January Update

January Update


Update December 23, 1996

We certainly didn't plan on spending 9 days in Cabo San Lucas when we arrived, but that's how long it took before we were underway up the inside coast towards La Paz. We arrived on a Saturday and there were no slips available in the marina that day, so we made our way back out through the moorings and anchorage and anchored SPIRIT at the end of the other anchored boats, furthest from the marina and town center. We recognized many of the boats that were anchored there, having met them along the coast on the way down. WINGS and Far Niente anchored past us. It didn't seem like that bad of a thing not being able to get tied to a dock, we were close to a gorgeous beach, the scenery offered by the rocks on the other side was good. We decided to deploy our stern anchor, mainly because JAZZ, the sailboat next to us had his out, but we also believed in would lessen the rolling effect from the swell. No, it wasn't a bad thing because it was $0 rent, and the marina was charging $1 per foot of boat length per day. We were saving $42 per day by being anchored. We had many $0 days coming from San Diego so out budget was buffered a little but a penny saved for the future is a good thing.

After deploying the inflatable dinghy with the larger 6 HP Johnson outboard and taking Cindy to the beach so she could feel dry land again for a while, then setting up the kerosene anchor light, we were set for the night. We started using the kerosene anchor light after Turtle Bay rather than just turn on the anchor light switch because of the amount of electricity it took from the batteries. I can get 5 - 6 nights of burning from 1/2 quart of fuel. I raised Fred from WINGS on the VHF to discuss dinner, we were prepared to serve up the mahi-mahi if everyone still wanted to come over. He raised Carl and all agreed if we were willing to host, they would be over, dinner at 5:00. The fish was great eating, but there's one thing I've learned about doing overnighters. I've felt it several times and I've heard from others. Once you get the routine down, you feel OK the next day. That is until you have to deal with something, such as the propane grill won't light and you need to fix it to cook dinner, or the dinghy motor won't start so you have to row your dog to shore. I get cross, can't think, and am generally worse than worthless. But, it was still a fun evening because we had all succeeded in bringing out homes down the entire Mexican Baja Coast. Everything else we own is either in a 10' x 13' storage unit near the San Francisco Airport or being baby-sat by friends. Most of the people we are meeting along the way are in the same boat, so to speak.

Sunday was also pleasant at the anchorage. We had decided to run the watermaker for the entire last leg down because the motor was running in case we did have to moor out, so we still had fresh water. No rush to get in, the weather's great and we had things to do on the boat. Something wasn't working right with the anchor wash down pump. I only needed it in Turtle Bay, but when I turned it on, no water came out the hose. Instead, I learned later, water from the pump came back down the anchor chain feed tube into the bilge. Working on that project would give us the opportunity to get at things we wanted from the lower layers of the stuff packed in the V-berth. And another project bubbled it's way up to the top of the priority que. The head plumbing main exit tube had blocked up. We could put stuff into the 6 gallon holding tank, but we could not flush stuff through the hull, either directly from the bowl, or by hand pumping out the holding tank. We had a limited amount of time before this *had* to be fixed. So, Sunday was spent dealing with any project related to having the V-berth emptied out, and Monday morning was spent trying to replace the culprit tube but eventually fixing the problem by running a coat hanger down the existing one to break up that white crusty stuff that forms on the insides. I think that stuff is a result of a chemical reaction between urea and salt water. Keeping vinegar in the tubes when not in use is supposed to fight the buildup, but that's harder to do when you are living aboard. It's the nasty job, nuff said.

WINGS and Far Niente were lucky enough to get slips in the marina on Sunday, so when I cleaned up on Monday, I took the dingy in to see if we would succeed. Though I was liking the $0 days, Marsha remembered the large group of Canadian sailboats about to descend on Cabo from Magdalena Bay, and the swell had been building so we decided to start getting serious about finding a slip. It turned out I got lucky. There was one slip, a space on the Fuel Dock. There was no fuel available yet, but it was in the plan. Something about manana. It didn't have power but it did have fresh water. I hesitated to think about paying for a slip in a marina but not getting power. The woman managing the marina said I could pay for a 39' boat because of no power. From the chart on the wall, it looked easy to get in and out of and located close to everything else we needed so I took it. We were in. Shortly thereafter, SPIRIT was tied to the fuel dock, in company of several other cruising type sailboats. There was now much to do. Having the time to anchor out before coming in gave us time to organize the getting the land based stuff done while paying for the slip project in our minds better, and we would begin tackling the task list manana. We spent the rest of the afternoon soaking up the ambiance of Cabo from the marine, then bar and restaurant hopping with our new friends. Margaritas, cheeseburgers, and quesodias at the Broken Surfboard and Squid Roe.

Marsha and I had come to Cabo San Lucas in April of 93 on a 4 day Sun Trip package deal. It was only a two hour flight to the airport in nearby San Jose Del Cabo from Oakland California. We were amazed to see how much the downtown area had developed since then. Some of the deserted side streets we had walked down before were now lined with brightly lit stores and restaurants. There was now a Hard Rock Cafe in the center near Planet Hollywood. The development isn't finished either. Some of the buildings along the streets that were still vacant were being renovated. A building larger than any in the central area is in the girders stage of construction. From the anchorage, we could see more hotels under construction as well. But this time for us, the Cabo experience was much different than before. We were not weekend tourists like most of the people walking up and down the souvenir shop lined streets, we were now part of the Cruising Community.

The Broken Surfboard restaurant, also known as Restaurant San Lucas has become a central hangout for the cruising community. Phil Oscar and his Mexican wife Lucina have adopted the sailboat cruisers as the main focus of their marketing. In conjunction with Coast Chandlery, one of two well stocked marine supply stores adjacent to the marina, they run a local VHF cruisers net on channel 22, Monday through Saturday at 8:00 AM. It's run similar to the Ham nets with emergency's first, which there are none usually, then a friendly good morning from each of the monitoring vessels that has their microphone handy. The reception in the marina using just the hand held was great. They offer a two for one cervesa and margarita coupon for unlimited use for skippers that come in and sign their guest book. This is a great deal because the general public only gets 2 for one drinks during happy hour, from 2 to 9 PM. The net monitor, Phil or one of the guys from the Chandlery, asks boats that arrived in the past 24 hours to describe the vessel and crew, and asks skippers departing in the next 24 hours to speak about where they are going. There is chat about the weather for vessels going north to La Paz, or across to either Mazatlan or Puerto Vallarta. The weather information supplied is word of mouth, usually from people that had listened to the 7:00 ham Sonrisa net. There is a Treasures of the Bilge segment where people can't talk about buying or selling, but they can talk about trading gear, then get connected for the future deal. This is how Fred from PAX, who arrived later in the week, finally found a 2-1/2 HP outboard for his dinghy. Then there is a contacts and information segment where people can ask if anyone has heard from another boat, pass on information of general interest, such as the fact the bank money windows were generating an out of money message, yet people's bank accounts back in the states were being debited. Finally, Phil would close by telling the new arrivals about the services they could take advantage of at the Broken Surfboard.

