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

GOPR0497
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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sea Kayaking the Sea of Cortez – Playa el Coyote to Loreto Nov 10-20th, 2010

So everything worked out well. Matiss felt better, we had all our food, water, gear together and our fantastic couchsurfing host Bill in Mulege graciously offered to give us a ride down to the NOLS basecamp at Playa el Coyote in Bahia Concepcion. We showed up and found Ramon’s cousin Clemente who we couldn’t get a hold of to touch base earlier with but when we showed up he set us up with all the gear we needed. We set off by like 2pm on the 10th of November into the beautiful clear waters of Bahia Concepcion (click any photo below to see entire album).

SANY0300

Matiss did quite a nice detailed entry of our trip fresh after it as he flew back to Canada when i flew to Costa Rica to start another crazy adventure on Karaka. Below is a great map he created showing our route with campsites and points of interest on a google map. (Also click here to view and read Matiss’s detail trip log on his website)

Click here for a google map of the kayaking route with labeled campsites and points of interest.

We had a hell of a time trying to get out of the bay with the strong prevailing north winds but we finally made it around and had several days of big water requiring us to have very early days and lots of afternoon time to explore the shoreline.

SANY0489
SANY0421
SANY0658
SANY0492
SANY0633

We met up with Ramon and his NOLS course in San Nicholas, got some more supplies and made it around Punta Pulpito, one of the most exposed points in the Sea of Cortez.

IMG_0819
IMG_0900
SANY0654
IMG_0840
IMG_1029
IMG_1045
IMG_1159
IMG_1215

All in all we had a very excellent trip and made it to Loreto on the 20th of November, left the boats with Ramon’s other cousin Pingui (spanish for penguin) and bused back up to Mulege to stay with Bill again.

For more detail on the trip please read Matiss’s Blog:

http://matisslife.blogspot.com/2010/12/baja-odyssey-pt-3.html

http://matisslife.blogspot.com/2010/12/baja-odyssey-pt-4.html

http://matisslife.blogspot.com/2010/12/baja-odyssey-pt-5.html

http://matisslife.blogspot.com/2011/01/baja-odyssey-pt-6.html

tomorrow morning we attempt to hitch-hike to Puerto San Carlos to meet our next Couchsurfer Staci.

Mulege, Mexico… prepping for the sea kayak trip

I am actually updating on the correct date for once…

So we had a slight change of plans… in my previous post Matiss and i were going to sail to La Paz from Cabo San Lucas. We came back from San Jose del Cabo all full of groceries and ready to go only to find out the captain had found other crew and decided to sail to Puerto Vallarta (PV) instead of La Paz with us… sucks but what can you do… since we were so set on the idea Matiss, Anna and i tried all day to find another boat to crew on to La Paz… Anna having a more open schedule and that she was a beautiful girl, had no problem finding a boat and found another space going to PV. Matiss and i kept trying but had no luck… we spent one more night at Anna’s place and helped her move out and we took a bus first thing in the morning to Mulege… i almost didn’t make the bus because i needed to get some pesos out from an ATM… i tried 4 before i found one 6 blocks away from the bus station and had to run back just in time to make the bus… The ride was 12 full long hours of desert and watching spanish/english dubbed movies and one movie with spanish subs but english commentary… no one seemed to notice but us…

We met an awesome mexican named Roberto from Ensenada taking the 22 hour + bus ride from Cabo to there… he knew good english and told us all about mexico and places to check out when he was a tour guide out of mexico city…

Bill, our host graciously waited and picked us up at the bus station… now to get ready to kayak for 10-12 days… got to spend the next few days getting ready… below see view from Bills house.

SANY0248

Bill is an interesting couchsurfing host, a retired american he’s been living in Mulege for 11 years. He gave us a tour of the town and showed us the old jesuit mission that what built during the sad time of colonialism. Please click here to read Matiss’s much more in depth description of our experience in Mulege

SANY0292

Mulege is a very interesting little town. It lies in a river valley and it quite lush. In September of 2009 they were devastated by hurricane Jimena and the entire state of Baja California Sur declared a state of emergency. They have started the reconstruction to move the town to higher ground but it isn’t nearly as nice as this quaint little village that is a beautiful oasis in the desert landscape of Baja California Sur.

IMG_1236
SANY0257
IMG_1232

While we were getting ready for out trip Matiss was not feeling to good. Bill was kind enough to drive us around to all the super markets in town and i got most of our food together and organized for the coming trip. Hopefully Matiss feels better and we can get down to the NOLS branch in Playa el Coyote in Bahia Concepcion, get a hold of Ramon’s brother Clemente, get our boats, pack them and be off…