Travels from May 29 to June 19, 2000:
Nanjo now relaxes over the sandy bottom at Santo Domingo, an anchorage just inside Bahia Concepcion. This anchorage is known for being coolest of all the anchorages in this bay during the summer. And THIS IS SUMMER. For the last week we have experienced a significant increase in the temperatures, even before reaching here. The days have typically been 95 or more and the nights are rarely below 85. The crew has found that even swimming suits are hot, so little or nothing has been worn. This has been practical because Nanjo has been on her own, in secluded spots, for most of the last week.
The higher temps have affected our physical conditions and we are adjusting as recommendations and common sense suggests. Nancy found the rapid change of temperature suddenly made her tired and unmotivated. She had worn her sunglasses to reduce eyestrain headaches and drunk water constantly. Advice from cruisers has been to drink water as a "cure" for whatever problem we experience - that dehydration is THE source of most physical problems in The Sea. We both perspire substantially, so we interpreted our symptoms as leadins to heat stroke rather than sunstroke.
Also the high temperatures have appeared to cause my insulin to be less effective - my blood-glucose counts to be higher during the day. This has been reduced somewhat by my drinking more water, but I have also added an extra unit of insulin to my intake during the day. My Lifescan, One Touch Profile glucometer computer has a nice feature which calculates 14- and 30-day averages - I am averaging in the 150's, even with these higher excursions. So my diabetes is being managed OK, I'm just having to adjust to the new conditions. I would like to get it to settle in a little lower, but I'm happy that I haven't had any severe lows, reducing my judgement.
The decks are too hot to walk on with bare feet. We wore deck shoes until those became too hot. Now we are using our "water socks". We wear hats and sunglasses. If we accidentally touch the stainless dodger frame with skin exposed by our skimpy clothing, we know it from the sting. The one-gallon of water in the solar shower heats up in less than 2 hours, cooled by another gallon before being used.
In anticipation of the heat and blazing sun, we have been working on projects demanded by these conditions. During our workdays in the southern anchorages, we made covers to protect the six 5-gallon diesel "jerry cans", the two 2-gallon gas jugs and the 1-gallon fuel mixture jug for the outboard. All of these are plastic and would have become brittle and cracked in the continuous UV and heat. It wasn't the danger of spilled fuel that we worried about, but the loss of fuel with so few sources for replentishment in the northern Sea.
The next project was the refer's solar shield for the hull, outboard of the refrigerator. This reduces the heat on the hull adjacent to the refrig, which saps the chill out of it, causing the compressor to run more, using more battery power. This shield was a suggestion from experienced cruisers that we met in Barra de Navidad last year, tried and true. We had that project completed and hung over the side, weighted by beach-sand from Candeleros Chico. But now I am getting ahead of where I had left off in identifying the anchorages we explored.
Los Gatos started out perfectly with a good set on the hook in 15-20 knots of wind and a fresh lobster dinner. Later that evening we received two invites for the next evening. The boat behind us for another lobster feast and two other boats were having a "happy hour". These happy hours usually turn into dinner because each boat usually brings over some snack, usually more than a snack. We passed on the second offer since we had already accepted the offer for another lobster feast. Unfortunately, that offer disappeared when the wife became ill. So we had something else for a change. By that I mean that we had lobster omelets for breakfast and lobster tacos for lunch. In total we had three meals from 50 pesos of lobster.
The third night, we joined six other boats for a beach potluck. The group congregated at the north end of the cove, at the edge of the beautiful peachy-rose sandstone rocks and cliffs. There were two different kinds of fish, freshly caught that day. One was bar-b-q'ed in a sweet sauce, while the other was just bar-b-q'ed whole. There was pasta, salad, fruit and Nancy brought rice with Mexican spicy mushrooms. The ever-present peanuts and a plate of picante and guacamole dips and chips kept people busy while the fish was cooking.