You can bring your laundry up in bags and it would be back clean and folded neatly the next day. We lugged our almost three weeks worth up for a cost of 120 pesos (about $15). Marsha felt it would have taken her most of the day to do it herself and cost about $12 in quarters (the laundry at the marina takes quarters, not pesos). They also have a mail forwarding service that consists of any cruiser that has crew or guests flying back to the states is asked to volunteer to take the outgoing mail back and mail it when they get there. This saves much time and money for us mailing things back, such as the floppy disk containing the last web page update. There is no propane available in Cabo but you can bring tanks to be filled to the restaurant and they will be returned full the next day. They make arrangements for purified water deliveries, do crew match making, have a book and magazine swap library, have special dinners for $5 on Wednesdays and Saturdays, and offer general camaraderie to the cruising community. The layout of the restaurant is a front that is open to the street, very conducive for walking in, and a central galley and serving counter. The tables and chairs are those cheap white plastic patio furniture kind, but they all matched. Their signage is painted on a couple of surf boards hanging out in front. It's great!

The top of the list of things to do was clean the boat with fresh water and get the laundry project underway. Our main VHF radio had been acting up by cutting out randomly. I had taken it apart and found a wad of paper the previous owner had taped to the side of the chassis to attempt remedying some short circuit. I lined up an electrician that serviced marine radios to come fix it. There was the arrived safely info, I updated the web page and made a few phone calls to the states. Let me not forget the officially check into the country formalities. We had to first go to the immigration officer on one end of town and present passports, visas, vessel documentation certificate, and several copies of the completed itinerary form, then go check in with the port captain on the other side of town with the same plus several copies of the completed crew list form. We then had to go to the building next to the port captain's and pay an entry fee. We would need to get a copy of his receipt to give to the port captain when we repeated the process when we were ready to leave. We would have to check out of the port the day, or one day prior to leaving. We had run into Fred from WINGS at the immigration office. He was checking into and out of the country at the same time. HINT, HINT! Fred joined us on our trip to the port captain's office and while waiting in line for our turn, we got to talking with another cruiser that had just arrived. He and his wife just arrived in a 38' cruising sailboat, coming from Vancouver directly to Cabo in 18 days. He described how comfortable it was off shore away from the coast and freighter traffic. Life soon got normal. If a weather system comes, great because that means you get to sail. I didn't ask him about fuel capacity but I'm sure he had to manage that. He stated if he had to come down coastal cruising, that he wouldn't be able to sleep because it is so stressful. Roger that! They were leaving the next day for Puerto Vallarta. I thought about the progress SPIRIT and it's crew still had to make before thinking about any kind of passage making. Once cleared, the last official we had to pay said, You are finished, welcome to Cabo, now go have a margarita. On the way back to the marina, Fred detoured us down a side street where there was a fresh produce stand next door to a tortilla factory. We stocked up.

Diesel fuel was another thing to deal with. We had loaned two of our jerry jugs full of diesel to Far Niente in Mag Bay. This saved them the tremendous hassle of having to go to the city of San Carlos to get fuel. They would have had to check into the country there. Instead of charging money, we just asked that they return them full in Cabo. I'm thankful that's the deal we made because of the hassle getting fuel. There were horror stories coming from people that used the one fuel dock, out close to the harbor breakwater. You had to anchor and then back your boat to the pier and stern tie. Far Niente stated they had arranged for a person to deliver diesel in jugs to their boat, but they never came. Apparently, it used to be OK for the locals to bring diesel to sell to the cruisers for a 50 cents per gallon markup. The authorities had just put a stop to it. Because I'm normally up before dawn, I was approached on my way back from the bathroom on shore by a man selling diesel fuel. He and his partner would bring it right to my boat and siphon it into my fuel tank. I mentioned my wife was still asleep and the berth was next to the deck plate and could he come back later. He stated the marina only let them do it at night because there was lots of traffic in the day and the dust and all. Hmmmm... He would charge $90 dollars for 40 gallons. $1.50 per gallon plus the service charge. The other option was take jugs to the Pemex station about a mile up the main street from the marina. Far Niente had rented a car and made several trips, including returning our jugs full. We believed there was an actual fuel dock in La Paz. Since it was about 160 miles away and we still had 50 gallons including our 4 jugs, we decided to just walk to the Pemex station with two of our jugs in our folding cart to get 11 more gallons. They charged us about 1.02 per gallon. If you need more, the Coast Chandlery would loan you a large cart.

Getting and sending email was an interesting challenge. I discussed this with Fred Wings as well. Since I'm mentioning two Fred's in this dialog, I will use sur names, which in this cruising community is more often your vessel name than your real one. (Remember that when naming your new boat.) Fred thought about getting Mexican cellular service but found out the coverage was only in and very close to the major cities, such as Cabo. Once you get north of the airport, it goes away. He had looked for a phone to use, checking hotel's etc., and finally got through using the fax line at the Broken Surfboard. Other people had had difficulty getting a connection there, but he used a phone number in San Francisco that worked. I remembered I still had AOL numbers for San Diego so I packed up my computer to head for the Broken Surf Board. Fred had given me the AOL access numbers in Mexico, Tijuana = 66861372 (14.4 Sprintnet). Warez (?) = 16293200. Pueblo = 22311922. Guadalajara = 38270590 and Mexico City = 56289393. I wasn't clear the phone system yet and since the closest AOL site was Guadalajara, I decided to use the San Diego number.

Phil guided me to the fax machine but was unclear on how to actually provide this service. He thought about charging the same for a fax, but that was $4 for the first page and $2 for each additional. I mentioned I have it programmed to call USA direct and bill my credit card. He agreed to $1.50 as the service fee to connect to USA direct. He asked me if other people did this, how would he know they were actually billing it to their credit card. I guess you would just have to look over their shoulder, like you are doing to mine. He just didn't feel comfortable providing a service where he had to look over people's shoulders, especially when he was not there all of the time. He felt OK about me but we discussed an alternative. There is a place down the road called BajaTech. They sell various kinds of electronic equipment. The wife takes care of the bread and butter business such as TV's and satellite dishes but the husband is excited about the internet. He has a vision of being Cabo's Internet kingpin, whatever that means. They have hired a young computer guy from Seattle to be their on site guru. I mentioned a good service to the cruisers would be to have a flyer with all of the details on how it worked at BajaTech. Meanwhile the line kept crashing and after 5 connections to USA direct, I succeeded in getting and sending my email, but failed to upload the files to my web site. I paid Phil the $7.50 and decided to try BajaTech later after I read my new mail.

