Tuesday, February 16, 2010

"Carnaval" time

Our friend Terry flew home yesterday. We hope he enjoyed his stay...playing pool, sailboat racing, teaching Jordan backgammon strategies, attending Carnaval.

Carnaval runs from February 11th to 16th in La Paz. It sets up all along the Malecon (the strolling walkway along the waterfront) with an explosion of colours, crowds of people, booming noise from music bands, and rides that are exciting and probably dangerous. They display signs stating Atento Aviso, meaning Observe Warnings!

We were tempted into trying out one ride called Turbo Force, a 40+ metre high ride that spins fast with 2 riders in a seat at the top and 2 riders in a seat at the bottom of the frame, round and round, frontwards and backwards, till your heart is pounding in your head. Very nerve wracking!

You sit in this spinning seat pictured at the top here...and the long arm rotates the seat from the top to the bottom...around and around, faster and faster.

Turbo Force

There was also a mini ferris wheel and a mini bucking bronco for children that were fun to watch. Today, the last day of Carnaval, we watched the parade atop a concrete pillar where we had a great view.

Masked man

Check out our Photo Gallery under Baja Mexico for more photos and all the colours.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Race days

On Saturday the 13th, Jordan and I, with our visiting friend Terry, participated in our first ever fun-not-too-serious sailboat race, the 1st Annual Carnaval Perico Marinero Regatta. We figured when we entered the race that we didn't have much chance of winning and just signed up with the other 14 sailboats for the fun and social aspects of the race. We also thought it would be a good opportunity to finally try out our drifter/spinnaker (a light-weight sail used in light winds) that we had never flown before.

Originally, the plan was to race from La Paz to Calita Partida, and then race back to La Paz the next day. But the winds were so slack that all but 2 boats had to finally turn on their motors to arrive at Calita Partida before dark.

But the next-day return race to La Paz was much more exciting. Everyone lined up at 10:00 and started the race, except for us. Jordan was still attaching ropes to our beautiful drifter/spinnaker and Terry was diving down to try and remove tangled fishing line from around our prop shaft. So we did not start the race until 10:30, a half hour later than everyone else.

Right off the start line, our new big colourful, billowy spinnaker filled from the wind behind and gradually we realized we were starting to catch up to everyone and the race was on for us!

Sea Turtle flying her spinnaker (courtesy of SV Yellow Star)

We went from sailing at 7+ knots to almost standing still, depending on where and how the wind was blowing on our chosen path of direction. Then the last quarter of the race, once again, the wind really piped up. We passed several boats, and as we rounded the buoys entering the harbour, it was a neck-to-neck race with 2 other sailboats. But in the last half mile, we nosed past them to the finish line!

Approaching the finish line (courtesy of BajaInsider)

In the Spinnaker Class, our time was 6 hours 20 minutes, and Keetya's was 6 hours 23 minutes. But due to handicaps, we came in 2nd, officially 1 minute behind Keetya, the winning boat. Too bad we hadn't started on time! Congratulations to Keetya! It was a very exciting finish where I was able to be at the helm as 1st Mate, Jordan was a super Captain with his instructions, and Terry was a great crew member. Terry, new to sailing and used to fast cars and motorcycles, stated:
I never knew that racing at such slow speeds could be so much fun!

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Company from Victoria

Terry, Jordan, and Judy at dock of La Paz Marina

We had company arrive on Tuesday the 9th - our good friend Terry from Victoria - so on Wednesday we took him sailing out to Ballendra (off the coast of the Baja where Jordan and I went previously on January 27th).

The next day we moved anchorage to a nearby bay and went ashore with the large camera. We hiked up to the top of a steep hill, around 200 m, and Jordan decided to take advantage of a great photo opportunity looking down. Oops! I had removed the camera card so I could download the previous photos and forgot to replace the card *#/>*!$<*!

So we then hiked down the other side and continued along a road till we got to a restaurant that Jordan had previously spotted in a dinghy ride along the coast. After lunch, we hiked back up and back down and returned to Sea Turtle, without pictures.

Unfortunately, the winds were blowing uncomfortably and Terry was feeling a bit nauseous so we all decided to head back to La Paz where we wouldn't bounce so much. Time to get Jordan's homemade "flopper stoppers" ready to attach as these have a good behavioural reputation to reduce rolling!