One boat, Lorien, was owned by a couple of young doctors with their son and daughter who were both less than 10 years old. They were very interested in my diabetes, as are most doctors we meet, since my case is so unique. It turns out that the husband, Chris, had a year of pancreas over activity just after med-school, which was finally determined to be a tumor on/in the pancreas. He had to eat every two hours to keep his glucose from going too low. At the same potluck, two other cruisers identified themselves as type-2 diabetics when they saw me taking my b/s reading and injecting insulin.
Chris had caught his two fish by spear gun, off the reef just in front of Nanjo. He invited me to go with him the next morning after breakfast. Before the evening was over, two other Skippers were part of the dive group.
The dive, the following morning, was the first time for me to use this fishing technique. There were many small, colorful reef fish, but few game-size. Those that I did find didn't have much to worry about. I learned how to anticipate the "windage" of my 7-ft., hand spear. I don't have to throw it. Instead, I use the elastic tube at the back of the spear to "cock" it: by sticking my thumb through the loop and stretching the loop as I move my hand up the shaft, finally grabbing the shaft. I came close a few times. Finally I got cold, although I was wearing my shorty dive suit. Chris loaned me his spear gun, which yielded the same results.
Since the swells became fairly uncomfortable the previous night, several boats left by lunch. We opted to stay another day so we could complete our shore exploration. The swells became even worse that night. Although the wind was coming from the south, the swells were refracting around the point 90 degrees hitting us on the beam.
The next day we found the other boats that had headed north in Agua Verde. Since it was a still hot day, we motored the 18 miles and took the inside passage through the shoal water at Punta San Marcial. We used the Pinniped waypoints for starters and I plotted GPS fixes every ten minutes. The lowest water we saw was 2.8 fathoms, but it was generally 4 fathoms deep. The eye-opening part was that the fixes showed just how useless the navigational features of the Mexican charts are. They were about 8/10 of a mile off to the southwest, indicating our track was through the island on the northeast side of the passage! Let this be a warning to those of you who follow or use charting software - THE CHARTS ARE NOT FOR NAVIGATION close to land or in shoal waters! The charts of The Sea are over a hundred years old!
The southern anchorage in Agua Verde was the popular spot. Six boats had already established their spots. Nancy steered around a couple of the boats to get a feel for the depths. Finally we decided to tuck in closer to the beach, between, but beyond two others. As we passed Also II, Kyoko yelled out that another boat had just vacated the spot we were headed for and it appeared to be fine. We set Max in 18 feet and buttoned up for a long stay.
An hour later we were told that a beach happy hour was planned for that evening. Soon Jim and Kyoko rowed by, heading for the beach to give each other haircuts. Apparently Kyoko wasn't happy with hers because she didn't come to the beach party. That gave me a chance to meet Jim - an ex-auto racer, corp. service manager for Mercedes and Jaguar and a recent Type 2 diabetic. He was full of stories. Since his last name was Bandy, I just had to ask him if he was in anyway associated with the song that goes, "Go Jim Dandy . . ." No.
We had a fish dinner on Also II one night and Kyoko brought over some more fresh fish for us the next evening. She is the consummate fisherwoman. She has several poles and about 15 reels. Her father taught her to fish and it is in her blood. Every morning she was out in her inflatable. It was just the sport she enjoyed.
While the village is not much more than a large fishing camp, 80 kilometers from Loreto by road, the town does have a fairly good tienda. Each day the store had new produce items. We went in three days and found good bananas, apples, pears, onions, garlic and cantaloupe, as well as beef, sliced ham for lunch and chicken. We went to a house a little farther, where the lady of the house made tortillas for us as we waited, talking to her husband who was on siesta.
My big accomplishment in Agua Verde, to prepare for hot weather, was to install a pump and water line to connect the water-cooling option to my refrigeration. This was a time consuming project and caused the interior of the cabin to be a mess, but that's part of living on a boat. The pump I used is rather noisey but we will get used to it.
We left Agua Verde six days later, after most boats had left for Puerto Escondido. We had a nice wind and broad-reached about 14 miles to Candeleros Chico, a tiny anchorage usable by no more than two boats. It was empty as we arrived, but saw that a second boat was heading in also, so we tried to anchor to one side. After two attempts, the second boat did anchor and stay with us for two nights. While we were fairly close to each other, the wind kept us swinging in unison and there was never a problem.
