rob and Kim on the beach to chat further and ended the day with a fantastic lobster dinner.
Amazing colour and shape

Puerto Escondido Update - Mar. 14

Loreto town hall
As we've been away from the computer for a few days we wanted to give you a quick update before going back into "catch up" mode for the anchorages we've visited.  Wednesday we rented a Nissan Sentra and drove in to Loreto (about 20 miles north), stopping for a great breakfast at Los Barrachos (the drunks?) just on the turn-off to San Javier.  (The image below, courtesy of 'mexicotravelnet', shows the area just north of the marina, past the Loreto resort development, airport and into the town.)

We'll write more about our time in Loreto, but briefly, we visited the Misión de Nuestra Señora de Loreto Conchó (founded in 1697) and the museum, the shady pedestrian street called "gringo gultch" offering souvenirs and crafts and walked down a number of streets.  We finally spotted the pink and green post office near the entrance to town and mailed some postcards. Hope they get to you as the small letter box wasn't even locked! 
Bell Tower of the Misión de Nuestra Señora de Loreto Conchó

Hotel in Loreto - lovely inside as well
Mision San Javier
On Thursday, we shared our day with Frank of Snow Goose, and headed for an adventurous drive to the Mision San Javier, 32 kms inland.  We covered 14 kms of paved and 18 kms of graded dirt road, some in better (or worse) condition than the rest. There were portions covered with run-off from the arroyos which do fill with water when it rains.  We made it in fine shape due to Kelly's careful driving, but it was fairly intense and exhausting for all three of us.  More on the land trips to follow.

Friday we "stayed home", rested up and enjoyed the harbour setting.  Saturday was laundry day which took most of the morning and early afternoon due to malfunctioning machines, too few machines and just THINGS in general.  A few minutes were left to send emails with hopes to get to a few more today. We hurried back to INTREPID II before the chop kicked up as we didn't want our clean laundry to get splashed. We can always wash the spray off ourselves.

Our current weather is sunny with "light whispies" overhead with a stronger wind than yesterday.  We managed to snag the end spot on the small dock near the dinghy tie-ups, side tied at about 9:30 am. We are washing down INTREPID II to remove 3 weeks of salt spray off every surface and line, then quickly drying all the fresh water off as lots of bees are in the area, all thirsty for fresh water.  The dinghy is thoroughly washed and dried, the water tanks filled, and the fuel cans filled with diesel.  Now it's time to stop for lunch, get cleaned up and hopefully participate in the Hidden Harbor YC weekly Sunday potluck.

Tomorrow, Monday, if all goes well we hope to make an early start once we've listened to the weather and decide if we try for Bahia Ballandra.  It is situated on the north west side of Isla Carmen, about 16 nm or 4 hours away.  If conditions don't seem cooperative we will pick another anchorage that offers north, north west wind protection and tuck in there.  Or we may find we're back here on a mooring for a few more days.  Stay tuned, hope all is going well in your lives and know we think of you often.

March 9, 2010

Onward to San Evaristo - Mar. 3

There were 9 nm (2 hours) to San Evaristo on the Baja California Sur peninsula side.  We were looking forward to spending a few days there again having spent five days at anchor waiting out the northers on our first visit.  We had managed to find some information for Augustine (cantina owner) about his GPS and were bringing some school supplies for Cesar, his 5 year old grandson.  Our trip went quickly and we anchored a little further in from our last anchorage, by the headland.  Frank on Snow Goose chose a spot a bit closer to shore. 

