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July 2, 2007 - Independence day is almost here. Supposed to be a big party up at Conception bay, but we are happy here in Ballandra. We left Bahia Candleros a couple days ago and headed up to Escondido to top up on diesel, gas, and water. We had a great sailing day. It was blowing about 15-20 knots. After we had everything topped up, we drove up to Loreto. The anchorage is totally open, but we got lucky and had settled weather, We were able to spend the night and go to the farmers market on Sat. morning. While Eileen was at the market Scott from Masquerade and I went on a Propaneintheass run. You have to take a taxi to the outskirts of town, but after all was said an done, the price added up to about the same price we paid in La Paz. Finally was able to upload all the new stuff to the web page too. We saw some type of sea snake yesterday while snorkeling and Eileen saw a sea turtle while snorkeling this morning which was quite exciting. The camera is officially crap. It will now turn on and work for about ten minutes before crapping out. Something is burned out. I disassembled everything and cleaned all the connections. The good news is that since this camera is now a couple years old I can pick up another one cheap. In other news, we are going to order a Rocna anchor. Our CQR anchor sucks! This single most important item on our boat, is going to send me over the edge. So I have decided to buy one that actually works. It's hard to believe that people have put up with the substandard anchoring abilities of the CQR, for all these years. Anyway, we are planning a big potluck for tomorrow night, should have about six boats of people on the beach. 

Ballandra anchorage entrance______Ballandra anchorage beach

Ballandra Pano Movie

July 5, 2007 - The potluck was a big hit, everyone pigged out. About 2130 we started getting a few mosquitos so everyone adjourned to their respective boats. Yesterday there wasn't enough wind to fly my big american flag, like we do every 4th. So we tied it to the boat hook and did a one dinghy parade around the anchorage. For good measure I used my air horn to make damn sure everyone came up on deck to see us go by. We also had an impromptu dinghy raftup, because the folks on Imagine thought there might be fireworks in Juancalito. So everyone rode out to the mouth of the bay to check it out. Unfortunately, there weren't any fireworks to be seen in any direction. Today we hiked overland with the Sailsoons, to the other side of the island. It was quite a hike, we made it to the top of the mountain on the other side overlooking the salt flats, and Salinas. Salinas is an abandoned town. Sort of like some of our old west ghost towns. They have it guarded so that people don't wreck the place. They hauled salt out of there for about 200 years. I guess it's not the money maker that it used to be. Anyway, it took us about 5 hours round trip over varying terrain. We were all pretty wasted and out of water by the time we returned. 

Salinas Bay from the top of the mountain. Isla Carman______Salinas Panorama
 

The mountain above Salinas______John and Bridgett from Sailsoon
 

Looking back to where we started our trek______Ballandra cove from the mountain top

Salinas Bay Movie (8 mb)

July 6, 2007 - Today Eileen bought a Hawaiian sling from La Solana so that we could do a bit of spear fishing. We tried it out at a reef that that we hadn't been to before. The Sailsoons also went to try their luck as well. They have a real spear gun and John was able to spear a couple nice sized fish. I was able to kill a big hawkfish, so we all had a nice dinner over on sailsoon, trying out all the different fish. Tomorrow is market day again in Loreto, so we are driving over there, to do that and take care a of a bunch of Internet stuff.

July 11, 2007 - Not much to report. We are anchored in Juancalito for the time being. We will be hopping around the islands near Loreto for about ten days, as I have a flight out to San Diego on July 20. I am going up to pick up our new anchor and a couple other small items to bring back. We are busy today running around Loreto. Had  massive fish bake on the beach last night. The couple from Delphin Solo provided a massive amount of fish that they had speared that day. Everyone from five boats were packed and there was still fish left over.

Eileen sporting one of her hot weather outfits______The eye of the elephant...see the little hole in the rock

Juancalito Pano Movie (9 mb)




July 12, 2007 - RAIN TODAY! Today was the first real precipitation we've had since we left Arkansas. It sputtered and spit for a good portion of the day.   We went into Loreto yesterday via taxi and bought a spear gun.  We are the great white hunters.  It is really nice to supplement the meat with fresh fish.  Of course, we are also able to trade for fish, shellfish, etc. where it is legal/available.  We met our friend Kris and got our Gerry Cunningham cruising guides and charts (half price $100 from another cruiser).  They are much more detailed in certain areas that our other guides don't cover.  Since we originally hadn't planned for a season in the Sea of Cortez, we decided to forego this expense, but found them desirable after we got here.

We have had a series of potlucks and gatherings on various boats and beaches, with and without kids, sometimes reasonable and sometimes booze saturated.  We are having an amazing time sampling local fare and meeting cruisers as well as chatting up the locals.  And we still continue to gain strength sometimes in spite of ourselves.  But, when you eat fish almost daily, beans, tortillas, and loads of fresh fruits and veggies, you're bound to improve.

