April 1, 2008 — Layover day, Mulege

Today was the day of our big inland exploration to see some Baja cave paintings. We were scheduled to meet Salvador in front of the Las Casitas Hotel and Restaurant at 8:30 am. We rose early, however got away from the boat a little later than ideal. We ended up making a forced march into town, reaching the restaurant 5 minutes past 8:30. Salvador was dutifully standing out front, with us decked out with backpacks, walking stick, cameras and binoculars around our necks, he spotted us right away. Nothing like being outfitted like prototypical tourists. He greeted us warmly, and patiently waited while we ordered up our box lunches. For 50 pesos per lunch, we each got 3 burritos, hard boiled egg and orange. Salvador lead us over to his van and drove us up to the municipal building, where we signed the register and paid 35 pesos to cover use of our digital camera. We needed to show our drivers licenses when we registered. After tending the formalities, Salvador stopped by a little store and got some ice and soft drinks. We swung by his garage facility, and swapped vans for one more suitable for the drive out to the cave paintings.

The drive is about 30 km in length, and the dirt road out across the desert is primitive. Alternately washboard and rough rock cobble, the drive gave us all a good shaking, and I realized that Salvador’s vehicle maintenance costs must be extremely high. I commented that the road hadn’t seen a road grader in a long time. Salvador laughed and said the road gets graded just prior to each election. We had a good laugh. I got another chuckle over the weathered 40 km/hour speed limit sign, hanging on an old wooden post out in the middle of nowhere. Any vehicle violating that limit would quickly shake apart. We stopped at a fruit stand along the way, and Salvador pulled out his extremely sharp sheath knife, and proceeded to slice up grapefruit, oranges and tangerines for us to sample. The fruit was excellent, especially the grapefruit and tangerines, and is all organically grown. Salvador says much of it is shipped to the US for sale there. We bought a large mixed bag of fruit. Total cost: 20 pesos.

We also stopped at a loop turnout. Salvador is very knowledgeable about the local plant life, and he led us over to several varities of cactus, shrubs, and small trees. He told us the Spanish and English name for each, and provided much information about how each was used for food or herbal remedies. He brought us over to an extremely large speciman of cardon cactus. They can live to be over 500 years, and are the tallest cactus in the world. After they die, the bundle of woody poles inside can be used for building materials. We’ve seen them used as roofing lath, supporting palm frond thatch roofs.

We drove on, passing through two gates which marked the beginning of private ranch property. Salvador has permission to lead tours in this area, but has to pay a substantial fee to the ranch owner. The road ends at the ranch house, where we again signed the register book. The ranch house is in the foothills, and the trail takes off just behind the house. Salvador set a good pace on a well defined trail which wandered over rocky terrain and into a strikingly beautiful arroyo. The sides of the canyon were several hundred feet high, and in many places the canyon width was considerably less than the wall heights. The rock was mostly a brick red sandstone, alternating with layers of lighter colored volcanic rock and areas of conglomerate. A series of dams have been constructed to store water. The reservoirs are currently dry, because of drought conditions. In years past, the trek to see the cave paintings of La Trinidad involved a couple of swims up the reservoir pools. We were able to walk on dry ground the whole way, however, once well back in the arroyo we began encountering residual pools of water, which in some places was actively flowing from one pool to another. Tadpoles and small fish could be seen in these pools. They were very lovely, and in stark contrast with their arid surroundings.

Farther up the canyon we climbed. We rounded a bend and scrambled up to a large alcove which reached well back into the cliff face. The flat surfaces of this alcove were the palette for ancient Indian artists of exceptional skill. In colors of red, black and white, the painters had depicted animals common to the region then and now. Deer, rabbits, whales, fish, octopus, turtles, bighorn sheep, and numerous other animals were very recognizably painted in line drawing form. Outlines of hand prints, images of shamans, and abstract symbols thought to be calendars of some sort were also painted on the cliffs. Salvador had worked years ago with American archeologists who explored and catelogued these sites, and he was a wealth of knowledge about these paintings. He then led us further up the canyon to another cave painting sight, equally delightful to see. We ate our lunch in the shade of the second painted cave alcove, and then retraced our steps back to the ranch house. On the drive back to town, Salvador spotted and pointed out to us a roadrunner and some cardinals. Bouncing along that road, it was pretty amazing he was able to notice them. We were very pleased that we had been able to make contact with Salvador and accompany him on this trek. He’s a fine guide, and gave us an outstanding experience.

After saying our goodbyes, we wandered over to the town square, drank a couple of cokes, and then walked up to the old prison. It’s been closed for over 30 years, and has now been converted to a museum. While serving as a prison, it was notable for the practise of allowing the less dangerous inmates out of their cells each day. The inmates would walk to town to work, and at the end of the day, a prison guard would blow a conch shell horn, and the inmates would walk back to the prison, along with their families, to be locked up for the night. The more dangerous inmates were kept secured within an inner wall and set of cells in the prison. It all looked very austere and no place to be kept, regardless of circumstances. The museum displays were very interesting, depicting local history, natural history, and the story of the prison. While we were there, Sandy asked the caretaker where the banos (restroom) was. The lady showed here the door to the unisex banos. Inside was a nice flush toilet. Outside the door was a big water barrel and bucket. To operate the toilet, you must first fill the toilet tank with water from the outside barrel. Hey, it works.

From there, we went back to town for a little shopping, and then returned to the boat. We walked back this time, and were quite tired by the time we got back. A nice rum and coke in the cockpit, preceded by a ibeprophen tablet, more than took care of the soreness. We ate dinner on the boat, and I went out fishing for a short while. My vantage point in the dinghy provided a front row seat to a vivid sunset. I caught one fish, but couldn’t compete with a pair of local boys who fished next to our boat, using handlines. They are true expert fishermen. We gave them each a rice krispy treat, which they clearly enjoyed.

April 2, 2008 — Caleta San Sebastian — N 26 degrees 37′ 04.6″/ W 111 degrees 33′ 58.2″

31 nm cruised today; 201 nm for trip overall; house battery condition at 6:30 am: 12.43 volts

Light land breeze and dry cockpit when I got up this morning. Partly cloudy skies and mild temperature. Several pangas ran out at high speed, kicking us around some with their wake. I tuned the Amigo net in on the SSB receiver while sipping my morning coffee. The forecast confirmed earlier projections of a change in weather. A 4 millibar gradient will move in late tonight, setting up 20 to 25 kt winds out of the NNW by early morning tomorrow. Hearing this, we decided to modify our plans for hanging out in Mulege today, and departing tomorrow. Instead, we opted to hurry through chores in town in the morning, and try to get underway by 1 pm. That would give us settled conditions for an afternoon 31 mile run down to Caleta San Sebastian, the first sheltered anchorage to our south. We could then decide in the morning whether to hang out at San Sebastian, or continue around Punta Pulpito, and possibly as far as San Juanico, another 20 miles beyond San Sebastian.