We decided to try BajaTech on our way to the Pemex station because it was directly across the street. Marsha wanted to log in too, since it had been six weeks since she had last checked mail. My how time flies. We found Banamex on the way so we decided to cash some traveler's checks. I waited outside with the cart full of diesel jugs and after a while, Marsha came out to let me know it would be a while because there were 6 people in front of her. I mentioned I would go on ahead and try to get it figured out. She could meet me there. I saw their sign on a post with others and walked into the first storefront. I'm looking for the Internet Cafe. The woman at the desk didn't speak great English so she went back to the lab to get one of the guys. I explained to him I needed a phone line to get logged into AOL so I could get my email. I didn't know any local numbers in Cabo so I would call San Diego and bill it to my credit card. He had to think and went back to the lab to get another guy how spoke better English. He said no problem, had me put my cart behind one of the front office desks, and cleared a space for my computer on one of the tables. There were JAVA and HTML books laying on the table, they were busy working on their own web page. They both went away and a few minutes later, I see a phone line coming over the wall from another room. The first guy sat down with me and believing he could get access through a local number, started messing with my setup file. The sign on screen didn't believe what he programmed in was a phone number so he started flipping through other menus. About this time, Marsha comes in and tells me, Steve, BajaTech is next door. I saved my preferences, unplugged my machine, grabbed the cart and said, Excuse me. They laughed, no harm done. That's a good example of how friendly we found the Mexican people to be.

We also had to reprovision the boat. Except for the last two Dorado fillets and three Bonito steaks, the freezer was empty. Well, there was the two ice trays full of ice. We did learn the freezer can make ice. It takes two days and only if the trays are in the bottom. We were out of breads, though we used every slice of the Bimbo bread we bought in Turtle Bay. Great preservatives. It reminds you of Wonder bread. Except for several of those great small juicy limes you get in Mexico, we were out of fresh produce. We still had a couple cases of Budwiser, but I wanted to save that to trade for lobsters. You can get Budwiser in the cities but in the small villages, they usually only have Tacate available. We also needed more Cokes and fruit juices. Fred mentioned hearing about better prices for Tequila at some of the markets further down Morelos street but we opted to go to the main Super Mercado located at Cabo's main intersection. We had joined Wings for dinner earlier, each supplying our own cheeseburgers. I bought ours at the Super Mercado, Judy had picked up theirs at a small carne (meat) mercado down the road. Fred kept complaining about how the meat looked and smelled funny. Ours was just like it was from Lucky's or Safeway or any supermarket in the USA, which is what the super mercado was like. We found we could get just about anything we could in the US, though not all of the same brands. The US brands they did have were considerably more expensive than local ones, so we started trying new things. Though we didn't buy any, they had an extensive selection of wines starting at 43 pesos a bottle and up. They did have Budwiser, and a good selection of Mexican beers. The deli and meat counter had all kinds of cheese's and meats that looked fresh and cut just like back home, which certainly hadn't been the case in Turtle Bay. The vegetables looked good, and they had a great selection of peppers. We selected a few to add to the quesodias we were starting to enjoy as an easy lunch on board. Our total bill for the main trip was 756 pesos, or about $100, and it just fit in our cart. This was about what I would expect to pay in the US for the same load.

I window shopped at the marine supply stores. Comparing prices for some items on the new list that was growing, I could see the price markup was at least 30% (over normally inflated boat stuff prices). We decided Cabo was not the place to stock up on anything but essentials, but to wait until we got to La Paz to see what we could expect, then ask our friends coming down to bring anything we couldn't get. I did break down and bought a 50 foot chunk of line to replace the worn line on my whisker pole.

With the VHF fixed, boat clean and well provisioned, and clean laundry and bodies, we were set to continue on to La Paz for a Thursday departure. Except for the fact the La Paz harbor was closed because of bad weather. Because of a high pressure system sitting over Utah, the Santa Ana's were still blowing, unusually late in the season. WINGS had left for Puerto Vallarta on Tuesday, I think they beat the system. We were hearing stories of people encountering 40 - 55 knot winds and turning back for the next 3 days. I was discussing the weather with my neighbor at the dock one evening. He was a single hander from Alaska on a boat named Eskimo. In the middle of the conversation, a gentleman hollered over to us from the dock across the channel. He wanted to know more about the weather forecast. He was skippering the vessel Amazing Grace, a Spencer 53 with a 105 HP engine. He had gotten half way to Las Frailes, the first anchorage on the way up to La Paz, 45 miles northeast. He stated he had to turn back because he wasn't making any headway and was getting pounded. Eskimo stated his engine was 16 HP and that was where he was going, but he was staying put. And that's just what we did.

By now, the last of the Canadian group of boats had all arrived. Raindance II and Shelena were now tied up to the fuel dock with us. Each day they would ask us when we were leaving and we would say manana. They were all staying in Cabo through the holidays, with relatives, mostly children flying down. A number of their companion boats were stuck out in the anchorage because the marina was full. The northerly weather system was making it extremely uncomfortable out there. What can I say, this marina doesn't limit the number of days you want to spend $1 per foot, and we were here first. By now, I had figured out that if I move the boom twice a day to remove the shadow from the solar panels, I didn't need to run the engine to replenish my batteries. The wind generator was only contributing a little because the harbor is protected, but it was very sunny and we were breaking even on energy. So Friday, Marsha, Cindy and I jumped into the dinghy and headed out to Lovers Beach for snorkeling and playing surf ball with the dog.

Lovers Beach is a great place to visit. It is located almost midway between the arch and the end of the rocks that form the tip of the Baja peninsula, and Cabo, but closer to the arch. There is a cut in the rocks so the sandy beach extends from the ocean to the bay, so you can walk in the sand to the ocean. The surf on the inside was mild, so we had no problem beaching the dinghy. Nearby is a great snorkeling spot. There is a cliff that extends down about 1000 feet that creates a perfect environment for plankton to breed and live, thus the beginning of a food chain. Lots of fish. The water is clear and lukewarm. It is coming around from the Pacific Ocean. About half of the people swimming had light wet suits on. I didn't but was OK. I most likely would have stayed in longer if I was wearing mine though. Cindy was the princess of the beach because she was the only dog. Most of the people coming out were tourists coming by water taxi. There were only a few cruisers. Picking up the dog's ball, throwing it in the water, and watching it figure out how to retrieve it without getting dumped on by a breaking wave was good fun for everyone. Cindy loved it but got pretty tired. She would sleep well for the next two days.

