SEA OF CORTEZ
Shortly after we returned to San Carlos, Kavenga was moved from the dry storage yard to the work yard. Jose, the same young man who had peeled the blistered gel coat off her hull back in May, went back to work on her again. Here you see him taping the water line after having ground out and filled and faired all of the hundreds of small blisters that ranged in size from a BB to a quarter.
Living aboard Kavenga in the boatyard at this time was highly undesirable, if not impossible. Fortunately, we had "Quailie" our Chevy camper van as an alternative. Of the three RV parks in the area, we chose the El Mirador. It's the most modern, the closest to the marina where we hoped to take Kavenga after she was re-launched, and we also had friends there, our old South Pacific sailing buddies, Bob and Janet Pedersen, formerly of Jubilation, now of Kelly Marie. As you can see from this shot, the park was often pretty empty.
It has two tennis courts, a pool, laundromat, first-class restaurant and free wireless internet. Needless to say, we were pretty spoiled. It is nicer than any park we've stayed at in the States.
This evening twilight shot of the RV park from a distance gives you an idea of its spectacular location.
While staying at El Mirador we were treated to visits by a variety of animal life, including large covies of quail (safely out of reach from our Vice President). It seemed like once every two or three days a covey would come right through our camp site. Perhaps they were attracted by their likeness painted on our van's spare tire cover.
Our other most frequent animal guests were coyotes. Almost every night, around eight o'clock they would come around to serenade us with their surreal howls that sound sometimes human and sometimes like aliens from another world. They too, would come right past the van after sunset.
We visited Kavenga at the yard almost every day to check on her progress, but there wasn't much we could do to get her ready to go back in the water until the Jose was nearly complete with his work. So, we found other things to occupy our time.
Here are our friends Janet and Bob, as we prepare to go on a short hike with a group of cruisers.
Although, most of the San Carlos area is quite dry, this box canyon we hiked up had quite lush vegetation due the concentration of precipitation and the shade provided by the canyon walls.
Kavenga is getting closer to being ready to go back in the water. Here is our amigo, Jose (far left), who did all of the work, accompanied by some of his fellow workers, who were hanging around waiting for him to finish as the work day was just about over.
He has just finished applying the second of the two red primer coats that go over the seven coats of epoxy and under the two coats of bottom paint that are soon to follow.
Now with the blue anti-fouling paint applied, Kavenga is ready to return to the water.
A tractor pushes a special hydraulic trailer into position.
Using a remote control box with joy sticks, the yard worker raises the trailer's hydraulic arms to support Kavenga's hull.
Then, very quickly, Kavenga was up and moving out of the yard.
Here she is coming stern first down the road leading to Marina San Carlos.
Kay watches as the tractor slowly backs Kavenga down the ramp toward the water.
At last, Kavenga, returns to her natural environment.
We were very pleased with the job done by Jose and the rest of the workers at Marina Seca San Carlos.
We motored Kavenga about three miles north of San Carlos to Marina Real, the marina that is just a short walk from the El Mirador RV Park.
Before it was time to leave San Carlos and head over to Baja, we checked out this beautiful cove just over the hill from the marina and the RV park.
The entrance to the marina is rather shallow and consequently a good idea to enter or depart at high tide. Since the time of the high tide was not a good time to begin our passage across the Sea of Cortez, we opted to come here, Caleta Lalo, the day before.
We anchored here for the day and then left around midnight to begin the 72-mile crossing to Santa Rosalia on the Baja peninsula.
Santa Rosalia is a blue-collar town half way down the Baja Peninsula from San Diego. As can be seen in this photo, it was once the site of a significant copper mining and smelting operation started by a French company that brazenly exploited not only the mineral resources but also the pool of cheap labor.
Kavenga is in the middle of the sailboats moored at the tiny, 15-berth Marina Santa Rosalina.
The other historic attraction in Santa Rosalia is this prefabricated church. It was made of steel in Europe and displayed at an exposition in Paris in 1889. The owner of the French mining company saw it there, bought it and had it disassembled and shipped to Santa Rosalia. It was reassembled there in 1895.
The unique church was designed by a Frenchman named Carl Gustaf Eiffel. Yup, the same guy who designed a small tower that stands in Paris.
The rest of the journey from Santa Rosalia to La Paz would be a series of short passages from one anchorage to the next. Our first stop after Santa Rosalia was Bahia Concepcion.
Kavenga and her buddy Elusive are anchored here in El Burro Cove, just one of the many beautiful spots in this huge bay that stretches into the distance.
An American ex-pat, Gary, living on the beach here shared his wireless internet connection with us. Didn't even have to leave the boat.
We left Bahia Concepcion before sunrise and were rewarded with this view of our anchorage at Punta Santa Domingo.
After a brief stop at Punta Pulpito, we moved here to San Juanico, one of the more popular anchorages on the inside Baja coast.
The moon rises behind the ketch Harmony and the powerboat Claudacious.
At the invitation of Robert and Virginia on Harmony we went ashore the next day for our very first game of bocci ball. It's a great game for travelers because it can be played almost anywhere.