This has thus far turned out to be excellent strategy. The afternoon run was smooth and pleasant. No sailing wind, but a nice motor run. I averaged 6 knots at about 2900 rpm, and we got in by 6:15 pm. A pair of cruising sailboats passed us northbound, as did one large power cruiser. Every so often I could see a panga or two close in to shore. We encountered two groups of dolphins, the second being a fairly large group, traveling north at a good clip. As we neared San Sebastian, we passed by some large schools of fish which were being aggressively attacked by larger fish and numerous pelicans. If it hadn’t been so late, I’d have loved to pause and try my luck fishing.

San Sebastian is a very cozy cove, which has apparently been totally appropriated by gringos. A half dozen very attractive, and costly adobe style beach homes line the cove. Dense palm groves enhance the scene. However, the atmosphere was disturbed by a rather loud, typically American patio party, complete with excessively loud conversation and overly loud carrying on. After the quiet, relaxed feel to Mulege, a town of 5000, this small group of Americans seemed boorishly out of place here. Of course, we are actually the visitors in their little community, the only boat anchored in their cove. I wonder if they feel we’re intruders here.

We’re getting bounced around a bit from swells, refracting into the cove. I’m debating whether to set out a stern anchor. Tomorrow will bring other decisions, such as whether to test ourselves in the predicted winds. Those decisions will await the dawn.

April 3, 2008 — Caleta San Juanica — N 26 degrees 22′ 04.6″/ W 111 degrees 25′ 57.6″

19 nm for the day; 220 nm total for the trip; house battery at 6 am: 12.42 volts

I rose at 6am to clear skies and a moderate land breeze blowing out of the cove at San Sebastian. I decided that this would be a good morning for an early start, with the chance of getting as far as Caleta San Juanita before the predicted north northwesterly wind kicked in. I tried sailing off the anchor, however ended up firing up the motor to get us swung around. The reefs guarding both sides of the anchorage didn’t allow enough room for me to swing around under sail quickly enough. Once we had the wind at our back, we eased out under main and jib. The land breeze nearly died once we got a half mile out, however, we were content to drift along at a knot or less while we enjoyed our coffee and breakfast, and listened to the Amigo Net weather forecast. Don predicted NNW winds of 20 to 25 knots by early afternoon. That fit our day’s cruise plan perfectly. We picked up a little more wind, and eased along at 2 knots for a while, before that died back and I reluctantly fired up the outboard.

While motoring along at about 5 knots across Bahia San Nicolas I spotted dolpin activity way out, almost to the horizon. It looked like a big group, moving fast. I held course, and in a surprisingly short time, they were only a few hundred yards off our bow. A sizeable group, perhaps several dozen, veered away from the main bunch and swam our way, like a bunch of puppy dogs wanting to play. Not wanting to disturb them I eased back on the throttle. They came right along side. I finally got the idea, and revved back up. They immediately shot to our bow and began running on our bow wave. Sandy went up to the bow pulpit with the camera, and got some amazing video footage as they raced along with us. They would swim on their sides and look right up at her. She could even hear them squeaking at her. Having never before experienced this behavior, we were entranced. While we were cruising along with the dolphins, the motor coughed once and then died. What a time to run a gas tank dry. We were quickly dead in the water. A couple of dolphins gazed up at Sandy with a look that said “So, you don’t want to play anymore?”, and then swam off. I switched over to the port side tank and got us running again, and the dolphins again came over to play. This time I went forward and enjoyed their antics. After a while, they moved off, and we watched the main group, which was tearing up the water a half mile away. We saw repeated leaps, sometimes by 2 or 3 dolphins at a time. Some of the leaps were at least 10 feet in the air. It was better than a Sea World show.

We continued onward, rounding Punta Pulpita, a striking promentory which rather does look like a preacher’s pulpit. On the south side we started picking up a breeze, and I played out the main and jib. We enjoyed a great wing on wing sail, making 3 knots at first, but gradually increasing to over 4 knots. I rigged my preventer to the end of the boom, and then tried out an idea. Since the Macgregor 26 X doesn’t have a traveler, I find it difficult to impossible to establish a good sail shape when the main is played out for a downwind run. It presses against the shroud and spreader, and the boom rises up. I decided to unclip the main sheet from the standard pedestal attachment and hook it up to the starbard railing, where the lifeline connects. This allowed me to put downpressure on the boom at a more favorable angle. Combined with a tightened vang and the preventer line, I was able to substantially improve the shape of the main. We enjoyed fine sailing all the way to the entrance to Caleta San Juanica. After reaching the turning point, I shortened the jib and brought the main sheet back to the pedestal. We did a controlled gybe and sailed into the anchorage on the opposite tack.

There were 5 other sailboats anchored in San Juanica, however, it’s a roomy anchorage. We dropped sails and motored over to a nice inside position, at least a quarter mile from the nearest boat. Our arrival timing was perfect. The wind outside continued to build throughout the afternoon, but we were well protected in the San Juanico anchorage.

This is truly a lovely place, which easily earns its reputation as a major Sea of Cortez cruiser’s destination. A series of beaches, separated by colorful, rocky headlands, form the perimeter of the bay. An island group near our anchorage takes the shape of several steep rock spires. Osprey have built nests on the tops of the pinnacles. The water ranges in color from emerald green to deep blue, depending on depth and bottom composition.

We ate lunch in the cockpit and then went for an explore in the dinghy. We went ashore and examined the cruiser’s shrine, which in the Bahamas was called a signing tree. In this case, a moderate sized bush along the shore is decorated with signs and various artisticly arranged bits of flotsam and jetsom, recording boat names and dates of visits. We walked the beach and met a lady from one of the sailboats, Gail, who lives on Saltspring Island in the Canadian San Juans. We enjoyed a nice visit with her and her dog. We later ran the dinghy over to one of the beaches where we found a large concentration of olive shells.

Back at the boat, Sandy put together a pizza, which we baked up on the backpack oven. It turned out great, and capped an outstanding day.