This time we wasted no time to put the dinghy in the water, outboard on, pick up Frank and quickly headed to the tienda only to find it closed.  A walk down the beach to the cantina, to find it open, but that Augustine was out fishing and Cesar was out with his father.  We shared a 'ballena" (large Pacifico cerveza), while our amigo had to go thirsty as there were no refrescos available. 
Strolling to the cantina
On the return walk, the tienda was open, but there were no fresh vegetables or fruit. We later heard there had been a family emergency and the mother and daughter who usually ran the store had left Dad in charge. As he was the truck driver, he had therefore not been able to get away to bring in fresh produce. That night we enjoyed a movie and popcorn aboard Snow Goose (thanks Frank!)  and it was pleasant to sit in a cozy, warm, screened centre cockpit and enjoy good conversation.
View from Augustine's cantina
Next morning (Thursday) was a bit more overcast, but we headed off for a hike to see the "old" cemetery past the salt flats on the north side.  It is a small one and the grave sites are lined with shells to keep the sand and ground cover from blowing away.  A very poignant site.
Old Cemetery of San Evaristo
Along the way we chatted with people we'd met earlier (SV Star), and met Tim ("Rambling Rat") from Scotland, who was driving around the world and who had noticed Kelly's distinctive Tilley hat.  He presented Kelly with a signed Alex Tilley business card to carry in the hat; no such card for my authentic Tilley shorts I was wearing though.  Tim is raising awareness for Street Kids International and is a long way from Scotland, his home starting point.  Later, we visited the tienda and were able to give Augustine his 'quick start' instructions for his GPS in Spanish, Cesar his gifts and enjoy great red snapper tacos.  Cesar kept us company for a walk in his bare feet, quite adept at scrambling over the rocks and hills.  We will miss our new friends and we promised to return to see the completion of the new catina!
The Captain and his young friend Cesar
That night was a rolly one, as we pointed into the SE with no protection from that direction; when the winds shifted to the NW they weren't strong enough to knock down the swells.  Oh well we should be getting used to this.  Plans and routes were laid out to head towards Los Gatos, 29 nm away at 09:30 next morning.

Isla San Francisco - Mar. 1- a very long day!

Our forecast was for NW - N winds in the 15 - 20 knot range, which we knew INTREPID II could handle very well, so Snow Goose and INTREPID II headed out at 09:30.  There was a small glitch with the windlass and then we moved out into the channel.  The pleasant parts - a ray or skate jumping out of the water, clear sunny skies, and wind.  The less fun parts - the wind was much stronger than forecast, we were heeled far more than the Admiral likes for her vertigo and it was a beat for almost 6 hours, not 4, to cover the 21 nm to Isla San Francisco. Snow Goose had her main up and pointed higher, we had our jib out - easier to control from the cockpit.  At times we were making 6 - 7 knots, at times we were being pushed south by current and 3 - 4 foot waves - not quite 'bufalos" but close.  This became a motor sailing journey to keep making headway and at long last about 3 nm away, the dolphins Keetya I had radioed us about came for a welcome visit to take our minds off the pounding. 

Snow Goose anchored about 14:00 and we got in just before 15:00 to a very welcome anchorage - the one we'd popped into a few weeks ago to check out.  A 'cactus party' was being planned by a few cruisers - a beach party we assumed, but we decided we had earned a rest and wouldn't put the dinghy and outboard in the water until the next day.  That night was rolly but we were tired sailors and slept fairly well.
SVs Snow Goose and INTREPID II anchored in Isla San Francisco
Time to explore the isla
Next morning it was time to see the sites.  We made an early trip ashore to check out the salt flats, walk along the fine sand dunes towards the south ridge and find the 'path' that led to the ridge to take those necessary pictures of one's boat at anchor from a high vantage point.  We had a great morning, meeting folks along the way and spending time on the east beach  - more surf, "chattering" rocks, shells and oyster catchers for our amusement.  A wonderful anchorage which we thoroughly enjoyed.  

Oyster catcher patrolling the beach

Rob and Kim of Keetya I with Kelly - we meet up at last

Farewell La Paz - Feb. 27

INTREPID II did indeed leave Marina Palmira on Saturday, February 27th, with fond farewells to the many friends we'd made on Docks 4, 3, 2, 5 and to the very friendly and professional staff.  We do hope there are many chances this season and in the future to cross paths with all of these special people and we will do our best to stay in contact with Winlink and emails.

That morning Kelly heard Geary on Sonrisa Net mention an earthquake in Chile; then we heard there could be followup tsunami warnings.  The best place to be for tsunamis is out at sea, away from the dock, so we kept on with our last minute preparations and left at 10:30 am in sunshine and light winds.  A half hour later, we heard the La Paz Port Captain speaking very emphatically to the marinas and anyone listening. We thought we understood it was an update on the tsunami warnings and we managed to reach our marina staff to clarify.  The reply was "yes, he'd just closed the port, but did we want to return?"  No thanks, we'll keep moving toward Caleta Partida.  By noon we had not noticed any effects within the sea, but stayed away from land to be sure. 