Sunday, February 07, 2010

Musical pool

After a great week in the islands, we sailed back to La Paz on Wednesday, February 3rd. The following Saturday, we went to Tequilas with SV Moonraker so Jordan and Jack could shoot some pool on their one pool table. Very cool little bar with the best pizza that we have ever had - anywhere!

During some challenging games against some of the local Mexicans, in comes the Mariachi Band, dressed in white shirts, colourful red scarf ties, and dark black bolero jackets and pants decorated with lots of shiny silver buckles and fasteners. Very hot! They would play their music all around the pool table so the pool players would have to jostle for position, with Jordan having a horn blasted in his ear!

The band that played when the Mariachi group wasn't playing (2 guitar players/singers accompanying canned music - which doesn't sound like it would be very good) was quite exceptional. We plan on coming back another evening to hear them perform again, and yes, play more pool too.

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Los Islotes seals

After a quiet evening at beautiful Ensenada Grande, we pulled anchor to swim with the seals at nearby Los Islotes which is about 800 m (0.5 mile) off the tip of Partida Island of Mexico.

Sunning seals

Jordan anchored to a mooring ball when we arrived at Los Islotes, and as the rain came down, we got in the water with the seals. They played tug-a-war with us with a dangling cord attached to our dinghy and also a cord attached to our inflatable ball. Such a thrilling experience it was to swim with these playful creatures and to snorkel and take in the hundreds of colourful fish below! We've never seen fish in such abundance during other snorkeling occasions, none of which the seals seemed interested in...

what fish?

It started to rain harder and the water was a bit chilly so we cut our adventure short. (We could only take photos of the seals with a towel protecting the camera from the rain so didn't get very good shots.)

We then anchored in a cove just below the white cross (N24°33.469' W110°23.834') which was beside our previous night's anchorage. The wind changed from north to a westerly that blew straight into the bay giving us a bouncy night.

Today from our boat we saw schools of fish too numerous to mention, a ray, a sea turtle, a dolphin, 2 different pods of whales - some breaching spectacularly, swam with seals nose-to-nose. And explored a blooming meadow with beautiful butterflies, ancient midden, and an old well in a gorge spotted with barrel cactus and many other desert flora.

Bright orange and yellow colours

Monday, February 01, 2010

Fish derby & Ensenada Grande

Yesterday at El Cardonel (Mexico), the fishing was great. Jordan caught a total of 5 Sierras and Jack of SV Moonraker caught 3. So Jordan decided to initiate a fishing tournament for today with an entry fee of 2 beers per person.

The day before when Jordan was having problems with his reel, Ian of SV Salish Sea gave Jordan an old weathered Peetz reel on the remnant stock of a broken fishing rod. Jordan was able to get his own reel working again so he embossed the old Peetz with 1st Prize Biggest Fish, El Cardonel, Feb 1st 2010, 1st Annual as the trophy for the event.

Cool prize

They all started from Sea Turtle at 09:30 as I sounded the horn and off went the gaggle of dinghies...

It turned out to be not the best day for fishing. Claes (SV White Shell II) got "Biggest Fish" with his Bonito, Ian got "1st Fish Caught", and Aquaman (James of SV Pyxis) got "Most Fish" (he was diving and spear fishing and caught 2 groupers.

Everyone returned back to our boat for awards and refreshments 2 hours later. Most of the winning beer was drank before the guys and gals returned to their boats. Lots of fun by all.

Boats that participated: China Girl, Dark Star, Endurance, Keetya, Moonraker, Nautilus, Pyxis, Salish Sea, White Shell, and Sea Turtle.

Jordan and I pulled anchor at 16:00 to head north to a rocky cove which was only 25 minutes away (N24°33.814' W110°24.192') where we met up with Moonraker and Nautilus. We had a very easy dinghy landing on the deserted sandy beach, Ensenada Grande, voted the most beautiful beach in Mexico by The Travel Magazine.

Bay of Ensenada Grande

We later explored in our dinghy the many spectacular rock formations and towering cliffs punctuated with caverns, caves, and ledges...

Check out our Photo Gallery for more photos.