April 4, 2008 — Layover day, Caleta San Juanica

house battery at 6 am: 12.41 volts; weather, clear and breezy

I rose at 6 am, and after coffee and a couple of granola bars, I climbed into the dinghy to try my luck fishing. I motored over to the lee of the pinnacle rocks at the edge of the anchorage and jigged, but got no bites. I then moved out the the entrance to the bay and tried in deeper waters, with the same disappointing results. I tried several jigs and lures, but nothing worked. Finally, I put on a silver flatfish and trolled my way back toward the boat. As I neared the power boat anchored several hundred yards to our stern, I reeled my line in and was surprised to find a long, snakey fish snagged to one of the treble hooks. It was about a foot long, but I never felt it bite. I decided to hang onto it, for use as bait. I motored over to the power boat, and said hello to the captain and his daughter, whom we’d met yesterday. He’d offered the loan of a hacksaw so I could cut the spur off a conch shell I’d found at Bahia Santa Barbara. I thought it would make a good conch horn. I made the cut, cleaned out the opening, and gave it a blow. The horn sounded a loud, clear blast. The two aboard the power boat were surprised at how well it blew. I let them try, but they couldn’t get any sound out of it.

I returned to our boat and Sandy presented me with a freshly baked granola/banana crisp. It was delicious, and made for an excellent late breakfast treat. By this time the forecast NNW winds had picked up strength, and were whipping across the anchorage. We boarded dinghy and went ashore, for a foot exploration. We walked the beach to our south, enjoying the varied rock formations. Pelicans and ospreys were taking advantage of the strong, steady winds by soaring above the sheer cliffs on the edge of the bay. I climbed a tall hill which afforded a great view of the entire bay. We then struck out inland, on a steep, freshly graded dirt road, apparently created to access newly subdivided lots. Change is in the works for this area. We circled back by road, ending up near where we’d beached the dinghy. We returned to the boat and had lunch.

This afternoon I did my version of ‘dumpster diving’, which involved hauling out all the contents of the king berth, so I could access the 9 large plastic tubs which contain our meal supplies. We’d begun running out of provisions in the smaller working tubs, which we store under the forward settee, and it was time to restock. Sandy had prepared a list, and she checked things off the inventory list as I retrieved various items from the bins. It’s kind of like going grocery shopping in a dark, horizontal closet. With that chore completed, I motored over to ANU, to show Gail and Howard our new cruising guide. They really liked the format and presentation.

Before dinner, we went ashore again, to look for Apache Tears. These smooth, shiny obsidian spheres can be found in a gray, ashy rock formation just beyond the beach. We chipped away at the soft, crumbly rock, and managed to dig out several dozen. They’re jet black, and quite pretty.

Dinner tonight was spaghetti, made from a sausage and sauce mix that Sandy had cooked up from scratch at home before the trip, and then dried in the oven. She soaked the dried meat and sauce in water, to rehydrate, and then served it over angel hair noodles, garnished with grated mozzerella cheese. It tasted great, and was quite easy to prepare. The rehydration wasn’t quite complete, and next time we have spaghetti on the menu we’ll allow more time for the rehydration.

The winds, which had blown strongly all day, finally died down at dusk. After dinner we had tea in the cockpit, under a star filled sky. The only artificial lights visible were the anchor lights of the 5 neighboring sailboats.

April 5 – 6, 2008 — Loreto

House battery at 6 am: 12.47

Yesterday was one of those days when things just fell into place, perfectly, from dawn to dark. I rose at the usual time, and caught the Amigo net weather while enjoying coffee and breakfast. Saturday and Sunday were forecast to be calm, but winds were predicted for Monday afternoon. I had thought we’d spend Saturday night at Punta Mangles, 7 miles south of San Juanico, however after hearing the weather, I decided to move on down to Loreto, in case we needed to move on by Monday. Loreto has no marina facilities, just a small boat basin. Cruisers visiting Loreto must either anchor out front of the boat basin, in open roadstead, or go 13 miles further south, to Puerto Escondido, and then take a taxi back to town. I figured the settled weather on Saturday and Sunday would allow us time to anchor out and explore Loreto, before the Monday winds arrived.

We got underway at 8:40, and stopped off at a fishing hole near the entrance to San Juanico to try my luck. I caught one small fish, which I put on ice, but only one. I tried for a half hour, and then we resumed our southerly cruise. As we neared Punta Mangles, Sandy saw a spout off the port bow. A single gray whale was alternately spouting and sounding. We got several good looks as our paths crossed. Further on we saw a small group of dolphins. I trolled a big lure behind my deep sea rod, but again without luck. Punta Mangles is a dramaticly beautiful headland, with contrasting bands of red, brown, and white rock. After rounding Punta Mangles we needed to keep a sharp watch for Mangles Rock, a reef and pinnacle rock area, just barely awash, and over a mile offshore, right along the logical route for cruising south. We visually located it, in its charted location, and gave it a wide berth.

Isla Coronado was our next waypoint on the way to Loreto. We were intending on heading straight for Loreto, but I began thinking about how long it had been since we’d been able to shower. We were both feeling quite salty and grungy. I decided that a short stop at Isla Coronado might afford a good chance for solar showers and donning fresh clothes before arriving at Loreto. With its lack of marina facilities, I knew public showers wouldn’t be available there. As we approached the broad eastern anchorage, I could see a large number of pangas and fishing boats on the beach at the north end of the anchorage. However, the bay is large, and the southwestern end terminates in a sheltering hook, over a mile from the pangas. The water is shallow there, with broad expanses of sand bottom, which gave the water a lovely bright aqua color, reminiscent of waters we’d seen in the Bahamas. Best of all, no one else was around. A perfect shower stop. I anchored and went for a salt water swim while Sandy showered, and then took my turn. The solar shower was up to 110 degrees, we sat in calm waters with light winds. It felt great to clean up and put on fresh clothes.

We took our time cruising the final 9 miles to Loreto, motor sailing most of the way. We located the boat basin by watching the pangas as they headed in. As we neared the breakwater, I decided to poke our nose in, to see if there was any chance we could tie up inside. We dropped centerboard and rudders, secured the dinghy on a short painter, and idled in. The boat basin is perhaps an acre in size, with pangas tied up on all sides to the breakwater, bow in and with sterns secured to small floats. There are 2 small floating docks, one on each side, both with 2 short finger docks. A couple of large sport fishing boats were tied up to the far docks, and it looked like it was used by a charter fishing service. The other is located just inside the breakwater entrance, and the slip space along the entrance to the boat basin was unoccupied. The length looked to fit our boat perfectly. We slid on in and tied up. I could see no signs or indications of limitations or prohibitions to our being there. It was a perfect spot, and well sheltered.