The news on Saturday's Cabo VHF net was the weather system was finally breaking. Several boats, including PAX, decided to go for it. We had some remaining chores to do and wanted to get an early start when we did leave so we got busy getting the boat ready to leave the next day. We were done in time to enjoy one last meal and margarita at the broken surfboard before saying goodby to Cabo San Lucas. We ran into the couple from Amazing Grace at the gate, Dorothy and Bob were also planning on leaving at about 5:30 am the next morning. Eskimo had made one attempt after Amazing Grace but had to turn back. He was still in the anchorage. He had heard my departure announcement on the net and hailed me later to discuss buddy boating to Las Frailes. Time for a good night's sleep and early to rise.

Continued, December 29, 1996

We are now anchored in beautiful Puerto Balandra, the northern most anchorage in the Pichilingue Area of Bahia de La Paz. The city of La Paz is approximately 12 miles further down the bay and into the Canal de La Paz. Before leaving Cabo San Lucas, we strongly considered aborting our plan to head north instead opting for another overnighter crossing the Sea of Cortez to the mainland. We had listened to many of the cruisers we had met so far talk about their plans to go this route because it is warmer further south and the Sea of Cortez has strong northerly winds in the winter. The winds die down and the weather warms up in the Sea of Cortez in the springtime. As we continued to hear dockside stories about someone registering 55 knots on their nose and having to turn back from a La Paz bound course, these thoughts of changing our course turned into conversations. More information came to us that these winds were not the normal case this late in the year. They were the Santa Ana's caused by a high pressure system sitting over Utah. Normally, the Santa Ana's are finished by early November. When a window of good weather for heading north finally came, we stepped through it.

PAX was a day ahead of us and Nomotos had taken off the night before with a plan to go straight to La Paz. We untied the dock lines at 5:20 AM before any hint of daylight had appeared to help guide the way out of the dark harbor. We were ahead of most of the sports fisherman on their quests to catch marlin. Usually, by 5:30, there is a well lit parade of their boats leaving single file. I raised Amazing Grace on the VHF, they were about a half hour behind us. Radar and a spotlight got us out of the harbor and underway under the stars and Eskimo raised me to say he was leaving the anchorage just behind us. As dawn came and the sun came up, Amazing Grace was passing us making about 1 knot faster than we were. Eskimo was falling further behind doing about 1 knot less. I ended up staying in contact with both on the radio all day, passing weather updates from Amazing Grace to Eskimo. The wind did pick up after a while, slowing everyone down by one knot. SPIRIT was doing about 5. The we got over the Gordo Banks off of Punta Gordo and the shallower 30 to 70 fathom water past them. The water became very choppy in this area. At times, SPIRIT would slow down to 1 - 2 knots over ground. Looking back, it would have been well advised to go further offshore to avoid this shallow area. I hailed back to Eskimo, Rick stated he knew better and didn't know why he went through it either. Once we got back into 100+ fathoms of water, the water became smoother and we were back up to making between 5 - 6 knots. The northern winds were beginning to ease up so we were back to making way.

PAX could here our conversation on the radio and hailed me to update us on their plans. Since they had things that needed to be fixed on their boat, they had chose not to spend any time in Los Frailes and way anchor bound for a haul out in La Paz. They were going to go through the night if the weather held, and wouldn't be stopping in Bahia de Los Muertos. Another vessel, Allegrea hailed me at one point pegging me as the net controller. It's skipper stated he had been listening to our conversation, I advised him to avoid the shallow water past Punta Gordo. They were sailing up and hadn't reached that point yet, he needed to tack and would head out to avoid it. The wind gradually eased and by the time we pulled into the anchorage at Los Frailes at 2:30 in the afternoon, it was down to a level of 4 to 7 knots. The sunshine was warm so things were quite pleasant. Bob and Dorothy on Amazing Grace was already anchored, we positioned ourselves to their right, close to where the sand met the rock at the end of the point. This is where Charlie's Charts said the least amount of surf was for landing a dinghy.

I quickly got the inflatable dinghy in the water because we had stowed it on the bow, upside down, still inflated. It seemed to ride OK there and I still had room to work the halyards at the mast and deal with the anchoring system. This made Cindy very happy. I put on the small outboard, loaded the oars, cushions, and Cindy bag and we were on the beach in minutes. Charlie's Charts stated once we made it north of this point, the swells from the Pacific and the resulting breaking surf on the beaches would be gone. I made it through just fine, but looking back while on the beach, I saw huge waves breaking occasionally. They were much bigger than the ones that dumped Marsha and Cindy in Santa Maria. They would come and go, so it was just a matter of timing to get through and back to Spirit.

Amazing Grace hailed us with an invitation for an afternoon cerveza, so Marsha and I and the wet doggy piled back in the dinghy to go visit. Their 51' Spencer was huge. Bob had built the boat from the hull up. It felt solid as a rock and extremely comfortable. They welcomed Cindy aboard even though she was still wet from the beach. They had two dogs and felt it would be too much to handle bringing them along, so they found a good home for them, and were now missing them. They had picked up a young crew member in Cabo, Steve. He was a dive instructor and had swam to shore to climb the rock on the point. They were worrying because they thought he should have been back by now. I suspected he went for a hike past the point to Cabo Pulmo. Cabo Pulmo has the only living coral reef in the Sea of Cortez. It has three large veins shaped something like a Y. Among many other fishes in abundant quantities, several variety of sharks breed there. Many underwater video's are shot in this location because of it's beauty. Bob asked me if it got close to dark, would I come back to take him to shore so he could go hunting for Steve with a flashlight. Not a problem, but I suspected he was worrying like a parent, without cause. We made our way back to Spirit to relax in the cockpit, enjoy the remaining sunshine, and watch Eskimo and Allegrea enter the anchorage with one third of our journey to La Paz safely completed.

