Isla Espiritu Santo kayaking December 1-3rd

So I had been chatting with my mexican couchsurfing friends Alex and Eduardo Ysla about taking them out kayaking for a few days to Isla Espiritu Santo. They had helped me out with so much the entire time in La Paz and had become really good friends. It was a good way to spend some time with them and get away from the city and really enjoy all those beautiful kayaks. Our good friend Cesar gave us a ride to Playa Tecolote where we set up to do a fairly significant crossing of about 8km across to Espiritu Santo. We had a great 3 day trip and completely circumnavigated Isla Esperitu Santo paddling nearly 65km.
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La Paz November 19th-December 6th

So we had a fun but hectic few weeks in La Paz, getting things organized, having some parties with friends, working on the boat, doing a big food shop etc.
Steve went back to San Diego to take care of a few things on the morning of the 21st. Greg an old crew who came up with us on Karaka from Golfito Costa Rica to La Paz 2 years ago came to La Paz from Dallas Texas for a visit and stayed from November 21st to December 3rd almost the whole time we were here. It was great to have him back on board with his ukulele and all his classic songs. Greg and our filmmaker Simon came in at the same time on the night of the 21st. I’m not sure how much I mentioned about this or if I had even mentioned it at all but Simon is a Slovenian film maker from Berlin, Germany who caught an interest with Karaka and has been in communication with Tom, Kim and myself over the past year or so. He has successfully raised enough funds to come and join us for the passage to Costa Rica as a crew member and start the filming of “Karaka: The Seed of Change” for more information please visit his site by clicking here. He has also set up a page for Karaka merchandise if you are interested in a Karaka t-shirt, mug etc. and all proceeds go to supporting the film.
So we are constantly a full house on Karaka now with Tom, Kim, myself, Eric, Dylan, Simon and Greg. It can get a little crazy organizing rides to shore and co- ordinating rides back etc.
So when I was in La Paz at the end of October before heading up to Puerto Escondido to meet everyone, I bought a orange Necky Zoar 14ft sea kayak for $6,000 MEX which is about $460 CAN/USD. It was a pretty good deal but unfortunately it had to stay in La Paz for a month until we arrived. Now I have it and can make trips to shore on my own without worrying about the dingy and lock it up under a palapa (beach shelter) or a catamaran. I’d usually take my 4 part paddle with me to be safe since that is an easy item to steal.
A few days into our stay in La Paz, Tom and I encountered 2 more kayaks for sale from a nice guy named Allen from Vancouver Island, British Columbia Canada who had sailed down with them on his boat. They were Delta Kayaks, same brand as the kayaks I used for my big 50 day kayak expedition on Lake Superior back in 2008 except each kayak was only 12ft long instead of 18.5ft. These were particularly appealing to Tom and myself. He had brought down 4 total and wanted to sell two of them and was making a catamaran out of the other two. The kayaks were in good shape and a good fit for Karaka along with the other 14ft kayak the little leaky sit-on-top, a foldable paddle board the aluminum dingy and an assortment of other stuff. They are the Delta 12.10 model and are great for storage on sailboats but are still great in surf, great for week long kayak expeditions and were all around great kayaks. The thermoformed plastic is something I wasn’t crazy about after some problems with cracking when they are stored in below freezing conditions for long periods of time. We didn’t have to worry about freezing so we were in good shape. He wanted $850 each which was a lot of money but a great price considering their condition and the fact there wasn’t anything close to this available in Mexico and if there was there is like an 20% tax or something on bringing things like kayaks and equipment across the Mexican border but since Allen sailed them down we were clear. Tom and I sat and chatted about this for a while. It was a big decision because we had to put a lot of money down but we decided to buy one each and now that we had 3 decent sea kayaks on board we could offer some kayak tours/trips with couchsurfers, friends of other travelers we meet in different places we will travel with Karaka for a good deal and soon enough recover our money for the boats and perhaps make a little extra to help pay for some boat costs, food etc.
The thought of buying these kayaks stressed me out more than it should have but when it was all said and done it felt good to have them.
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I spent a lot of my time in La Paz hanging out with my friends Eduardo and his brother Alex where I got to practice my spanish and share some good meals and get away from the craziness on board. These boys were originally from Monterrey in NE Mexico but have recently in the past few years lived in La Paz. I spent a lot of time with Alex as he helped me out with some Mexican bank problems, showed me around town etc. I learned a lot about customs in Mexico and the Christian faith. They helped me out so much while I was in La Paz, I just can’t thank them enough but I really enjoyed spending time with them.
I also met up with some other friends from my previous visit in La Paz 2 years ago, met some new people and went to a variety of events including a traditional te mescal (sweat lodge), an organic salad making class, open mic nights and a few other good get togethers on the boat and in town.

