Los Frailes to LA PAZ

2008 May 10 – June 4
Los Frailes to LA PAZ

We enjoyed 4 scuba dives over 2 days at Los Frailes marine park. We wanted to stay longer but a local man in a panga told us where we were anchored was not allowed. According to our cruising guide books, both Rains & Cunningham, we were in an allowed anchorage & clearly our anchor was in sand & nowhere near the reef. But having no defense in foreign waters, we left under threat of being reported to the park authorities. It was very sad for us to leave this beautiful dive area sooner than intended.
Jim & Linda of m/v \”Outward Bound\” a 47 foot Nordhaven consoled us with happy hour aboard their lovely yacht.

May 11 – Los Muertos
\”Outward Bound\” was on the same path as we were so we buddy-boated for the next 2 days. It was a beautiful sunrise as we motored away from Los Frailes and we were entertained for an hour by the jumping rays. ***See photo gallery*** The reason for their behavior is a mystery. This article offers some interesting information on mobulas, which are small rays. We believe the species we were watching were \”Golden Cow Nose Rays\”.

Seven hours later we were anchored in Los Muertos. The word muertos here refers \”to the dead-man mooring system\” used in the early 1900s for barges that loaded ore from nearby silver mines. Early guidebooks told of giant buried anchors called \”dead men\” or muertos.\” We read of this tale in The Rains Guide to Mexican Boating. We picked up Jim & Linda in our dinghy for an easy \”wet landing\” on the beach. There were many cars parked right on the beach with families enjoying the calm cove. We enjoyed
dinner at \”The Giggling Marlin\” palapa restaurant. The chile rellenos were delicious.

May 12 – La Paz
We had a sunrise start again for another 7+ hour day motoring to La Paz. The closer we got to La Paz, the hotter it got. It was 100 degrees when we tied up to the fuel dock to take on diesel & check in with the harbor master. Marina Costa Baja is quite new and beautiful. They were very full. They found our reservation, but put us on a dock built for mega-yachts. The power outlet needed to be rewired to fit our power cord. The very friendly dock worker promised to be back in 1 hour. Two hours later
I am literally having a meltdown. I am curled up, in the coolest part of the boat I can find, barely breathing, completely depressed & upset that we had to leave the wonderful idyllic anchorage of 2 nights ago and come to this godforsaken inferno. Scott, initially frustrated by my despair, soon came up with a brilliant solution: start the generator so we could turn on the air conditioner! At least I didn’t feel like I was going to die of heat stroke. We also put up the \”circus tent\”, our additional
awning that helps shade the saloon & galley. Abelardo (the primary dock supervisor), did return eventually and we were able to use shore power instead of the generator. It was the first place we ran the air conditioning all night to sleep. Although the temperature did drop about 25 degrees overnight.

This marina has a couple of features we have not seen elsewhere. 1) They have hard-wired internet connections. They give each boat a cable and modem. Our main laptop would not connect. This is the computer that is the primary for our onboard network. So we had only 1 computer connected to the internet. Sharing a computer is one of the compromises of boating I don’t like, but Scott & I manage to take turns. (Two and a half weeks later we made a Skype call to our network guru Craig Johnson and he
had all 3 laptops on the internet in about 10 minutes!)
2) Holding tank pump out stations on all docks. This is very convenient so it encourages all boats to use their holding tanks instead of flushing directly overboard. Sounds gross, but it is common all over the world. Consequently this marina has fish swimming in crystal clear water all along the docks. Fabulous.

May 13 – Downtown La Paz
We listened to the La Paz radio net in the morning and heard that yesterday was the first 100 degree day they’d had. Lucky us. Fortunately since then it has mostly been in the high 80s to low 90s.