The next morning shortly after 9:00 while we were rigging the wind generator and listening to the Baja Net on the single side band radio, the wind speed started increasing from 5 knots to about 15. We got the generator up and were cranking out the amps. The wind speed continued to build. Amazing Grace had left at dawn, but a couple of other sailboats had come into the anchorage after dark, Honey Slide and Saganetti. Because the wind was so strong, most people stayed on their boats all day. Marsha started reading a book while I started working on projects that had been accumulating in the project bag. This is how the rest of the day went. There was conversation on the channel 22 Los Frailes net, as Jean from Allegrea named it based on the regular dialog between Rick and I. Marsha came up with a suggestion and I factored it into the thinking of the others listening, tomorrow is Christmas eve, how about a pot luck party on the beach? Just about everyone piped in with Great idea, I've got a canned ham, etc.

The next morning, Christmas Eve, the wind was still blowing strong and we were happy to see after almost two days, we were generating all of the energy we needed. Our batteries were still topped off without having to run the engine. I remembered this day was the 5th anniversay of my donating our old sailboat, Moonshot, to charity and making the final offer that was accepted to buy SPIRIT. I decided to try getting Cindy to shore through the windy chop with the small engine. To my surprise, it worked fine. As we got closer to shore, the effect of the wind eased because of the protection of the sandy hills along the beach. While on shore, I spoke with two different men, not together, but both from San Francisco. They had been snorkeling around the rocks just past the end of the beach. They stated it was great, many types of fish, caves, etc. I still didn't know how long we would be staying at this beautiful anchorage, but I knew I had to see that before we left. I went back to SPIRIT to drop off Cindy and pick up Marsha. Because it was calmer near shore, we would have no problem motoring near shore to the Hotel Los Frailes a mile down the beach. Before we got back in the dinghy, Allegrea hailed us on the VHF. He wanted to let me know their crew of 4 was still interested in a shore party this evening, and also wanted to know if we had found out anything about the possibility of Christmas dinner at the hotel on shore. I replied with we're still interested in the shore party and on our way to the hotel now to get the details. Roger that.

It was much easier landing the dinghy near the hotel, one mile down the huge sandy beach, past the group of fishermen's pangas and the tourist campsites that were laden with different colored ocean kayaks. We walked over 100 yards in the fine white sand to get to the hotel, which consisted of 4 bungalows and a main building on the end that was the restaurant and owners living quarters. There was a hose to wash our feet at the entrance gate. The gate's automatic closing mechanism consisted of wooden pulleys on the gates pivot point and over an opening in the stone fence with a rock tied to the end of the line running through the pulleys. When the gate was opened, the rock would lift and when you let go of the gate, the weight of the rock would close the gate. Pretty clever, we went in. We could see people in the restaurant through the sliding glass doors across from the patio. A woman inside waved us to the entrance. There were a couple and a young man discussing something at the central table over a couple bottles of Contreau, and an amply stocked bar past the Christmas tree. All of the decorations as well as the furniture looked smart. Intriguing but not over done. We ordered a couple of margaritas.

The woman informed us they make them strong, with Jose Cuervo Gold Tequila, Contreau, and fresh squeezed lime juice. They keep them mixed in the freezer so they stay cold and don't melt ice cubes as fast, but we were free to have more ice if needed. She asked if we were interested in a meal. I stated we were interested in information about Christmas dinner. Some friends of ours had stayed here for a few days a year ago. They stated the food here was great. We were asking on behalf of several of the yachts in the harbor, is there a capacity problem? She left us to print out the Christmas menu while her husband came over to our table to talk to us.

The couple's name is Ellie and Wayne Siefman. The Hotel Bahia Los Frailes has been open for 4 years. He used to fly his own plane down to the Baja peninsula for sport fishing and had been just about anywhere you could land a plane. A friend of his had bought a piece of property where there was no landing strip which made him curious. After investigating, he liked the spot and bought a piece of property as well. Then another, and another to the point now he owned the land behind the entire beach, including the big hill at the point by the anchorage. As he was pointing his finger towards the center of the gorgeous view out the window towards the hill, he mentioned something about the people camping on the beach being squatters. But by Mexican law, all beaches on the coast are open to the public. I think that's a great law. After talking with Wayne about what we were up to, Ellie came back with the menu. She stated the capacity for turkey was limited by the fact she had one 23 pound turkey. If there were more people, she could stuff and bake a chicken. It would help to make reservations early so we made ours as soon as we read the menu:

Christmas Dinner - December 25, 1996

Per Person - $21.50 U.S. Dollars

  • Cheddar - Artichoke Appetizer
  • Roast Turkey with Stuffing
  • Mashed Potatoes with Gravy
  • Fresh Vegetable
  • Waldorf Salad
  • Fresh Orange - Cranberry Sauce
  • Homemade Italian Bread/Rolls
  • Homemade Pumpkin Pie
  • Homemade Vanilla Ice Cream

    As we ordered another delicious margarita, Wayne asked me if we were interested in lunch today. They had just got a fresh batch of shrimp from a fishing boat and their cook was whipping up an excellent sauté. While he went of to take care of our order, Ellie offered to show us the hotel's room layout. We strolled along a cactus and yucca adorned path to the bungalows. There were four identical doubles. One side was a single room with 2 queen size beds and a bath. The other side was a one bedroom suite, with a sitting room, bedroom and bath. Each of the sitting rooms had the gorgeous view of the bay. There was a door from the sitting room to the other single room in case a group wanted the entire bungalow. The rates were either $90, $110, or $100 per person depending on the configuration. The price included meals, but not taxes and 10% gratuity. The doors and headboards were all hand carved in their wood shop. The headboards were carved into desert cactus scenes. Their advertisement flyer reads: Located just below the Tropic of Cancer on the Sea of Cortez, Hotel Bahia Los Frailes lies 30 miles northeast of Los Cabos. Here in the East Cape region, you'll find the best fishing in all of Baja in an area that extends from the Gordo Banks, 20 miles south of Los Frailes to the Buena Vista area, 25 miles to the north. Swimming, diving, and snorkeling are unsurpassed in the Los Frailes area of Baja. 700-feet deep Los Frailes Bay is protected from the November through April northern winds by Los Frailes Mountain. The warm water temperature and very gentle surf make for perfect swimming conditions almost year round. The northernmost living coral reef in the eastern Pacific grows in five to forty feet of water in the next bay to the north called Cabo Pulmo which is designated as underwater park by the Mexican government (no taking of fish or shellfish of any kind allowed). Here, diving and snorkeling are superior. They also rent pangas including a skipper for $150/Deluxe or $175/Super per day. Their contact information is: Hotel Bahia Los Frailes, Apartado Postal 230, San Jose Del Cabo, Baja California Sur, Mexico, 011-52-114-10122.