Puerto Escondido to La Paz – Adventures in the Sea of Cortez on Karaka!

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Karaka in Puerto Escondido, Baja California Sur, Mexico
(click photo here for more pics as they are uploaded)

So I have been back on Karaka for a few weeks now, life has been slowing down for me since I have been on board and it is great! Everythin was quite high-paced and stressful while I was in Canada. I was having a good time of course but I was working a lot, seeing lots of friends, getting everything organized to come to Mexico and on top of everything my parents were in the process of moving out of the house I grew up in so I had to sort all my things extensively and help them out as much as I could. It was a tough decision to leave my home country, family and friends but this is my opportunity and so many things have been calling me back to Karaka and the lifestyle on board. It feels so great to be back here with Tom and Kim and some new crew once again and all the adventures that are to come. Everything has begun to settle in very well. I arrived in Puerto Escondido on the evening of October 24th where Tom and Kim had been with the boat during the hurricane season in the sea of Cortez. Luckily hurricane Paul just missed them. From all the rain, the hills along the coast are all so green and beautiful. The unfortunate part about this is that there has been tons of bugs! 

So we set forth as a crew of 7: myself, Kim, Tom, Eric, Steve, Esteben and Carola. 

Eric is another Canadian from Chiliwack, British Columbia who finished an Engineering degree in Vancouver, hitch-hiked across Canada to St John’s Newfoundland, saw a post from Kim on one of the couchsurfing sailing groups that we were looking for crew for the next month or so and booked a flight all the way down to La Paz, bused up to Puerto Escondido and arrived the same day as me.

 

Steve is from just outside San Diego California who biked down here on his 400CC roadworthy dirtbike all ready for a grand adventure! He has all kinds of travel stories from crewing on another sailboat, living and working in Alaska, Hawaii all over the US and travels in Central and South America.

 

Esteben & Carola are two folks from Argentina who having been traveling in Mexico, contacted Kim & Tom through couchsurfing and had been staying on the boat for a few days and decided to come with us sailing to the islands for a few weeks. Amazing artists and creative individuals.

 

We set off the afternoon of the 26th after a little goodbye party Tom and Kim had with some fellow sailors. The first stop was Isla Danzante just around the corner from Puerto Escondido. The sails and everything had all been taken off incase the storm got really bad so we had to put everything back on so we could actually sail again. We just motored around to Danzante but the engine cut out just as some dolphins came towards our bow. Luckily some fisherman I was talking with earlier made their way over to help us with a tow. Soon enough Tom got the engine running again and we made it safe to our anchorage. The next day we had a hell of a time getting north to Bahia Balandra on Isla Carmen with the strong northernly winds we had. It was only about 14NM but we made it just after dark. The next morning it was Sunday and we left early to make headway for Loreto so we could buy a bunch of food at the local market, check email, buy our park permits etc. We then returned to Balandra and completely realaxed for a few days, snorkel about, and do some work on the boat. The bugs here were absolutely horrendous! and bug mesh protection just wouldn’t cut it… they were so small they would just get through! We couldn’t leave right away because there was a problem with the engine. We also wanted to have a fire somewhere not so buggy for Kim’s birthday on November 2nd. Turns out we had no wind on the 2nd so we waited and eventually had enough wind to make our way to Isla Corinados the next day for a few days and have a lovely fire on the beach for Kim’s bday., relax do some boat work, snorket and adventure about. We waited for the following monday to sail into Loreto to see if Tom could find the part we needed for the engine. He had no luck but ended up make-shifting something and the engine is working for the time being until we get to La Paz. We topped up on food and such in Loreto and our Argentian friends Esteben and Carola decided to leave us to continue their travels north to meet some family in Tijuana and make their way back through main-land Mexico. We one last nice evening with them said our goodbyes the next morning and Tom, Kim, Eric, Steve and I were off sailing south with some niece wind. The wind died late early evening but we wanted to get into Isla Catalina in the day because it was an unfamiliar anchorage so we bobbed around all night taking watch shifts and eventually the next morning the wind picked up and we were moving once again. Tom discovered with the engine problem there was fuel leaking into the bilge and he had emptied the bilge without thinking but in doing so accidentally disposed of 40-50 litres of fuel in Puerto Escondidio before we left so we were short on fuel to power the generator to get some of the power tools going for some more involved work on the boat. We tackled other projects and did some adventuring at the very beautiful isla Catalina. We promised some couchsurfers that we would try to meet them in Agua Verde on the Sunday or Monday and we had great winds on the Saturday so we decided to make our way there and had a beautiful close hauled sail directly into Agua Verde 18NM southwest of Isla Catalina.