There are 2 other marinas closer to town. Costa Baja is the furthest away and the nicest. Scott knows I love to swim every day I can & they have a great pool, so here we stay. Every 2 hours there is a free shuttle for the 20 min ride to town. We were happy to see Marv & Ardy of s/v Odyssey, our prior buddy-boat as well as John & Sharon of s/v Sunbow that we met in Ensenada (fellow catamaran owners). We all went to a fun lunch spot called Mr. Azucar (Mister Sugar) and enjoyed their great food. While
in town we visited the very well stocked English language bookstore and picked up the newest Sea of Cortez guide by Shawn Breeding and Heather Bansmer. We highly recommend it. We also bought \”Diving and Snorkeling the Sea of Cortez\” by Susan Speck and Bruce Williams which we hope to put to good use all summer.
Right near Marina La Paz where our friends were docked, was the Carey Dive Shop. We decided to gain some local knowledge by diving with them & signed up for 3 tanks on May 15.

May 14 – Clean Boat & m/v \”Speedbird\” Party
Whenever we can hire someone to wash the boat we do. She is a big girl and after being \”at sea\” a few days she gets really crusted with salt. We greatly appreciate boat washers everywhere.

We met Mary Rose and Peter of m/v \”Speedbird\”, another big & beautiful Nordhaven (57 ft) on the shuttle ride to town yesterday. They invited Jim, Linda, Scott & me for happy hour. There were actually several hours of happiness as we swapped stories and enjoyed the abundance of yummy food and beverages. We have a fondness for Nordhavens. Mary Rose and Peter are upsizing to a 64 footer, so Speedbird is for sale. Peter & Scott both looked a bit stunned when I suggested a direct swap of our boat for
theirs, but no deal. That’s ok. We love our \”slow bird\” and with diesel prices going up and up, we hope she will use her own wings instead of just her engines.

May 15 – Carey Divers
There were 2 other divers, 2 snorkelers, the Captain, naturalist and dive instructor in the Carey panga. The intention was to motor 2 hrs to Isla Islotes to dive with the sea lions. One hour into the trip the panga engine quit. The radio didn’t reach the dive shop on shore, but they got through on a cell phone. While waiting for their 2nd panga to come fetch us, we got a tow into Isla Ballena & did a dive. It was great to visit all our fish friends again. Scott took his underwater camera on her maiden
dive. He had the wide angle lens expecting sea lions, so it was frustrating to shoot small fish. But he learned a few things about his digital rig and is determined to learn more & get better results.

All people & dive/snorkel gear & lunch transferred to the working panga, but we had to tow the broken one around. Consequently we didn’t get to the sea lion colony. The next 2 dives were on wreck. First m/v (\”motor vessel\”) Fang Ming. It was a 250 ft fishing vessel that was used to smuggle people from China to the U.S. Mexican officials intercepted it, impounded the boat & returned the people to China. After languishing for 10 yrs, they decided to sink it to create Mexicos’ first artificial reef.
Many fish call Fang Ming home so it came to good use.

The 2nd wreck was the Canonero 59. It was a retired Mexican naval vessel, 150 ft. Also a lovely artificial reef. Despite the air temperature in the high 80s, I was pretty cold going into the 3rd dive with water temps only 75. Scott & I joke about \”therapeutic hypothermia\”. It is wishful thinking that getting cold by being in the water will help you feel cooler for the rest of the day. This day it worked because we had the wind chill factor of the 25 mph, 2 hour panga ride back to our boat. We got
great information about many sites from Matias and Mauro. Mauro is a passionate naturalist who shares our love of marine life. We look forward to diving with Carey Divers again later in the summer.

May 16 – Our 15 Year Wedding Anniversary
Scott asked me what I wanted to do on our special day. One of my favorite activities abroad is going grocery shopping. So we took the free shuttle from marina Costa Baja to Soriana which has just about everything. I stocked up and it took me 5 hrs to \”process\” & stow everything once we were back to the boat with the food. Processing involves things like: removing all cardboard packaging (can harbor cockroach eggs). Putting food into vacuum bags to stay dry & fresh (nuts, grains, tortillas). Taking
the skin & bones off cooked chicken to fit more compact in the fridge & freezer. The highlight find of this shopping trip was Swiss chard. I ate all of it, not sharing one bite with Scott (whose favorite vegetables are peas & corn).

May 18 to 25 – Carmina’s Visit
Thelma Carmina Thompson Robles lived with Scott’s parents for 10 yrs when he went to college. She returned from Guatemala to care for Suzanne when she was ill at the end of her life. We had originally planned to be in Guatemala this year. When we decided to slow down & spend more time in Mexico, Carmina was sad not to see us for so long. So we flew her in to join us for a week in La Paz.