    Wayne was bringing our lunch to the table as we got back from the tour. He commented, I notice you beached your dinghy over here, do you have Charlie's Charts? Yes, he stated the place to land a dinghy is over by the rock, but we tried it here anyway, seemed OK. He stated, Yeah, I know. Charlie's wrong, that's the worse place because there are rogue waves. Most of the yachties that come here walk the mile down the beach with wet pants. Sailors be warned, I guess Wayne should know, it's his beach. The shrimp was absolutely delicious, as was the third margarita. On our way back to the dinghy, we started collecting firewood for tonight's beach party.

    We made our way back to the boat, whipped up some baked beans for the pot luck, collected Cindy, picked up Rick and picked a location on shore that looked best suited for a bonfire. Rick on Eskimo had asked me to find out if a panga driver would serve as a taxi for a couple of bucks. I didn't have the opportunity but figured we could give him a ride if he didn't want to deploy his dinghy. Following right behind us was the crew from Saganetti. Their dinghy was crammed full of firewood collected on their earlier beach excursion. Soon, the people from Allegrea and Honey Slide showed up and with all dinghies safely beached out of the surf, the men started foraging for more firewood before dark. It turned out to be a great party. One of those spontaneous things. One thing we all had in common was it was Christmas Eve and we probably would have been in La Paz by now if it hadn't been for the Northerly winds picking up as they had. This was the first beach bonfire I had enjoyed in the wild since we lived on Michigan's Great Lakes many years ago. Dinner consisted of canned ham, canned salmon from Alaska, a noodle dish, baked beans

    I woke up Christmas morning to find the wind had died. It was flat calm. Taking advantage of the window, Allegrea hoisted his anchor at the break of dawn. I raised Eskimo on the VHF to discuss the two sides of the coin, Allegrea's or the fact that with the calm weather, we could really start to enjoy this place. We both opted to stay longer. I spent the morning snorkeling on the rocks at the end of the beach. It was great snorkeling. The kind where you keep going, and as long as you feel like staying in the water, you keep seeing new kinds of fish and sea life. I saw a gazillion kinds of fish, an octopus, and many kinds of corals. I didn't run across any eels or turtles though. The spot was so good, I had to go back again. The day just stayed sunny and calm, so we spent the afternoon soaking up rays in the cockpit while listening to soft Christmas music cassette tapes recorded from San Francisco's KKSF radio station some years prior. I raised Hotel Los Frailes on VHF channel 7, which they monitor, to reconfirm our reservations for dinner and to let them know the vessel with 4 people decided to leave. I noticed Rick had gotten to shore and had a long walking tour of the entire beach. It was beach all of the way to the opposite point to the south, I estimated about 3 miles of it. He was having some problems with his dinghy motor, so I agreed to taxi tonight as well. After getting cleaned up we were discussing on the way to the hotel for dinner that this had been the best Christmas day any of us can recall having in years. Not to say anything good or bad about it, we had entirely missed the commercial Christmas experience that was the norm back home. X shopping days left, starting from before Thanksgiving, the barrage of catalogs in the mail, the advertisements on TV, and the hectic crowds doing their last minute shopping. I just hope our relatives aren't too upset with us about not receiving anything or not even hearing from us. Our plan was to make some nice Christmas cards once we got to La Paz to mail them in time. Our next plan was to at least make phone calls from the Hotel, but when we asked if they had a pay phone, they just kind of laughed.

    This Christmas dinner was a fine one. We commingled with the guests of the hotel while enjoying the Christmas music and decorations, and listening to their fishing stories. Two boys in their late teens or early twenties were fascinated to listen to our stories about a lifestyle at sea. The evening had a strong finish enjoying Hondouran cigars from Wayne's humidor, sitting in the rocking chairs on the patio while watching the almost full moon rise and swapping more fish stories. Yes, my freezer, being powered by my wind generator, is still stocked with Tuna steaks and Dorado fillets, ya te ya te ya ta... The fishermen here were really keen to catch a marlin before leaving.

    We still didn't leave the next day either. Though the wind still hadn't picked back up, it was overcast, so the idea of snorkeling didn't seem as much fun. We tried fishing on light tackle from the boat and after catching one small green jack, then loosing a hook, leader, and sinker with something bigger, I outfitted the light duty pole that was handy with 30# test line. While I was spray painting the kerosene anchor light, Marsha reeled in a big funny looking fish. I put it in the too small pail of sea water while she looked up what it could be in Gar Goodson's Fishes of the Pacific Coast. It didn't have an edibility rating for this Trigger fish we had on board. The book states edibility ratings are included for fish that usually make their way to the table. We took this to be a bad sign so I threw him back. I fear this may have been a mistake because later we read in the Baja Catch the following comment about Trigger fish: Stay with it. You'll find that the effort of filleting them is paid back in full when you taste their firm large-grained white meat. It has slightly chewy texture like that of lobster tail with a hint of crab flavor. Excellent for civiche or seafood cocktail. Bummer!

    While Rick from Eskimo and I were walking on the beach soaking up the scenery, a large power boat pulls into the anchorage near our boats. This one was huge, making the large megayachts berthed in the marina at Cabo San Lucas look like little plastic toys. As it's transom swung around, we could see the heliport with a large helicopter resting on it's stern. Rick and I split up, he towards the hotel and I back to SPIRIT. Later the people from the large power boat came by SPIRIT in their dinghy, a couple with their son. The seemed nice enough. They are from Seattle. They asked about our cruising plans. Their son wanted to know what we thought about cruising with a dog. I told him, well, coming down there were times she would hold it for up to 70 hours, then go on deck. But if there's a dinghy in the water, she insists that I take her to shore. She makes a good watch dog and a good companion. I made the statement to the skipper, Nice Boat. He said, Thanks, then motored on through the anchorage to look at the other sail boats. Rick hailed me on the VHF a bit later to say he had a chance to talk with the same people on shore at the hotel. The statistics he reported were that the boat was 164 feel long and originally costs $30 million to build, not including the helicopter. It cost 10% of that per year to maintain it. They had several full time crew members. The vessel traveled comfortably at 30 knots. I wondered if they had to sell their house and cars and quit their jobs to make this trip. Probably not. I was recently reading in Latitude 38's Loose Lips column about the increasing demand for these yachts. The builders are overbooked. If you ordered one today, you couldn't take delivery until the year 2000. They talked about one Saudi Arabian cruiser that pulled into a marina in the south of France. He couldn't get a slip because the marina was full, so he flew into shore and bought the marina for $5 million. You see all kinds of lifestyles out here.