We left Juancalito for a small anchorage called Denouement south of Honeymoon Cove at Isla Danzante (dancer) on Sunday.  The coves are so small that you must use a bow and stern anchor.  This was a new experience for me and I got very nervous, much to Jamie's frustration.  I can't help it.  It was a flawless anchoring experience, but a little stressful.  Jamie and I have done lots of hunting with our spear and sling, but I have been singularly unsuccessful.  Thank goodness we are not relying on my survival skills.  We'd have starved already.  I get an A for effort. 

July 16, 2007 - Today we motored to Isla Carmen to anchor at Marquer.  It is only about an hour from our last anchorage.  The water is very warm here, we'll get the hull cleaned again this afternoon when it's good and hot outside.  Jamie is flying home for 4 days next week, so I have been practicing my singlehanding.  I sounded the bay and anchored by myself today to be sure I wasn't going to have any issues.  It is really not difficult.  We do the same things every time.  It's just a little more labor intensive without a lackey to do the grunt work.  So now maybe Jamie won't worry about me being alone for a few days.  Woo hoo!  We have lots of boats out here willing to buddy boat and help if needed.  I don't foresee any problems, it should be plenty of fun.

This evening we went over and hung out with Maitairoa for a few hours. They have ice.... Wahoo!

The Flying Cloud in Bahia Marquer

Bahia Marquer Movie (15 mb)

Flying Cloud at anchor Movie (5 mb)

July 17, 2007 - I have had a lot of people ask about why we are ditching our CQR anchor. FYI - The CQR works good in mud and soft sand. However, in many of the anchorages the sand is quite packed and hard to dig into with the CQR. It sometimes takes us 3-4 tries to get the thing to set. Which doesn't lead to very high expectations of a good reset when you swing around. Additionally, since I am pulling up the chain by hand, it makes me pretty irritated. I have talked to many folks down here and the ones that are using the CQR regardless of size, say the same thing. The CQR just doesn't inspire confidence. Other traditional anchors, like Bruce, Delta, etc. Have a better track record down here. Have a look at the Rocna online. There was a report published by West Marine of 14 different anchors, many of which I never heard of. The gist of it, was to test, the distance to set, and then measure when, and at what point it would break out. Basically, the CQR came in dead last in the testing, with the Rocna at the top of the list. The CQR does a good job up north where the bottom is softer. I'll publish a short follow up report, later on, to let everyone know how we like the Rocna...stay tuned. 

Today was a pretty lazy day, since it was pretty cool temperature wise. We lazed around the boat most of the day. In the afternoon Eileen and I went snorkeling on the west reef. There wasn't much to see, so Eileen practiced her diving. Once we were loaded back into the dinghy, Alex from Maitairoa came over. He had been trolling around the bay in his dinghy. He informed us that he had just seen a whale shark! So I immediately put my gear back on and we drove into the vicinity. I jumped in, and swam with it for quite a while. It was awesome! This was just a baby, about maybe 12 feet long. Swimming alongside this huge beautiful beast was quite exciting. Eileen was scared at first, but was finally convinced that they are harmless. So got in while Alex held onto our dinghy. She was only able to see, sort of the "tail end of it". Hopefully, we'll see another one in our travels. (Jamie)

July 20, 2007 - I brought back some tofu this morning from the reef, before I left for San Diego. I even traded some for a ride to the airport. The airport in Loreto is just a glorified palapa with some blacktop out back. 

July 29, 2007 - Jamie went off on his Loreto to San Diego errands while I stayed with the boat in Juancalito.  It was a nice break for me.  I got a lot of projects completed.  I recut the forward sun cover so it binds tightly when hung, no more noise on windy days.  I also modified the sail bag for our genoa, the head sail.  The old sail was rope luff and smaller.  The new sail has a wire luff and doesn't fit the bag nicely.  This made us very lazy about stowing the sail.  The sun is deadly to sails, so I added an extra four feet and more fasteners to make it easier.  We use it every time we drop the sail, now.  I also attached fasteners to our bimini, the back boat cover and side screens so we have lightweight hanging screens to block the sun, not the bugs.  It has made a big difference in our comfort during the sunrise/sunset hours when it seems to scorch all those exposed.  It was an uneventful time for me with the exception of the powerboaters and jetskiiers who all used Flying Cloud as a drive-by target.  What a drag - all weekend long.

Jamie returned on Monday without luggage.  His boxes were left behind when his LA connecting flight didn't manage to get luggage transferred.  We did various boat projects and waited for delivery until Wednesday at which point Jamie finally got through to the airport and found that customs wanted to look in the boxes.  After a quick trip and no delay, the boxes were opened and he was able to go.  No fees.  They just saw the shank to the "old rocna anchor we had in storage" that was covered in old paint and marks.  Nothing valuable there ;)

We attached the new anchor the same day and, of course, it set instantly.  To thank Jimmy and Melanie and Leina Ala for their help, car rides, etc, we went to Loreto for happy hour and clams at a bar on the malecon and then had pizza and drinks before returning happier than we'd been in several days.