Carol (yellow) of Elusive partnered with Olivia (Robert and Virginia's daughter, making her toss). The other team besides the two of us were Jay (red) and Harriet (navy) of Claudacious and their team mascot, Mr. Miles.
On the beach at San Juanico this tree has become a "Cruiser's Shrine". Various crews have come up with many unique methods of leaving their boat's name on or under the tree. We chose to simply chisel "Kavenga" into a slab of granite and fill it in with red paint.
We saw the names of many boats that we met and had good times with last year.
Bobby Rohrer, crewperson on Elusive, walks between a lagoon on one side and the Sea of Cortez on the other. There are many mangrove lagoons such as this one all along the west coast of Mexico and in the Sea.
Update 3/5/2006: Received word from Dick of Elusive that Bobby died in a car accident while driving his truck home to New Mexico from San Carlos. He was good man and we are glad we had the chance to know him. The Ornate Auger shell that he found here and gave to Kay now has special significance.
We parted company with Elusive at San Juanico as they headed back north to San Carlos while we continued on southward. Our first solo anchorage on Baja was here on the south side of Isla Coronados.
Although it looks like we are anchored with little protection, and the wind was actually blowing quite hard, we were pretty well sheltered from the sea and swell that flowed around the east and west tips of the island.
By leaving early in the morning before the winds cranked up, we were able to make a move from Isla Coronados to this small but protected cove with the impressive designation, Puerto Ballena.
At night the winds blew to 30 knots, but despite that and the steep shelf that we had anchored on, we did not drag anchor.
We had this lovely anchorage on the west side of Isla Carmen all to ourselves..
It was just a short run from Puerto Ballena to Puerto Escondido (more deserving of the title). Kavenga is anchored outside the main harbor in what is aptly called The Waiting Room.
A company came here several years ago to build a development and marina but pulled out midway through construction.
There are paved streets, curbs, light posts and a half completed condominium (upper left corner). Unfortunately, this is not an uncommon sight in Mexico.
It is not unusual for condo units to be sold before completion of the project. Let the buyer beware.
One of the local cruisers at Escondido, Suzy on Sparta, had a car and was kind enough to give us a ride 15 miles up the coast to the town of Loreto where we were able to buy a few fresh provisions.
This is a very typical small town public market.
After reprovisioning and spending five days getting to know some of the locals in Puerto Escondido, it was time to move on.
This small cove near the remote village of Agua Verde was all ours for a day. We were then joined by two other sailboats, a powerboat and the first of several mini-cruise ships that we were to encounter the rest of the way to La Paz.
We rode our bikes to the village of Agua Verde which is a maze of criss-crossing dirt roads and no services other than a very small grocery store. The village is about 30 miles off the main highway.
Steve's bike had a flat in the middle of town and he had stopped to pump it up. The two little girls came along first and were soon followed by this herd of very curious juvenile goats.
Our next anchorage to the south, was Los Gatos, just a small scallop cut out of the coastline.
The name means "The Cats." At one time it was said that a pair of Mountain Lions made their home near here.
Arriving at this anchorage at Punta San Evaristo gave us a sense of completion in that this was the furthest north we had come into the Sea of Cortez during our 1991 cruise. So in a way we were completing a "San Evaristo to San Evaristo" circumnavigation, and we had now sailed a large loop around the Sea.
We went ashore in the village, which is in the inner bay just out of the photo to the right. We were hoping to donate a lot of clothes and other items to the families of the fishermen that try to make a living here. But for some reason, the entire village was deserted.
It was a pleasure also, to return to Isla San Francisco and once again hike the ridge around the anchorage.
We weren't quite prepared, however, for the mini cruise ship that showed up, anchored and took several dozen passengers and about 20 kayaks ashore (my how times have changed).
Came upon this unusual green lizard on one of our hikes. Didn't seem the least bit frightened of us.
Kay named this formation "The French Models" during our first visit to Ensenada Grande on Isla Partida in 1991. The name still fits.
Just around the headland from Ensenada Grande is this large cove called El Cordenal. We never came in here on our last cruise and so wanted to come in for a closer look. You can just barely make out Kavenga anchored on the far right.
This mangrove lagoon came within just a few hundred yards of cutting Isla Partida into two separate islands.
Here we find ourselves at yet another Puerto Ballena. Duplicate place names are quite common in Mexico, although these two places are awfully close together.
Once again, an excursion vessel or mini cruise ship has come in after us and delivered passengers, kayaks and snorkel gear to the beach.
While Steve was hiking the ridge for photos, he noticed Kay on the beach in an embrace with one of the male passengers.
He was relieved to learn that it was an old skiing buddy, Michael Pahl. Michael's wife, Jean-Marie was acting as the ship's doctor for the duration of the cruise.
Our last anchorage prior to entering La Paz harbor was here at Caleta Lobos.
This concluded our liesurely cruise down the Baja side of the Sea of Cortez, considered by many to be the best cruising grounds in Mexico.