After securing the boat, we walked over to the charter fishing office, and found a guy who spoke English. I asked him if there was any problem with us tying up there. He didn’t think there was, and asked some other guys hanging out there in Spanish. No problemo. With that, we turned our backs to the boat basin, and started our explore of Loreto. We wandered over to the town center, with a first stop at the Mission Church. It is the oldest mission in Baja, and has been beautifully restored. The doors were open and we looked inside. The altar area is beautifully decorated with colorful and gilded statues and liturgical art work. Next door is a mission museum, which we wandered through. It told the story of the mission period in Baja quite thoroughly, and contained some remarkable artifacts. Afterwards, we did a little shopping, and then walked back toward the waterfront, in search of a restaurant. The walkway down from the church is landscaped with a series of small hedged trees, arranged in pairs, and trained to grow together over the middle of the street. These hedged trees form a series of green arches for several blocks on either side of the church. It’s a very lovely and inviting street.

For dinner we selected La Palapa, a nice, traditional Mexican restaurant near the waterfront. The roof is thatched palm leaves, and the walls are woven mats. The atmosphere was warm and colorful, and the waiters had energy and style. Our waiter had a bright red crewcut, but was clearly a true Mexican. He had a good sense of humor, spoke fair English in a heavy accent, and served us well. We ordered margueritas, and they brought us an excellent salsa tray. Sandy ordered shrimp, and I had scallops. The food was excellent. After dinner Sandy wanted to try their flan. The waiter asked if I would like some Mexican coffee. I hesitated a bit, then said Si. He beamed and gave me the “right on” arm pump. A short while later he returned with the flan, and a tray with coffee cup, an alcohol flame holder and two metal cups. With great flair he heated the tequila in the two cups, then flamed the contents, and proceeded to pour from one to the other the flaming tequila. He created a flaming stream over a foot in length. It was quite a performance, finished off by pouring a little flaming tequila on Sandy’s flan, and the rest into my coffee. Perfect way to complete a delightful meal.

We walked back to the waterfront as dusk settled, and then strolled the malecon back toward the boat basin. We walked out to the end, where our boat was slipped. A family group was at the small gazebo on the end, a man, two women, a young boy and two dogs. We walked down to the boat, closely followed by the boy, who displayed an intense curiousity about the boat. He peered over the side, trying to see what was inside. One of the women came down, I think to make sure the boy wasn’t being a problem, and she too became extremely curious about the boat. I tried to explain things in spite of the language barrier. She asked about sleeping area and “banos” facilities. I showed her how our little boat handled these things. I told her it was our “agua casa” or water house. She got the idea.

I went on deck to put up the sail covers. While working on them, I heard a loud splash behind me. I thought it was a pelican diving on fish, but saw that it was the man, standing at the end of the finger dock. He was working a throw net. I watched his next throw and marveled at how he achieved a perfect circle as the net hit the water. I have such a net, and have tried many times to get the hang of throwing it, but never succeeding. It always splashes into the water in a hopeless wad. I told the man how much I appreciated his skill, and then pantomimed that I’d tried, but couldn’t get it to work. He immediately motioned me over to his net, and indicated that he would show me his technique. I was hesitant, but he was insistent. He first looped the end of the retrieval line around my wrist, then carefully gathered up the line and the top portion of the net in a series of folds, held by my right hand. He hooked a portion of net over my right elbow, and then gathered folds of net also into my right hand. The remaining net was gathered up into my left hand. I then twisted myself counterclockwise and then tossed the whole affair out toward the water in an exaggerated frisbee toss motion. Expecting my usual wadded up mess, I was astonished to see a broad circle of net splash into the water. Both the man and I cheered my success. I slowly pulled the net in, feigning much strain, as though it was full of shrimp. It came in empty, but I was delighted nonetheless. A little while later, the man did finally get one shrimp, which he proudly gave to me. I decided to offer him a beer. He nodded, but misunderstood. He went over and tried to give me one of the few beers he had with him. I shook my head, and then got beers and cokes from the boat. We all celebrated shrimp netting from the dock. We exchanged introductions. He is Leo, his wife is Victoria, and the boy is Roberto. I don’t recall the name of the other woman. Our little bit of time spent together was a joy, and deeply memorable, a fitting cap to a perfect day in Baja.

[April 6]

Today was a layover day, however we rose early, because we wanted to attend the7 am mass at the mission church. While sipping my coffee in the cockpit, shortly after 6 am, an older man walked out to the end of our slip with a fishing rod. He eyed our boat and, in fine English, admired it. We struck up a conversation which was most interesting. He once had worked for the Baja Department of Agriculture, and explained how he had been involved in a program to eradicate cattle screw worm in Baja. It was apparently a big problem. My friend, who introduced himself as Bill Gusman, would drive out to all the ranches in Baja, no matter how remote, and test the cattle for screw worm. If he found infected animals, he would go out to the nearest phone, and call somewhere in Texas. A DC3 plane would take off, headed for the affected area. Bill would mark the target area with a big circle of gypsum, and when the plane arrived, he would signal with a mirror. The plane would then drop small boxes containing up to 1 million sterilized screw worm flies. These flies would then breed with the wild flies, and after a couple generations, screw worms would be eradicated in that specific area. He mentioned with pride the date in 1981 when over 400 people who had worked on this program gathered to celebrate the total eradication of screw worms in all of Baja.

Shortly before 7 am we walked up to the mission church. Unfortunately, the mass had already started, but we did attend the last half, and heard some beautiful hymns sung to the accompaniment of guitars. After the mass we walked over to a cafe and had breakfast. I ordered huevas Mexicana and Sandy had huevas nopalita, which is scrambled eggs with diced cactus leaves. Both entrees were excellent. After breakfast I found a table in the shade and caught up with my journal. We managed to locate an internet cafe at a place which was combination gift shop and bar. The people were very friendly there, and offer free WIFI. Of course, we did a little shopping, to show our appreciation. I was able to catch up on e’mail, and send son Ken the latest journal entries and photos.

We then located a car rental agency which the folks at the internet cafe had recommended, and arranged to rent a car tomorrow, so we can drive up to visit Mission Xavier, the second oldest mission in Baja, and reputed to be one of the most beautiful. We also did a little grocery shopping before returning to the boat. We just hung out in the shade of the bimini and sunshade during the afternoon. While sitting in the cockpit we saw the woman and dad that we had met in San Juanico. They had run in to pick up crew. A little later we were hailed by Howard and Pat, from Tuna Time, whom we’d last seen in Santa Rosalia. They came aboard and we caught up on our experiences since seeing each other last.