    We finally got under way at 5:00 am the following morning, 5 days later. Though the prices at the hotel were steep, we still managed to stay within our budget for the time we were there. Because of the wind in the generator and the solar panels, we did not have to run the engine to charge the batteries the entire time. This made us feel good about the engineering work we had invested in SPIRIT's electrical system. The entire system consists of 9.8 Amps max. rating total of the 5 solar panels, the wind generator that converts to a trolling generator, a 105 Amp high output alternator on the engine, and Ample Power regulation components consisting of a Smart Regulator, an Eliminator to charge the starter battery from the house banks, and a Bank Manager II energy monitor that provides information about the Amp Hours consumed and remaining in the house banks, and the voltage levels of all three. We upgraded the batteries from lead acid liquid to gel. There are two 4D house batteries for a total capacity of 350 Amp Hours, and a separate starter battery that is only used for starting the engine. I installed all of the equipment, which involved rewiring the primary ground system, and increasing the total amount of wiring on board considerably. When we had the spars pulled and painted two years ago, I had all of the wiring in the main mast replace, including adding a spare wire set to the top for the yet to be invented gadget. In case you were questioning, an Amp Hour is the amount of energy it takes to run an appliance that consumes 1 amp, such as this Macintosh Powerbook Duo 280C, for one hour.

    Continued: January 13, 1997

    It was a perfect morning for getting a pre dawn start. Only the larger primary stars were visible appearing something like a connect the dots coloring book. There was no dew so the decks were dry. It was warm, almost balmy so we needed no extra clothing layers other than what we had been wearing the night before. Our destination for this days run was Ensenada de los Muertos. This destination was 47 miles from Los Frailes, and 55 miles before La Paz. This daysail would have us ending up two thirds of the way to La Paz from Cabo and back on the anchor well before sunset. Eskimo left the same time as us so we remained in radio contact along the way. Watching the beautiful sunrise after we were well offshore and under way was the biggest event of the day. We didn't get to sail this day, but fortunately the wind never picked up so we didn't have to face the wind and choppy seas it would bring. We saw a few jelly fish drifting by but no fish bit my leur all day. The other big event of the day was watching the large power boat from our anchorage steam by around 11:00. Rick warned us via VHF because we ahead of him about the large wake it was leaving. Still, I've never been tossed about that much by any other stink pot's wake. We were able to take advantage of the hot water being heated by the engine's heat exchanger to wash the dishes that had accumulated and take showers. We were anchored in the anchorage by 2:00 in the afternoon.

    Our plan was to not stay in Los Muertos long, just overnight to rest and get another early start the next morning to save time for a prettier anchorage near La Paz, then get into La Paz before New Year's Eve. The appearance of Muertos was uninviting. The low, narrow beach was cluttered with pongas, RV's and campers. The scraggely, cactus laden rocks were plain compared to much of the intense coastal scenery we were getting used to seeing. The Boating Guide to Mexico stated no water exists here, so no villages have survived. Yup, a good place to rest up in and leave behind. That is what we did, but later learned there is a French chef with a couple of thatch umbrellas on the other end of the beach that has been surving up delicious meals each day. There is also trash removal service, fresh water delivered in, and a fresh produce truck that hangs out each day. We were hanging our trash bags in a net bag over the stern rail and were very low on fresh produce.

    It might have been worth a day to stay, but we were underway the next morning by 6:00. We would have left earlier but something fouled in the anchor chair retrieval system. It hung up several times while trying to pull the chain in. I had to keep letting more out to try to unclog the tube the chain feeds through to the bilge. SPIRIT's anchoring system is unique. We've heard people talking about it being a good idea, but still haven't run across another yacht that was outfitted this way. The electric windlass is in the bilge at the center of the boat. There is a system of PVC tubes with bow rollers installed at each bend that route the 400 feet of 3/8 chain up to the anchor on the bow pulpit roller. The gypsy on the manual windlass at the bow serves as a turning block for the chain routing. I can also use the manual windlass for manual assist when breaking the anchor free from a firm holding ground in case the electric windlass can't cut it free. There is a foot switch at the bow to turn the electric windlass on and off. This was all installed on SPIRIT by previous owners. I enhanced the system by adding a washdown pump that connects to a 50 foot flatline water hose that feeds through through the deck plate opening into the now empty anchor chain locker in the bow.

    Continued January 18, 1997

    This day's voyage would provide more interesting things to see and do. The destination for the day's journey was Puerto Ballandra, the northern most of three anchorages available after passing through the Canal De San Lorenzo and heading south into Bahia De La Paz. We would have to round Punta Arena de la Ventana, then travel through the Canal Cerralvo between the Baja Peninsula and Isla Cerralvo to get there. The days journey would be about 45 miles, and leave us with 12 miles remaining before arriving in La Paz. It would be the last long day before arriving at our destination. Charlie's Charts stated Puerto Ballandra is a very pretty cove that opens to the east. The rocky arms encircle a brilliant white, sandy beach, with several smaller, inviting beaches tucked into smaller niches. The Boating Guide to Mexico included a picture of a mushroom shaped rock there and discussed it as a great snorkeling spot. The anchoring spot was close to the mushroom rock between the two north beaches, in 3 fathoms. Our plan was to spend a day or two there enjoying the pleasures of the anchorage before making it into La Paz in time for New Year's Eve.

    As we made the approach to Punta Arena and daylight was well under way, a breeze picked up from the west, not on our bow. One by one I raised the sails, and we were moving. I actually got to shut the engine off. We were making 6-1/2 knots, in the direction we wanted to go, for almost and hour. I had difficulty remembering when it had last been that we had been sailing. It was a great feeling not listening to the engine, flowing through the breeze and water, breathing the fresh air in the quiet while watching the sunrise, knowing we were almost within a stone's through of the destination we had been pursuing for almost 3 months. We were close enough to La Paz over the hill that I was picking up bits and pieces of the morning La Paz cruisers VHF net on the radio. But, the wind died and with no signs of it being temporary, I started the engine and proceeded to put the sails back away. We still had to get the mileage behind us. Though Eskimo had a head start on us today because of the anchor chain glitch, by the time we were rounding Punta Coyote, we were the point boat in the lead. It was time to navigate the tricky Canal De San Lorenzo.

