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Now hail Caleta Pulpito

Posted on Thursday Sep 15, 2005

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Ok, one better than Refugio ?¢â??¬â?? Caleta Pulpito! With the water clarity about 40 feet, and billions of fish (more than Refugio!), Pulpito was a snorkelers?¢â??¬â??¢ paradise! There were schools of trigger fish just following us around to see what we were doing; we saw an elusive and rare Golden Grouper, and shellfish (a rare site these days). In this remote place, we were able to glimpse what the Sea of Cortez used to be like 10 or 15 years ago. Everywhere we looked in the water were schools of large and small fish.

All hail Puerto Refugio

Posted on Wednesday Sep 14, 2005

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Amazing water clarity! We can see probably 40 feet and unlike the rest of Bahia de Los Angeles, there?¢â??¬â??¢s lots of fish to look see. Groupers, trigger fish, Sergeant Majors, Cobolt Fish, Angel Fish, Parrot Fish, unidentified olive green fish, stone fish, and more! Big schools of these suckers are everywhere. It?¢â??¬â??¢s a snorkeler?¢â??¬â??¢s paradise in 85F water, 88F air with only 23% humidity. I can?¢â??¬â??¢t believe that this place is almost empty, just Rhythmic Breeze, us and a large power boat that is gone all day fishing.

Everyone is afraid of the bugs up here, but the winds have kept them away and the memory of them has kept the other boaters away. Their loss, because this place is fantastic!

Still Going

Posted on Wednesday Sep 14, 2005

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As mentioned in the previous message, all night long the wind blew 35 to 40 knots. The next day it blew 20 to 25 all day, and then at night 25 to 30. We were starting to get used to the severe winds. It kept the heat way down. We had to break out the blankets at night because things dropped into the low 70?¢â??¬â??¢s. I was wrapped up in a blanket in the morning and Sherrell laughed at me because it was 78 degrees. The humidity was only about 25% instead of the standard 70% to 80%

The third night we decided to watch movies on Rhythmic Breeze. It seemed funny to us that all the other boats we were hearing on the radio were running for cover from the westerly winds, which were not quite as strong as our winds. After 3 days, the wind seemed pretty normal to us. We were watching movies, walking the beaches and enjoying the cool weather. Our last night the winds were blowing about 30 to 35 and we slept well.

In the morning, the wind was still howling and the bay outside our anchorage was full of 4 foot waves and white caps. It was a great wind angle for heading north, so we took it! After hoisting up 400 pounds of seaweed on our anchor chains, of course.

Going Ever Still

Posted on Tuesday Sep 13, 2005

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Departing Alcatraz, which we wondered if the mighty wind machine would let us escape, we rocketed north. We sailed like banchees! Lots of wind and we drove our boats hard. However every time we looked at the speed over ground on the GPS, it read 3.4 knots. There was a good 2+ knot adverse current. By the time we arrived the 25 miles later, we had sailed almost 35 miles through the water. It took us 7 hours to make 24 miles to the entrance to Puerto Refugio (?¢â??¬???Ray-foo-HEE-oh?¢â??¬). An average of 3.4 knots, and I can tell you we were probably averaging about 5.5 knots through the water.

But arriving in Refugio was like going back in time -- huge cliffs, lots of birds and dramatic rocks everywhere. It was like we stepped back into an newer world long ago. It was worth the long day sail to get here! Now we?¢â??¬â??¢re going to try to fix Rhythmic Breeze?¢â??¬â??¢s video recorder to capture some footage on film!

Going North

Posted on Monday Sep 12, 2005

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We decided to take a short trip north out of the Bay of LA with another boat, Rhythmic Breeze. We might circum-navigate Angel de la Guardia over the course of a week or two, or we might just go to the north tip and then back to the Bay.

With no real plan, we set out from the town in 15-20 knots of breeze, tacking out of the anchorage and heading north. As we sailed up, there were large gusty spots where we?¢â??¬â??¢d heel over 25 degrees, go like hell, then hit the end of the patch pop back upright and the sails would start to flap with no wind. It was really strange sailing.

Both of us managed to sail up to the top of Isla Coronado when we could see a wall of white water waves off in the distance where the anchorage, Ensenada Alcatraz, is located. We were both guessing over the radio that the night time ?¢â??¬???Elephantes?¢â??¬ or Westerlies like the Santa Anna?¢â??¬â??¢s in California, had kicked in. As we approached, the wind did a 180 shift to the west and started to howl.

We rounded Alcatraz Island and entered the bay with the wind blowing about 25 knots. As we anchored, we realized, that as the sun went down, we were probably going to get blasted even harder. Typically when the sun goes down, the thermal difference between the land and the sea cause the Elephantes to increase.

All night long we were blasted with 35 to 40 knots of wind. Fortunately there was no fetch, so the waves didn?¢â??¬â??¢t build up, but the racket of the howling winds kept Sherrell awake most of the night. The next day the wind just couldn?¢â??¬â??¢t quit, it blew all day long at a respectable 20 knots or so. Braving the winds, we went ashore on the golden sand beach with a beach umbrella.