We fixed dinner aboard this evening. I fried up the fish fillets and our one shrimp, while Sandy sauteed up onions and squash, spiced with a little jalapena pepper. We really wished we’d had a few more shrimp, and a little less jalapena. The dinner was most enjoyable nonetheless. Afterwards, we went for a walk up and down the malecon. We weren’t alone in enjoying this simple pleasure. Many people were out walking in the comfortable evening air. The street itself was jammed with cars, cruising up and down, with Mexican music piped loudly from CD players. It was like American Graffiti, ala south of the border. We ended things off with dessert at a fine waterfront restaurant.

April 7, 2008 — Layover day in Loreto

House battery — 12.40

Bill Gusman and a couple of his fishing comrades were out on the dock when I got up around 6 am. Fishing was better this morning. The sardines were in, and the fisherman had several nice 16 inch long flounder flopping on the dock. We thought we had gotten up in plenty of time to get our car at 8:30 am, but we learned that a couple days ago, Baja California Sur changed to daylight savings time, and we’d lost an hour. I did manage to find the National Park office open, and I bought 2 annual park passes. I also visited the Port Captain’s office, and checked in.

We then walked up to the car rental office, and went through the process of renting our car. The insurance ended up costing as much as the rental fee for a day, but I didn’t want to take unnecessary chances, and I got the best insurance they offered. The car was a compact Chevy, with 4 tires plus spare, all with air, manual shift and no power steering. The air conditioning worked, but there was no radio. I didn’t know they made cars without a radio any more. I put $10 worth of gas in the car, and we headed for the hills.

We managed to make all the right turns, and soon found ourselves on the road to San Xavier Mission. The first 8 km or so was newly paved, with guard railing in the process of being installed. Beyond that, the road was a rough, bumpy desert dirt road. Provided I didn’t exceed 30 km/hr, our little car handled it fine. We drove up a narrow arroyo, which had an intermittent stream running through it. In places, the water stood in pools, and flowed over smooth rock and in narrow channels. Numerous small groves of fan palms lined the arroyo, testifying to the availability of water. We passed a couple of shrines along the roadside. A sign marked the location of a small cluster of Indian rock paintings. We stopped to examine them. They weren’t as spectacular as the ones we viewed at La Trinidad, but were interesting nonetheless. As we continued up the road, we climbed sharply upward. The road was carved into a steep mountainside, and weaved in and out of narrow draws. As we neared the summit, we could look back and see the distant Sea of Cortez, and the town of Loreto, far below. On the other side we drove through an arid valley, which gradually began descending into a canyon. Another stream flowed in this canyon bottom.

Just after noon, we arrived at San Xavier. The mission church could be seen from a distance, its bell tower projecting above the palms and trees which marked this as a place of peace, rest and shade. A small community of about 150 people surround the mission, which is still used as an active place of worship. This mission is the second oldest in all the Californias. The interior is beautifully decorated with statues, paintings, and carved woodwork. These remarkable works of art arrived at this remote desert location after a journey by sailing ship around the Horn, and then by pack animal up to the mission.

Our drive back down, out of the mountains was uneventful, except for the sign which detoured us away from the newly paved section of road. We were routed onto a rocky graded road which ran down a dry wash, right through the middle of an active gravel operation, and finally out to the main highway. After hitting pavement, we drove south, out to Puerto Escondido, to give the facilities there a quick look. (We should have looked closer). Our plan was to run down there next day in the boat, for fuel at their fuel dock, and to do laundry and take showers. The Singlar Marina at Puerto Escondido offers all the above facilities.

We returned to town, bought groceries, and drove them out to the boat. We then returned the car to the rental agency, and walked back through town. We stopped in at a little restaurant called Mita Gourmet, which had been recommended to us by people we’d met the day before. It features an outside dining area, and adjoins a lovely plaza quite near the Loreto Mission church. We arrived ahead of the main dinner crowd, which was fortunate, as this place is quite popular. The chef personally greets each group of diners, and answers any questions you may have about the menu. He has a captivating personality, and readily conveys his love of preparing gourmet meals. While we were sipping our pina coladas a musician began setting up. He played an amplified acoustic guitar, and beautifully played both classical and popular tunes. The food was outstanding. Sandy asked if she could take a picture of the chef at work. The waitress said no, but that she’d go back with the camera and take one for us. She took a great picture of our chef at work.

April 8, 2008 — Puerto Escondido — N 25 degrees 48′ 50.8″ W 111 degrees 18′ 35.5′

house battery at 7 am (savings time): 12.38 (away most of the day, couldn’t aim solar panel)
15 nm cruised for the day; 261.9 nm cruised on the trip overall

The good fortune and happy times we associated with our visit to Loreto lingered for awhile after our departure this morning, but as we left Loreto in our wake, problems began to present themselves. The day started pleasantly enough, to the sounds of panga fishermen talking enthusiasticly among themselves, some powering out of the boat basin toward their favorite fishing spots, others circling around, casting throw nets for bait fish. The old man who comes out to the dock on his bicycle every morning and evening to fish with his hand line was at the end of our dock when I emerged from the cabin. If I were a portrait artist I would paint him. His face tells a thousand stories, and he says “Buenas dias amigo” with genuine warmth and feeling. I prepared to cast off, handling the lines while Sandy started up the motor. I felt a nudge on my shoulder, and the old man looked at me, then glanced over at Sandy behind the wheel and said “Capitan?” I nodded affirmatively, and when the lines were free, I told Sandy to take the boat away from the dock. She powered up, and we idled our way out of the boat basin. The old man smiled and waved, impressed that Sandy was our boat captain, and Sandy appreciated the moment as well.

We took our time motoring south, toward Puerto Escondido. I trolled a lure, and we sighted a pair of humpback whales, which passed closely enough to allow for pictures. We also saw a sea lion, floating on his back with just flippers sticking out of the water. A cruise ship bound for Loreto passed us northbound, while we were watching the whales. I was glad we were able to see Loreto before the cruise ship arrived there.