    There were supposed to be two buoys marking the narrow channel between the Peninsula and Isla Del Espiritu Santo. It seemed like a simple enough task making the touchdown between the goal posts, but as we rounded the point, there were illusions. The vessel traffic heading north from La Paz or east made it easy to spot one of the buoys, but the second evaded us. We decided to pass on the outside to the right of the one we saw, but as we got close to making it through, the fish finder's depth sounder headed straight up. Within seconds, we went from 30 feet to 10 feet and it was still climbing. We stopped the boat, then turned around. While Marsha backtracked our GPS plot, I studied the charts and with the radar giving me distances from land, I was able to fix our location on the chart. We turned back around but headed further north towards Espiritu Santo, then made the approach again, slowly, passing the marker much further to our left. Once we made it through the shallow channel, I studied the radar further. There was an absolutely clear picture of the point, the island, and the two channel markers. This one would have been much easier to navigate through at night without the painted desert's mirages. Knowing it's position on the radar screen, I was able to spot the second channel marker. Though it was only half way to the Island, it appeared very close to it's shore and colored similar to the rest of the backdrop scenery. I hailed Eskimo on the radio and discussed our experience, he turned on his radar and proceed to follow our course.

    With SPIRIT back at cruising speed, Punta Ballandra was now very close, so I consulted with Jack William's' Baja Boater's Guide for further information. He stated, Puerto Ballandra is the site of the well-photographed mushroom-shaped rock that adorns advertisements and other publications concerning the La Paz area. Sadly, the rock fell, or was pushed over about 1990. Its fallen hulk is still a good landmark for the anchorage. (Should you have an old copy of the Baja Sea Guide, be aware that the location of the mushroom rock and the size of the usable water area are badly represented on its chart). Bummer, I was looking forward to seeing the mushroom rock. The copyright date for the Boating Guide to Mexico was 1995, I just figured it must take a while to collect and publish all of the information. We had now entered Mooring's territory, we could tell because the waters were now dinghy towing flat. I also consulted with the cruising guide to the Sea of Cortez we had picked up during our Moorings Charter out of Puerto Escondido 8 years ago. It read, Puerto Ballandra is easily identified by its many pristine beaches and small rocky island just off the mangroves at the head of the bay. The north shore of the cove features three perfect white sandy beaches separated by huge granite boulders about 50 feet high. As the shoreline curves south and west, more sandy beaches come into view, sloping into the light emerald green of the shallow water. The high rugged mountains to the west, clad in pastel reds, add drama to this magnificent scene. It didn't seem to matter that I hadn't caught any fish on the way up. We've made it, lets get this ship anchored and break out the snorkeling gear!

    As we made the approach to the anchorage, we could see one other boat with it's hook already set. It appeared near a rocky point that to me, seemed like it could have one day been a mushroom rock, so we got ready to set our hook. When Marsha got the boat stopped, I started hauling on the chain to drop the CQR, but it wouldn't budge. What ever had snagged the system while retrieving the chain this morning was back and now it wouldn't let me get it out. We had to head back out to make another pass while I got the Bruce anchor ready to deploy. Though I felt it was ready to go to work, we had not used it yet so this was a live experiment. Once back in the spot clear and to the left of the first boat, I dropped the Bruce. No problem. It has 30 feet of 3/8 chain, and 250' of 5/8 line. The anchor and chain dropped easily, then the line paid out with no effort at all. What a breeze compared to the all chain system. We got the hook set, then Eskimo pulled in further to our left and by mid afternoon, we were all three standing in the sunshine and starting at the emerald green water, the white sandy beaches, the mangroves and granite boulders, and the red pastel clad mountain scene on the other side of Bahia De La Paz. We'd made it, December 28, 1996. I put on my thin lycra wet suit and jumped in the 76 degree water to go have a look at the anchor set.

    Marsha, Cindy, Rick and I went in to the northern most beach, landing the dinghy in the no surf shoreline. The tide was low, so we toured the tide pools teeming with life, different kinds of urchins and anemones. We found what appeared to be a small living coral. There were those kind of crabs with eyeballs on antennas sticking out the top peering at us from their burrows in the sand. It was a beautiful place. I could tell I would have snorkeling around the rocks that separated the beaches tomorrow. This evening, we invited Rick to join us for a celebration dinner. Cleaning out the freezer, we served rum with pineapple juice using up the last of the ice I had made and a special dark rum I'd been saving. We would be serving surf and turf, using the last two steaks and two Dorado fillets that were thawing. I prepared them on the grill because the oven tank had run out of propane in the last anchorage. We had used as much propane in the past 3 months as we had the prior 3 years of weekend boating on San Francisco Bay. I knew that would be enough for any passage we may consider in the future, but that wouldn't be for some time.

    The next morning, I took Marsha and Cindy for a dinghy ride to the next beach further south before snorkeling. As we rounded the rocks, all of a sudden, in plain view, there it was. The mushroom rock. Now I didn't know what to make of any of the cruising guide information. What was it doing still standing? It was supposed to be in view of the anchorage so if this was the same rock, we were not anchored in the right spot. There couldn't be two rocks with this distinct shape if it wasn't mentioned. I beached the dinghy and waded over to get a closer look. There appeared to be mortar plastered along the rocky stem. Hmmm. Later, swimming directly from SPIRIT, I snorkeled around the rocks to the opposite side of the mushroom rock. I notice a bronze looking plaque on the outside base of the rock. I waded in closer to see the plaque read, Dorothy Dewer Crift, 1917 - 1991. It had been rebuilt as a memorial to this woman, whoever she was. I compared it to the picture in the Boating Guide to Mexico, it was now taller with a longer stem. Ah, the natural beauty!

    The wind picked up that afternoon, and the anchorage became rolly that evening, so it was a clear decision to way anchor the next morning. SPIRIT and Eskimo were underway, bound for La Paz by 10:00. We were able to pick up most of the 8:00 AM La Paz net from the anchorage. I announced SPIRIT in the new arrivals section and a vessel named Birdie hailed us with a message. Since they couldn't pick us up, the net controller instructed us to contact Birdie when we got in. As we got closer to the channel entrance, I hailed Marina De La Paz to find slips while Rick raised Marina Palmira. Del La Paz was full but put us on a waiting list. Rick was able to get the last two slips available in Palmira so as we navigated our way through the narrow channel and made our way towards slips 2-04 and 2-06. Rodney and Jane of Azure hollered a Hello SPIRIT from the fuel dock across the channel as we pulled in. While checking in at the marina office, Antonio the attendant stated he could take care of our port clearance for a $22 fee. That took about 5 seconds to think about so I guess I can't call it a no brainer. The daily berth fee was $19.35 Dollars US and we would have to move to another slip when something opened up, but after presenting copies of our vessel documentation, crew list stamped in Cabo, passports, visas, signing the rental agreement and paying the clearance fee and three days rent we were in. We had made it to La Paz 06 and were free to enjoy the warm sun and sip on a cerveza shortly after 2:00 on December 30, 1996.

    Bye for now...

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