We had 2 glorious days off the dock at Isla Partida. She is not a swimmer, but with a floatation belt, quick lesson on wearing a mask & breathing through a snorkel she was mesmerized by the sea life and we snorkeled together a long time. She did great. Scott went under the boat on scuba & replaced our zincs that protect our propellers, sail drives & fridge/freezer keel coolers. We had a lot of bees seeking fresh water after we rinsed off in the cockpit. They were only thirsty & did not sting us
at all. A panga of fishermen came by also seeking fresh water & we filled their 6 gallon jug.

There was a strong \”Corumel\” (sort of a Santa Ana type wind) that night & the anchorage was very rolly. We decided it was best to return to our marina in La Paz because the prediction was for 3 more days of very strong winds. We went with the wind to visit Isla Islotes, the sea lion rookery we missed with Carey Divers. Then motored down the east side of the island which provided some protection from the wind. When we entered the San Lorenzo Channel the wind was in our face at 25-30 knots. Carmina
earned her sea legs by chopping vegetables in the galley while the boat pounded into 2-3 foot wind chop. I kept checking that she did not cut off a finger, but she was a real trooper. (See our photo gallery for pictures of Camrinas’ stay with us).

Docking the boat was a challenge as the wind was blowing us off the dock hard. Scott, the master docker, took the helm & 2 Costa Baja dock hands helped to finally tie us up safe. We enjoyed Carmina’s special dinner of Guatemalan enchiladas. They were a tasty & colorful combination of beets, peas, carrots, chicken and tomato sauce spiced with bay leaf & thyme.

Carmina & I took the free shuttle to town one day. We swam & snorkeled in the beautiful pool another day. A good time was had by all. She couldn’t stop thanking us for her \”millionary weekend\”. We are looking forward to visiting her in Guatemala early next year.

May 26 to June 4 – Adventures in Escrow
We were looking forward to getting off the dock & heading north up the Sea of Cortez for more diving. We got a call from the real estate agent that we had another very low offer on Scott’s parents Palm Desert home. We had fallen out of escrow once and had super low offers twice, so were pretty much expecting to hold it for the summer season & re-list in the winter.

It took 5 days, but buyer & seller managed to bridge the wide gap with a generous concession by our agent. Since we had already been through a \”dry run\” of escrow abroad, the stack of documents we had to print, sign, scan & email back as PDF attachments were familiar to us. We couldn’t have been in a better place to do all this since marina Costa Baja is the only marina we have seen with hard-wired internet modem & cable. When we tried to do this from the Grand Bay marina in Barra de Navidad it was
excruciatingly slow and tedious. Now we just zipped right along. Our only snag was getting an \”Apostille\” from a Mexican notary for the grant deed.

After 2 trips and $400 to a very nice Mexican notary we received an official translation & \”Apostille\” of our Grant Deed in Spanish. Our escrow agent said Riverside County would not be amused.

So after some research & phone calls we rented a car on June 4 & drove 3 hrs each way to Cabo San Lucas where Mike Houston saved us. He is the American Consular Agent and for $30 provided a federal notary to our document. . Another \”thank goodness\” that we were here, where we could do this sort of business & not in the back of beyond where a flight back to LA would have been required.

The only bummer besides the long drive, was getting pulled over by the police on a bogus charge. We were accused of driving TOO SLOW & spending too much time in the passing lane. There were 3 cops in the police car and our rental car marked \”Dollar\” evidently broadcast \”get your mordida dollars here\”. Mordida literally means \”the little death\” which is the Mexican form of bribery. We did not have time to follow them back to the station to get an official ticket. We did not have adequate Spanish fluency
to argue our way out of it. So for $80.00 US the cop let us go. And we made it to Cabo 1 hour before the consul office closed. Adventures in paradise. We are happy to report that this is only the 2nd incidence of this kind we have experienced in Mexico in 6 months. We understand that it is standard operating procedure in many 3rd world countries.

Stand by for more updates. We are currently in Agua Verde, 25 miles south of Puerto Escondido where we get our next internet opportunity.

Scott & Cindy s/v Beach House