Problems started as we neared Puerto Escondido. Sandy was below, organizing the laundry. She noticed a rotten smell in the king berth area, and discovered the source to be a hard boiled egg which I’d forgotten to remove from my day pack. It was a left over from the sack lunch I brought on the La Trinidad hike, over a week before. Whew, was it ripe. Next little mishap occurred as we were getting fenders and dock lines ready for arrival at the Puerto Escondido fuel dock. I’d clipped the backstay cable that supports the mainsail boom onto a plastic clip instead of to the stainless loop on the end of the boom. When Sandy grabbed the boom for support, while working on deck, the plastic clip broke. Not a big deal, just irritating.

On to the fuel dock. I’d gone to considerable trouble confirming the availability of gas here at Puerto Escondido. Before leaving home, I e’mailed the cruising club in La Paz with an inquiry. They made some phone calls on my behalf, and e’mailed me back that yes, indeed, the Singlar Marina had both diesel and gas. Based on that information, I had opted against hauling gas to the boat while in Loreto by means of jerry cans, although that wouldn’t have been very difficult while we had use of the rental car. I figured that a nice convenient fuel dock, a real rarity down here, was a luxury too good to pass up. We eased up to the fuel dock, beneath the huge Pemex fuel tanks. Two dock hands were standing by to take our lines. One guy queried “Diesel?” I said “No, gasoline”. He shook his head, saying “No gasoline today”. I was incredulous. Back and forth we went, in his broken English and my almost non existent Spanish. Eventually, I gathered that their gas tank was empty, and that they didn’t expect fuel delivery until around 10 am the next day. This was beginning to feel like our hot water problems at the Singlar Marina in Santa Rosalia.

We had little option but to wait for tomorrow, in hopes that the promised fuel delivery would actually occur. We anchored in the convenient area known as the Elipse, nice and close to the Singlar docks. We ran over to the dock in the dinghy, loaded down with laundry, computer and shower gear. I went into the office, and received one piece of discouraging information after another. In order to check in, I would have to hike about a half mile over to another office, because Singlar didn’t control the area we had anchored in. We needed to deal with API instead. We wash our clothes, but the driers didn’t work. It seems the propane tanks for the driers were empty. Internet works, however, it is painfully slow. There was some debate as to the availability of hot shower water. Sandy took her chances, and found the one shower stall that, with a long enough wait, eventually achieved a flow of warm water. When my shower turn came along, I had to use the women’s shower, same one Sandy had used, because there is no hot water at all on the men’s side. Sandy also discovered that none of the electrical outlets in the bathroom work. She ended up drying her hair in the marina office/computer room. I asked the marina official if I could string up a clothes line to dry our laundry, since the driers didn’t work. She said no. When I persisted, she picked up the phone and called for a couple of workers to come over. After a flurry of conversation, she said that they could get one drier to work. It appears they had just enough propane to dry one, not two, loads of laundry. I said fine, and we got as much clothing stuffed into the drier as possible. I took the remainder back to the boat and strung it out on lifelines and jib sheets. Our little boat looked really festive, with all those “flags” flying in the warm breeze. We were able to catch up on e’mail, while the wash dried. A couple doing updates for Charlies Charts stopped by, and I filled them in on our experiences here thus far. The guy nodded and offered the comment that Singlar is trying, single handedly, to destroy cruising for Mexico. It seems that the local marina employees have virtually no decision making authority. Almost all decisions must be made by someone in Mexico City. Consequently, things break but no authorizations are given to fix them. Rules make no sense, nor do charges and fees. It’s not surprising that cruisers, who are very well networked, tend to stay away from Singlar facilities by the droves. It’s only the unfamiliar ones, or those who really need the services supposedly available, who come here. It’s really a shame, because with some decent management and on site decision making authority, this place could be very successful. Here I go, thinking and acting like a gringo.

I certainly hope tomorrow is a better day. We’re pretty well dependent on that fuel delivery. To cover my bases, though, I plan on checking in with the local cruisers net on VHF, and asking if anyone is planning on driving into Loreto, with room for a couple jerry gas cans. One way or another, I need to have 10 more gallons of gas on board before I will feel comfortable setting out for La Paz.

April 9, 2008 — Bahia Agua Verde — N 25 degrees 31′ 22.4″/ W 111 degrees 04′ 28″

house battery at 7 am: 12.50 volts; 68 liters of gas purchased for 552 pesos; est. 36 gallons on board; est. mileage from Santa Rosalia, including sailing: 8.5 mpg
24 nm cruised for the day; 286 nm cruised on the trip overall

Well, I have to give Pemex and Singlar credit. They said gas would be available by 10 am, and they were right. While sipping our coffee and listening to the Amigo net weather forecast at 7:30 am (8:30 savings time) I saw the tanker truck drive up the entrance road. He first turned down toward the API offices, and a half hour later rolled into the Singlar Marina and parked next to their large, above ground tank. I got into the dinghy and ran in to find out how soon I could get gas. The Singlar guys said 10 am. They didn’t start work till 9 am, and then it took a while for the tanker to connect up to the storage tank and transfer fuel. We raised anchor and motored over to the fuel dock. Sure enough, just after 10 am they were ready to pump me some gas. While getting set up, the gas attendant pointed excitedly toward the water, in front of our boat. There was a lot of thrashing going on. “Roosterfish!” he kept saying excitedly. I grabbed a spin pole and cast toward the action, but was too late. We then proceeded with the mundane, but necessary task of filling fuel tanks. I avoided overfilling the main tank and jerry cans, and figure I took on perhaps 3 gallons short of my 39 gallon capacity. I was very grateful to have tanks full, and the boat ready for the run down to La Paz. While at the fuel dock, I filled the solar shower and porta potty flush reservoir with tap water. We were now well stocked in all respects.

While still at the fuel dock, we talked with a Canadian who had pulled up in a pickup with a bunch of empty jerry cans. We got to talking about manta rays, which can be seen in these waters. As he described his encounters with these remarkable fish, we suddenly realized that the “sea lion” we had seen basking at the surface just after leaving Loreto the day before had actually most likely been a manta ray. We had seen two flippers, which were undoubtedly the tips of its wings. We never saw a nose come up to breath, like a sea lion would have done. This guy said you can get right in the water with manta rays. When you do, he advised looking them right in the eyes, and they might accept you and move in close. Wouldn’t that be a thrill!