The anchorage is our favorite in Mexico! The cliffs beside the anchorage were very steep, colorful and uniquely shaped. Sunrise and sunset gave them different looks, while at night still another appearance was displayed. One mountain was extremely similar to the Egyptian Sphinx. On a hike we took, from high on a seaside cliff we saw a school of more than 50 manta rays, several occasionally flipping out of the water. While on the cliff, we ate lunch while the view to the south looked very much like the pictures we have seen of the South Pacific islands, Tahiti or Bora Bora. On the way we saw brilliant red cardinals. This is a don't-miss stop for all those planning their cruise itineraries.
After a few days of having the place to ourselves, we headed around to Bahia Candeleros. A 2-day stop was all we desired here - the shore had several gringo homes and a fish camp taking up most of the beach. We heard that cruisers weren't received that well. Since we weren't going to stop at Puerto Escondido (PE), we decided to head for a cove on Isla Danzante not described in Charlie's but shown in a photo in Williams, south of Honeymoon Cove. We weren't going to PE because it is dirty water, a shallow entrance, little more than a virtual marina and we would have had to check in with the Port Captania in Loreto anyway, a $45 US cab ride each way. We planned to anchor off Loreto to get provisions and Check In. So off to Danzante we went. The cove was found, but it took 5 tries before we were satisfactorily anchored. The first try set fine but we felt Nanjo would be too close to the cliffs if the wind switched. On the next attempts, Max drug. It was good we got Nanjo where we wanted her because Bud (storm) began to send strong winds up our way. One day we went ashore for haircuts. We found an overhang of lava at the water's edge to be out of the sun. I did Nancy's first (I'm getting better and faster), and after lunch Nancy did mine. We swam and snorkeled to wash the loose hair off. By cutting hair on shore we eliminated the cleanup on the boat.
The second day and night, the winds from Bud surged over the mountains on Danzante and hit Nanjo with 30 - 35 kt gusts. So, after 3 days, we decided to move up to the next island, Carmen.
The sail to Ballandra was exhilarating - a beam reach that began in 15 kt winds and finished in 25 knots. We made the 14 miles in two hours. We doused the sails as we swung into the entrance to the large cove. We had called ahead to Also II to get input on the remaining locations for us to try. The first one Max didn't like, so we eased a hundred yards north and found a good hold in 15 feet. Throughout the day several boats drug their anchors. One boat left for another island, two others put out second bow anchors, Also II being one. Bud continued to send strong winds up The Sea, producing 35 kt gusts in these protected coves. We listened to the weather info on the VHF and plotted the location of the storm. As it got closer to Cabo, the reports came every four hours. We were ready to dash for Puerto Escondido if necessary. But the next day the storm hit the cold waters, turned back on itself and died.
The next day we took a 4-hour hike back into Isla Carmen. We found an old windmill operated well made in 1921 for a ranch to water the cattle raised there. We found all sorts of quartz and mineral rich rocks, lava tubes gaped from all the canyons' sides. We found a dead tarantula and a large live beetle (about 2"), black with red wings, very striking. We were exhausted when we got back to the beach. On these trips, I carry my insulin in a case, which uses a cold pack chilled in the freezer, to keep the insulin cold. It seems to work fine for about 4 hours, as long as I have it sandwiched in my backpack.
Finally, on Monday, we got up early to go to Loreto. Since the anchorage off town was unprotected, we needed to be back aboard and ready to leave by 1330. That didn't give us a whole bunch of time to check in, buy provisions and find an Internet Café. But it had been about a month since we had been able to contact the family or get out the latest edition of these Chronicals. Unfortunately for you, my avid crew, delays of this length may become the best I can accomplish. After Loreto, we may be only able to send out this e-log from Santa Rosalia. Please be patient and don't think the worst when these silences occur.
Crew of Nanjo