On Thursday, we left Juancalito for a motor sail to Isla Coronado just northeast of Loreto.  It was a nice anchorage, another instant set for the Rocna, and a relaxed night.  There were a few large powerboats, but no one we had met, charters, I think.  We even watched some old Lovejoy episodes on the computer, we had so much power!  In the morning, Loreto pangas with day renters came bombing into the beautiful white beach with palapas starting at 7am.  Not our thing.

Isla Coronado (13 mb)

San Juanico South (15 mb)

San Juanico North (10 mb)

San Juanico shore rocks




Again heading further north, we sailed by San Juanico, but the swells were from the east and northeast (odd this time of year) which made both the southern and northern end rolly, so we continued to a little cove called La Ramada on Friday afternoon and dropped the hook with Momo and Moonhunter.

Learning about clams...______Ryan escorts us into La Ramda.

We learned about chocolates, an excellent clam that can be found anywhere in these waters.  Of course, they are illegal for gringos, so we didn't collect or eat them.  We just learned about them...  In the afternoon, swells turned northeast and were making La Ramada Rolly, so we moved on.  We checked out Saquicisimunde, but it was very uncomfortable and too exposed, so we tucked in behind Punto Pulpito for a nice evening.  We steamed our dinner and dipped it in butter and garlic.  Delish.  Necessary remains were tossed overboard.

Today we went snorkeling early.  It was the best snorkeling so far in the Sea of Cortez that I've experienced.  We saw tangs and angelfish that were over a foot long.  Many many new varieties.  A few new colorations on fish in mating season.  It was awesome.  We caught a common jack (Cravalle) and grilled it for lunch with beans and rice.  It was the worst fish I've ever eaten.  Soft flesh, dark meat.   We kept the leftovers for dinner, though.  No wasting what we be taking. 

Pulpito Point______Pulpito point showing the through cave at the end

 Pulpito Point (9 mb)

Pulpito point some rocks

We left Punto Pulpito in the afternoon and motorsailed, again <10 kts wind, and dropped the hook in a gorgeous reef protected cove called San Sebastian.  It is big enough for one boat on one hook or two boat with bow and stern anchor.  We are by ourselves.  Last night and tonight are the first time ever we've had a place to ourselves.  It's a nice experience to get away from the rat race.  Yes, there are crowds even among cruisers.  Too many potlucks, parties, boat gatherings, etc.  I get cranky and need my space.  I think Jamie could live in the thick of it and never grow tired of it.  Plus, we need to get a little further north before we go to San Carlos to pick up Adrian.  3 weeks and both our vacations are over and he's back to school and we're back to wearing clothes...HA!

We had a new camera disaster.  Jamie bought a very nice waterproof camera whose viewing screen filled with water the first time it was actually used.  He wrote a nastygram to the company re: false advertising.  Hopefully it will be remedied.  We are back to the sporadic honor of the old camera and it's will I turn on today whims. 

As a weather update, it's 90-100's everyday and water is about 85 degrees.  It is no longer cool and refreshing, but it's better for hours of snorkeling and afternoon naps.

Anchor UPDATE: So far the Rocna has been everything we ever dreamed of in an anchor. Sets the first time every time, and holds. If anything changes we'll let you know.

Recipe oftheMonth:
Quick and easy Tempura Batter (from the Peoples Guide to Mexico)
1 cup white flour
1 cup cornstarch
1 heaping Tbsp. baking power
1 or 2 egg yolks (optional)
1 tsp. salt
water

Sift Flour and corn starch together, then add the other ingredients. Mix with enough water to form a batter the consistency of light pancake batter. It take one to two cups of water. Depending on how heavy you like the dough.

We've used this quite a bit to deep fry squid and fish.

July 30, 2007 - Just thought I'd jam one last thing in here for the end of the month. Pics and video of San Sebastian. This area is completely devoid of fish. So don't plan on coming here for great snorkeling or fishing. The locals drive there gringo pangas all the way out to the nearby island (San Ildefanso), so that they can catch a little something. Otherwise, it's a pretty nice little anchorage. It's quite tight, with room for two boats if they both use stern hooks. There are a couple of huge reefs at the entrance, which normally break all the swell. 

lush palm trees and one of the gringo palapas______san sebastian south reef
 

Our new WiFi antenna. This thing works awesome. From Radio Labs______San Sabastian exerpt from Gerry Cunningham guide
 

San Juanico anchorage exerpt from Gerry Cunningham Guide______Leopard Grouper in rare gold phase
 

Bahia San Sebastian (13 mb)

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