We got under way at 11 am, and had lunch while motoring south on calm seas. We occasionally picked up a slight breeze, and were able to motor sail part of the way, and even had enough wind to shut the motor down for short periods. I finally got some action with my deep sea rod, which I regularly troll while cruising. We were only doing about 3 1/2 knots motor sailing when we heard the big Penn Senator reel start to zing. I grabbed the pole with visions of yellowtail in my eyes. The pull of the fish didn’t seem that strong, however, and when I reeled in enough to see the fish, I was disappointed to see that a slender, 3 foot long shark had gotten a mouthful of treble hook. I carefully shook him free with the aid of needle nose pliers. We got going again, and I again let the line out. At least I knew that my diving lure was attractive to something. A mile or so further on, the reel again sang out. We went through the same drill, only to find another shark fouled in the hooks. This time it was even more difficult shaking him free. I decided to put the rod away, noting that trolling at under 4 knots was the probable reason for hooking sharks. I’ll try keeping my speed higher in the future.

Our goal for the day was Bahia Agua Verde, one of the more protective anchorages along this stretch of coast. Since some northerly wind is forecast for tomorrow afternoon and Friday, Agua Verde seemed like a good place to hang out and see what developes. I had planned on at least 1 layover day here in any case. We got in around 4 pm, and found another 5 sailboats and a large power cruiser already swinging at anchor. We were able to find a suitable empty patch of water and dropped our hook. The bobos were waiting for us here, so we put up the dodger and bug netting over forward hatch and cockpit. We were able to enjoy margeritas and munchies in the cockpit without being bothered by bugs. For dinner, we fixed up delicious beef fajitas, with some of the meat we purchased in Loreto. It was an outstanding meal. As we sat in the cockpit, I heard a loud splash. Sandy exclaimed that a ray had just leaped out of the water. I looked in that direction just in time to see a second leap. A ray, about 12 inches across, had leaped completely out of the water and smacked down again. I’d heard that they jump like that, but this was the first time we’d seen them.

April 10, 2008 — Bahia San Marte — 25 degrees 30′ 16.7″ W 111 degrees 01′ 02.3″

House battery at 7 am: 12.50 volts
7 nm cruised today; 293 nm cruised on the trip overall

We had planned today as a layover day, partly because of wind in the forecast, and partly on the basis of favorable recommendations from other cruisers regarding the attractiveness of Agua Verde. However, we found Agua Verde lacking on a number of counts. To start with, it’s way too popular, and at least one of the big cruising sailboats there has such high electrical needs that their 200 watt solar array is insufficient, and a Honda generator is needed for supplemental power. Also, the bugs were a big nuisance there, and we didn’t find it all that attractive a place. Lastly, if a strong north wind did develop, the low sand spit at the head of the anchorage didn’t look like it would afford much protection.

These considerations made the decision to move to another anchorage an easy one. The cruising guides described Bahia San Marte as a nice, isolated spot with good norther protection if one tucked well up into the cove. It also would afford good hiking and beach combing opportunities, which would be welcome if we got pinned down there for a couple of days. We raised anchor following breakfast and motored out of Bahia Agua Verde. A 3 foot swell was running out of the northeast, and it kicked us around a bit as we rounded Punta San Marcial. We paid close attention to our GPS position, since both cruising guides warned of numerous dangerous reefs in the vicinity of Punta San Marte. Two of these reefs are well off shore, and just barely awash at zero tide. We opted to take the conservative, long way in, holding well east of longitude W 111 degrees, which the chart showed would give us good clearance. As we approached Bahia San Marte we noticed a curious white shape on shore, at the base of the rock cliffs. At first, we couldn’t identify the object, but binoculars proved it to be the wrecked hull of a sailboat. Obviously, we were looking at a victim of the San Marte reefs. This sad sight reinforced and justified our caution as we entered this anchorage.

We were able to tuck in close to shore in the pretty little cove that is San Marte. Despite the winds and swell outside, this place afforded good shelter from both. We were the only boat here, and very happy with our decision to move. We rowed ashore to burn trash and explore the beach. The tide was out, and we found lots of interesting shells here, as well as a large number of stranded jellyfish. We walked out and around Punta San Marte, and proceeded until we reached the shallow indentation where the wrecked sailboat had been tossed from the sea and onto a rock shelf. I scrambled over rocks to reach the remains. I was surprised to see a 2008 Washington State registration sticker on the bow. A jagged hole, about 1 foot in diameter, punched through the bow at water line. The first 10 feet or so of hull bottom was shredded and shattered, bearing mute testamony to the violance of her collision with the reef, which had sealed her fate. The fiberglass keel was broken and askew, most likely as a result of waves casting the hull up on the rock shelf. Lettering on the stern revealed her to be the Hanalei, from Seattle. The hulk had been completely stripped. Only the fiberglass hull, some stainless steel railings and lifelines remained. This vessel had certainly been much better outfitted and equipped than our little boat, and its captain was likely a more experienced sailor, and yet, here she lies. It is a harsh reminder of how fine the margin is between a relaxing, enjoyable cruise and tragedy. We can only hope that Hanalei‘s captain and crew escaped injury. We will do some inquiries in La Paz and on the internet, to see if we can learn the story behind this wreck.

Editor’s note: I did a little searching around and dug up a few clues, but nothing conclusive:

Following our beach explore, we returned to our boat for lunch, and then gathered up beach blankets, umbrella, books, and snorkel gear for a leisurely afternoon on the beach. We set up the umbrella, and enjoyed the solitude of our beach. I put my wetsuit on and snorkeled the close in reef. The water was quite chilly, only 64 degrees, and my spring shorty wetsuit was barely adequate. I could only stay out for 25 minutes or so before becoming chilled. My time in the water was a delight, though. I hovered over a small moray eel, startled a couple large puffer fish, and saw several schools of colorful wrasses. Water clarity was reasonably good, and I hated to get out, but it was too chilly for me to stay in longer. We decided to walk the beach to the south, and hadn’t gone more than a couple hundred yards before we heard an outboard engine, rounding the point from the north. It was a panga, with 3 people aboard. They headed in to the beach, near where we stood. Two young men in their late teens and a girl about the same age got out and began a broken conversation. The point of their visit became clear when one of the guys grabbed his plastic fuel container, gave it a shake, and querried “Gasolina?”. I could see about a gallon sloshing around inside his gas tank. Sandy gathered that they were taking the girl home, and were running short on fuel. Fortunately for them, our refueling stop at Puerto Escondido had left us in good shape regarding fuel. I got in the dinghy and ran out to the boat, grabbed one of my 2.5 gallon jerry cans, and returned to the beach. After making sure they understood that my can held only gas, without any mix oil in it, I poured it into their fuel container. They were very appreciative. The girl gave Sandy one of her shell necklaces, and the guy tried to make clear to me that, if we were still here tomorrow, they would stop by and square up for the gas. I told them “no problemo” and then they were off, to take the girl to her home, somewhere down the coast.