 

Agua Verde was a very beautiful bay with huge scenic cliffs, epic rock pillars in the ocean everywhere you look and an amazing rocky lookout on the peninsula with amazing views of the bay and the sea beyond. The town itself did not have too much but we were able to buy some basic food items and some cold beers. we waited until monday evening when we heard a call on the radio that our new crew member Dylan had made it. Her friend had backed out on her but she had an epic adventure getting to Agua Verde from San Jose del Cabo and it was great to have her join us. Dylan is another Canadian from Alberta but more recently Quadra Island, British Columbia, she had been in Mexico almost a month and was looking for a boat like ours to join. She brought a banjo with her so we had a nice jam session with the banjo, guitar, fiddle, accordian and other instruments into the night. The next morning we set out heading southeast towards Isla Santa Cruz to the smaller island just south, Isla San Diego. We had some big waves and long sail but it was great, caught two skipjack tuna and cooked up a great rice and fish dish in the somewhat sheltered anchorage of the highcliffed island.

 

The wind picked up and shifted directions in the middle of the night leaving us quite exposed. Our anchor was secure on the rocky sea bottom but the chain had wrapped itself around a boulder several times during the night making an awful racked of a noise. We managed to have someone in the water guiding us as we monuvered the boat back around to get the anchor chain untangled. We had a northeastern wind that helped us continue to sail south towards Isla San Jose. When we reached San Jose there was a strong current opposing wind which soon changed to be in our favour as we made our way down the western coast of Isla San Jose. The wind calmed and we decided to motor our way to Isla San Francisco so a nice safe and sheltered harbour on the southern part of the island. Immediately upon arrival we went fishing and Tom caught a night cabrilla that unfortunately got away. Fishing was tough here but we managed to catch two smaller fish to go with our dinner. This was a nice calm and sheltered harbour and we all slept well. We relaxed for a few days, did some work sanding the deck and scraping the hull. We did a bit more spear-fishing with minimal luck, it is obvious that Isla San Francisco is overfished. Lots of other yachts pulled in during out stay. A few of us went for a final walk on the beach and we were off around 9:30am on Saturday November 17th. We were off in minimal winds from the southwest which veered nicely for a while to the west and we sailed on a good line for several hours until it veered back south and we were beating. We decided to motor that last third of the way towards Esperito Santo. We pulled into to the sea lion rocks on the north point. There was lots of tourist boats and people swimming with the sea lions. We had trouble getting on one of the small moorings and it was also too deep to anchor with current and wind. Tom dropped us off to go and swim with the sea lions for 10 minutes or so. It was incredible! there were so many sea lions of all sizes swimming every where around us. We made it back on board to hook around to the next bay just southwest of the rocks to anchor for the night. We cooked up a pumpkin coconut fish curry and it was excellent.

We relaxed for a few more days in the NW bay of Espirto Santo, went for some hikes and snorkeled around. Excellente Tiempo!

We left mid day on monday November 19th and used the north wind to sail all the way to la paz arriving just after dark around 8pm.

Now we are in La Paz organizing waiting for crew and old crew to come visit! Stay tuned for photos and more information but for now we are in La Paz for the next few weeks then Mazatlan and off to Costa Rica!

 

all the best for now!,

 

Zack