Huddled together out of the sun we relaxed and thought how silly we must seem to have a 2 mile long stretch of perfect sandy beach and then to see the four of us with a small umbrella trying to stay in the shade. As a lone plane flew over head we thought the excitement might kill us. I wanted to change channels on the tv, but I forgot we no longer had a tv. But this channel wasn?¢â??¬â??¢t too bad. A good sized seal decided to try to catch some fish about 20 feet off the beach in front of us. Swimming all around he leapt out of the air and performed a barrel roll. Not bad!

Hanging Out

Posted on Wednesday Sep 7, 2005

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We’ve been pretty lazy the last few days.  We’ve spent the week hanging out in front of the town.  I’ve added some wiring into the bow so we can connect a fan there when we’re sleeping at night – what a relief!  I’ve also been working on a new setup for our autopilot and the trim tab, which I’m quite excited about, but we still need to make a couple of items first before we can test it out.  We also cleaned the boat bottom and the hull.  So I guess we haven’t been too lazy, but it’s been a slow week.

 

On the SSB we’ve been hearing some of the live reports of people being rescued from Katrina, so I can imagine if the HAM bands are that busy with emergency traffic, the media is having a field day pointing fingers and stirring up trouble, rather than providing news or help.  We saw a special on PBS about 4 years ago about how New Orleans would be totally flooded if a Category 4 or 5 hit.  We also heard that lots of other countries are providing aid, so hopefully things get straightened out.

 

Our hurricane activity down here has been pretty mild so far.  Everything has stayed away from land.  We’re currently watching Irwin, but it seems to be fairly small and heading out to sea.

Sailing in B of LA

Posted on Thursday Sep 1, 2005

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We’ve been sailing on and off the anchor and hardly ever using the engine.  The waterways are protected by islands and there are some massive mountains all around the bay.  If this place had trees instead of cactus, it would be just like back home.  We sailed into town with Rhythmic Breeze and we took photos of each other under sail so we FINALLY have some photos of us sailing!  Hopefully we’ll be able to update the website and the new photo on the homepage will be us heeling over and sailing fast!

Whales and Chubascos

Posted on Tuesday Aug 30, 2005

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Mitlan Island is a Mecca for a group of resident fin back whales which can grow to 75 feet long! They are biggies and at night they often circle our boats puffing about and looking for snacks. Most of the nights have been calm, but a couple of nights ago, the sounds of whales breathing was stamped out by a Chubasco.

A Chubasco is a squall that precedes a lightning cell of clouds. Sometimes the winds reach 60 knots. For us however, it was a mild attack. At about 4:30 am, I suddenly woke up. I felt the boat start to swing radically, but there weren?¢â??¬â??¢t any sounds of wind. I looked out the hatch to see in the moonlight a wall of approaching clouds and lightening. Chubasco! I shouted to Sherrell as I leapt out of the hatch!

The one night we left our full sun awnings up, the squall came after us. We quickly started removing covers. The wind went from 5 knots to about 20 knots in 2 minutes. As we started to finish getting the last cover off, the wind gusted to the mid 30?¢â??¬â??¢s perhaps in the 40?¢â??¬â??¢s. It lifted our hard dinghy off the deck, we had it tilted up to scoop air down into the boat with the halyard. There was a line tied to it to prevent it from going anywhere, but the wind hit it like giant fist and ripped the cleat right out of the dinghy and sent it flying across the deck.

I had to leave Sherrell to wrestle with the cover while I man-handled the dinghy back into it?¢â??¬â??¢s chocks and tied it down. We were about 3 minutes too slow in getting things secured, and the wind was howling. After getting the dinghy tied up, we managed to get the last cover down on the deck and tied down, then we let out some more chain to 210 feet giving us a scope of 6:1 and we held on.

Like in the movie, ?¢â??¬???Captain Ron?¢â??¬, ?¢â??¬???They come on fast and leave you fast, boss!?¢â??¬ About an hour later the wind calmed back down and we watched the sun come up then took a nap.

Sometimes Paradise is all work.

Fin Whales at Isla Mitlen

Posted on Thursday Aug 25, 2005

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We woke up to the sound of a group of fin whales feeding off the tip of the island. These guys are biggies and they must have been hungry because they were swimming the currents for hours. At one point they swam between all three boats that were anchored here! Exhaling enough seaweed breath to fill a large hot air balloon in one sudden PHOOOOOSH!

Mexican San Juan Islands

Posted on Sunday Aug 21, 2005

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The Bay of LA is full of little islands, protected anchorages and great day sailing.  We’ve even jibed our way into Puerto Don Juan and anchored under sail – that’s how relaxed the sailing up here is!  No big swells for us! 

 

There is also a lot of current with an 11 foot tide range, we get tide rips too, just like in the San Juan Islands back in Seattle.  The tide rips are great feeding grounds for the whales and we try to time our trips around the islands to coincide with max ebbs and floods to spot the big critters!

 

So far we’ve visited Ensanda Quemado, Puerto Don Juan, Bay of LA village, Caletia Ventana and Punta Gringa.  We’ve done lots of hiking, snorkeling, and we even went “dinghy surfing”.  Another boat, Rhythmic Breeze, has a wind surf board, but there was no wind, so we tied a long line around their dinghy’s outboard and pulled the board at top speed behind the dinghy while we “surfed” around the anchorage.  Good times!  Even the cat is doing better, it’s like she’s 4 years old again!