We continued our exploration of the beach, and then hauled everything back to the boat. I rinsed the salt off with the solar shower. Sandy got the fixings together for a great pepperoni pizza, which she baked up on our backpack oven. That little oven does a great job on pizza. With the last half hour of sunlight shining into the cockpit, we lounged on the seat cushions and enjoyed our pizza. As dusk settled, I saw some bright lights to the south. I got the binocs out, and made out a sailboat, headed in to our little anchorage. I had just raised our anchor light, so they had something to sight on. The center pilot house sloop set anchor a hundred yards to our stern. I expect they were very glad to shut down for the night.

April 11, 2008 — Puerto El Gato — N 25 degrees 18′ 14.6″ / W110 degrees 56′ 47.5″

House battery at 7 am: 12.48 — No weather forecast available from Don via Amigo Net
13.8 nm cruised for the day; 306.8 nm cruised overall

Not all days are perfect. This one started out innocently enough. The anchorage was calm all night, and we slept in a bit. Skies were clear first thing, the air and cockpit dry. We decided to treat ourselves to a fancy breakfast. Sandy fixed up scrambled eggs and added the beef fajita mix from the other night. I did toast in the frying pan, and we enjoyed a delicious breakfast. Afterward, I rowed over to chat with the couple on the boat that came in late last evening. They were nice folks, about our age, and gave the impression of being former hippies. They were very eager to chat, and hoped that we would spend the day at San Marte. They offered a movie on board their boat this evening. As things turned out, that would have been the better choice.

However, I felt we should take advantage of the NW wind and move to the next anchorage south, a place called San Telmo. It was only 12 miles distant, and I thought we could manage a downwind run with the wind and seas I could see from San Marte. The run to San Telmo went quite well. The wind was fairly steady, at 12 to 15 knots. Trailing seas ran 3 to 4 feet, but at about 4 second interval. The short wave period caused problems for dinghy. Trailing seas would catch her square stern, and try to push her sideways. We were sailing under jib only, which gave good control of the boat. However, with the dinghy acting up, I ended up motor sailing down to San Telmo. The outboard, running at just over 1000 rpm’s, enabled us to make about 4.5 knots on average, and the extra speed helped dinghy track.

We reached the approach to San Telmo around 1 pm. The anchorage is nothing more than a shallow little bay, situated behind a small island. A reef connects the island with the mainland. Lacking a sharp point, refractive swells swing in around the island, thus making the little anchorage very rolly. Nonetheless, we were glad to be off the main water and securely anchored. Steering during the downwind run had tired me out, so I decided to take a nap.

While I was dozing, Sandy decided to row the dinghy ashore on her own. This is something she hasn’t done before. She handles the oars well, but the water between our boat and shore were rolly, and small but steady waves were breaking on the beach. A stiff breeze added to the challenge. She managed it fine, however, she found the beach to be a disappointment. It proved a bleak place, its most outstanding feature being the large number of dead things, such as ray carcasses, lying about.

I rose from my nap and saw her ashore. I gave a toot on the conch horn, and she proceeded to row back out to pick me up. I didn’t watch very carefully, however. She had a lot of trouble getting the dinghy off the beach, and when she rowed up, I could see a large quantity of water sloshing about in the bottom of the dinghy. I got in and tried rowing to shore further down the beach. However, sizeable waves were breaking everywhere along the beach, so I finally gave up the effort, and rowed back to the boat. It was a tough row, as I was fighting both the wind and 2 to 3 feet swells that kept rolling in.

Once back on board, I got the cruising guide out and studied the harbor charts for both San Telmo and Puerto Los Gatos, another anchorage just 1.5 miles further south. Los Gatos looked to offer somewhat more shelter from the swell, so we pulled the anchor and headed back out. By this time the wind had stiffened a bit, and the swells were significantly higher. Still running very close together, they were mostly 5 to 6 feet, and occasionally higher. I ran with motor only, and had to run away from shore quartering the swell. Once out far enough I swung south. The Macgregor was handling the swell just fine. Our problem was the trailing dinghy. I concentrated on steering, while Sandy kept her attention locked on dinghy. It was a very tense mile and a half, with the dinghy threatening to become swamped several times. I kept experimenting with speed and angle to the swell, in an attempt to find the best combination. I never really did, but we weathered the challenge and finally swung into Puerto Los Gatos. Three other sailboats were swinging at anchor, however, there was plenty of room for us to drop our hook. It did indeed appear to offer better shelter than San Telmo.

This is truly a stunning place. Beautiful beaches encircle the bay, and the north end is defined by brick red sandstone rock formations. They are eroded into fantastic shapes and forms, smooth and rounded in some areas, and jagged in others. The beach in front of the red rock is a deep red in color. We went ashore for a most enjoyable stroll.

Upon returning to the boat, we had margeritas in the cockpit while stew was heating on the stove below. The boat was rocking significantly from the refracting swell. I tried setting a stern anchor, which seemed to help a bit. After dinner Sandy offered to whip up an orange/raison upside down cake on the backpack oven. That sounded just great. However, we hadn’t counted on the radical side to side rocking of the boat. The upsidedown cake was a few minutes shy of being done when a nasty set of swells struck us broadside. The sudden pitching of the boat dumped the covered pan containing the cake off the burner and onto the floor of the cockpit. Now we really did have an upside down cake. Sandy grabbed pot holders and scooped it back together, more or less, and we popped it back on the stove. The swells started getting bigger, timing their impact on the boat perfectly. When it came time to pull the dessert from the oven, a really strong swell hit. The cake slipped from Sandy’s grip and about a third of it dumped onto the cockpit floor. She scooped most of what was left into two bowls. I was trying to keep two cups of tea from sliding onto the floor, while passing the two bowls back to the rear cockpit cushion. I missed my grip and dumped one bowl onto the floor behind the pedestal. This whole operation was beginning to resemble the classic food fight from the movie Animal House. Upsidedown cake was flying everywhere. Believe it or not, we actually managed to salvage two edible bowls, and it was excellent, however, by this time, neither of us was particularly in the mood to enjoy it. The next 40 minutes was spent cleaning the whole mess up. Moral of the story: never attempt to fix an upsidedown cake on board a Macgregor when the mast is swing more than 25 degrees back and forth. And to think, if we’d stayed at Bahia San Marte today, we’d have been visiting with our friends and watching a movie instead of mopping upsidedown cake off the decks. Oh well, not every day can be perfect.