Sunday, June 14, 2015

La Paz to San Jose

Fishermen head out at dawn from Los Muertos.

We planned to leave La Paz around June 6th but circumstances got in the way. The exhaust mixing elbow on the engine was showing signs of corrosion so I removed it for an inspection and, sure enough, it had deteriorated to the point where it could have started leaking salt water onto the engine.

Made of stainless steel, the elbow injects seawater from the heat exchanger into the exhaust, which is why water comes out of the exhaust pipe of your engine. The water is injected through the small tube and mixes with the exhaust gas in the larger tube. Photo credit: Marine Power Ltd.
I did not have an elbow among my spare parts so the only option was to repair the old one by welding up the areas where corrosion threatened the integrity of the part. It took about ten days to get it back from the welder, but when it was finished it was as good as new. While waiting for the elbow to be repaired another yacht transport ship arrived and Rob Cross and I delivered two more boats to be hoisted on deck and shipped to Canada.

The Tiberborg's deck was already half full of boats when it arrived from Panama. In La Paz eight more boats were loaded. It's becoming more popular to ship boats to Canada instead of bashing roughly 2,000 nautical miles up the coast, or sailing the clipper route.
Notice the diver in the water. His job was to position the slings under the boat. The last time we loaded a boat on a ship, there were two divers with SCUBA tanks. This fellow just had a mask and fins, yet he worked faster than the first two guys.
The Tiberborg's slings were lengthened to accommodate this 45' catamaran. I was told that the cost to ship a 35 foot monohull to Chemainus, BC is around $12,000. That might sound expensive, but if you factor in wear and tear on boat and crew, provisions, fuel, etc. for sailing there, its pretty reasonable. Chemainus is located on Vancouver Island, about 50 miles north of the city of Victoria.

By the time the elbow project was done, hurricane Blanca was bearing down on the Baja Peninsula. At this time of year hurricanes usually fizzle out or head out to sea before they reach Baja, so I wasn't concerned about Blanca. The folks that experienced last year's hurricane Odile were pretty worked up about it though. So throughout the harbor, people were taking down canvas biminis and awnings, securing dinghies and lashing down anything that looked like it might fly away in a wind. I didn't get concerned until I saw the local restaurants being stripped of sun covers and awnings. So we secured Finisterra for storm conditions, doubled up our dock lines and made plans for a hurricane party the night before Blanca was scheduled to hit La Paz.

Storm track for Blanca. In the last 24 hours before it arrived in La Paz it was downgraded to a tropical storm. Intrepid mariners that we are, we refused to cancel the hurricane party in spite of the downgrade.
Sylvia & Tom of S/V Cinnabar enjoying fresh blackened yellowtail at the hurricane party.

Saturday, June 6th, the weather was hot and still, with humidity hovering at about 80%. Sunday afternoon the wind began to blow out of the east, rising to about 20 knots.  By that night we were seeing a few gusts to 30 knots. The predawn hours of Monday brought the heaviest winds, with gusts up to 47 knots. We expected heavy rain but, surprisingly, none fell. Instead the air was full of fine dust and by the end of the storm Finisterra was covered with a thick coat of Baja real estate. Monday afternoon the storm left town and we surveyed the damage around the waterfront. In the marina there was little to report except a blown out window in a restaurant and one of the dock cleats that Finisterra was tied to came adrift. Closer to La Paz, a couple of boats broke free from their anchors and at least one fetched up on the beach on the Mogote Peninsula. Once the wind abated we got busy and washed the grime off the boat and made final preparations to head for San Jose del Cabo, about 150 miles to the south, our jumping off point for the trip up the peninsula to California. We departed on Tuesday morning, June 9th.

Our first stop was Puerto Balandra (again!) where we planned to do some snorkeling. The night before we left we went out for dinner with friends, and I picked up a mild case of food poisoning. So instead of swimming, I spent the day recovering. The next day I was feeling better and we left Balandra, bound for Ensenada de Los Muertos (Bay of the Dead). Over the last few years the local hotel operator there has been struggling to get the name of the place changed to Bahia de Los Suenos (Bay of Dreams) and I think the new name is beginning to stick.

We arrived a little before sunset on June 10th. The water was clear enough that I could see the anchor hit the sandy bottom 22 feet below the surface. For the next two days we snorkeled among the extensive coral beds on the southwest side of the bay, marveling at the variety and colors of sea life there.

Los Muertos is a beautiful bay with a rocky point to the northeast and a long sandy beach. You can just make out the coral beds in the southwest corner of this shot. Conditions here were perfect for snorkeling, with hot temperatures and plenty of sun. When we tired of snorkeling we hiked the short distance up to the Hotel del Suenos and sipped margaritas and swam in the pool.

On June 12th Finisterra departed Los Muertos at 0300,  and motored in calm wind and flat seas to the marina in San Jose del Cabo where we are making final preparations for the next leg of our journey.

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