Our trip to Caleta Partida was a motoring one; pleasant with some long swells, sunshine and sea lions at play.  SV Snow Goose, with our friend Frank aboard, welcomed us to the north side of the anchorage and we delivered his small grocery order - what are cruising friends for!  We anchored at 15:00 hours (24  31.897 N; 110 22.956 W) in clear turquoise water not far from the fishermens' camp, hoping it would give us much better protection from the nightly corumuels.  We had a pleasant dinner and viewed an excellent sunset and the winds were only SW 18 - 19 that night, not as bad as they could have been.
North side of Caleta Partida
INTREPID II at anchor - Caleta Partida
Sunday morning the chop and swell lasted into mid day, then eased off and we dinghied to the north beach.  It is a small one, very shallow and it felt good to stretch our feet until we disturbed hundreds of small, cockroach-like bugs who scurried en masse from under rocks and seaweed away from us.  Not sure what they were, but it dampened our enthusiasm to walk much further, even if they were moving away from us.  In all there were 11 boats at anchor.  That night a magnificent full moon lit up the anchorage and we had only light wind and no chop and a more restful night.

We made plans to buddy boat to Isla San Francisco with Snow Goose, and spoke with our friends on Keetya I who were anchored over in El Cardonal, who were also headed that way.  Perhaps we'd finally share an anchorage.
Sketch of the western side Sea of Cortez
San Evaristo is directly across from Isla San Jose
Isla San Francisco is the dot below

Update from Puerto Escondido - Mar. 9

Puerto Escondido - the hidden harbour
We have arrived in Puerto Escondido (14 nm south of Loreto, which doesn't have a cruisers marina) a bit ahead of our tentative schedule.  We attempt to find sheltered anchorages for the winter northers which keep being forecast.  Some materialize in the form of very strong winds and very lumpy seas.  This one is considered a "hidden harbour", now run by two branches of the Mexican government and we are on mooring ball #81 for the week, having arrived late afternoon Sunday and booked through until the 14th.  The weather looked like it was building on Sunday when we were leaving Los Gatos for Aqua Verde so we pushed on for an 8 hour day, rather than the planned 4 hour day.  It is now sounding like the weather events won't start until Thursday, but continue on into Saturday, leaving sloppy chop to wade into if we leave Sunday.

We are quite far out in the anchorage, to limit the fetch from the northers when they arrive, but it means a sometimes wet and bumpy dinghy ride into the dock. We got spoiled at the dock in La Paz, didn't we?  This Singular marina provides a small store, mostly for beverages and a few staples; next door is the small clubhouse for the Hidden Harbor Yacht Club, which we've joined and already feel a part of the cruising community.  There are laundry facilities (3 washers, 3 dryers - almost $3/load however), showers and a restaurant which we may try as a treat.
Kelly and Frank of SV Snow Goose
This morning (Tuesday) we were up to listen to weather, a bit of the local cruisers' net on channel 22 and met up with our friend Frank of SV Snow Goose, to walk to the Modelorama store a mile or so up the road.  We had incorrect information that fresh produce would be available today (it's actually delivered on Thursdays around 11 am), but met the owner, Fernando, who was very pleasant, informative and fortunately for us, speaks very good English.  There was still some fresh produce available - bananas, onions, limes, and tortillas and milk - a light load to walk back with.
The Tripui Resort "R.V.park and hotel" is nearby.  We stopped in to a look - perhaps we'll return to have lunch.  The photo is courtesy of the resort website.  Later that evening we were serenaded by Frank's distinctive salute to the sunset with his conch shell, which resounded through the anchorage.
Conch Salute to the Sunset - Frank of SV Snow Goose
Although we are supposed to get Internet coverage out on the moorings, it doesn't work well, so this is coming from the cruisers' lounge.  There is glare everywhere making it hard to see on our old laptop, an excuse today for any typos!  If we can locate the marina staff member who speaks English and does the arranging for the rental vehicles, we plan to rent one for a day to drive in to Loreto, site-see mostly and provision for any heavier items.  The rental agency comes to the marina with the car and picks it up again.  All we need to do is find a car we can afford and which Kelly can fit into. We've learned that Loreto was the first Spanish settlement on the Baja California peninsula and served as the capital of Las Californias from 1697 to 1777.

This anchorage is stunning with the high mountains to the northwest, the two "windows" which look out to the north towards Loreto, and the blue of the water.  It's cooler today, a bit of cloud cover, but hopefully it will be another starry, starry night -- last night the clarity of the constellations was incredible.  We plan to backtrack now with the blog and describe our trip up here from La Paz, which we left on February 27th, and ad some pictures, as time permits.
Moorings are in the large basin
 (courtesy of marinapuertoescondido.com)
Hope Spring is already in your backyards!!