Cruising ~ The Cat’s Meow Style ~  July & August, 2007

Balancing work and play



As this is written, we are preparing The Cat’s Meow for a month alone on our mooring in Puerto Escondido, which is just south of the village of Loreto, Baja California Sur. We will be driving up to the States, taking care of business and seeing family and friends. We hope to be back to our boat, our home, within a month. Leaving the boat during hurricane season is difficult, and to be quite honest, neither of us looks forward to the hustle & bustle, expense, noise, and general feeling we encounter when we are “up there”. But… we do enjoy seeing the people who live there, and that makes the other stuff bearable. Anyway, we are getting The Cat’s Meow buttoned up, preparing her for hopefully anything that could come along while we are gone, securing everything and leaving her on a good stout mooring in a good location.

Both of us have enjoyed the last two months thoroughly! It was grand having Robin’s cousin Sharla aboard for her visit in June, and seeing so many of our friends when we were in the Pto. Escondido area. Since Sharla’s visit, we have been anchorage-and-island hopping in the Sea, near Loreto, our favorite village on the Baja. The weather this summer has been awesome: we have had some hottt days, and weeks, but most of the time the temperatures have been lower than the norm and the water did not warm up until mid-August. This is all very unusual. We expect the daytime temps to be over 100 degrees continuously from about mid-July on, and for the water temps to be in the 80’s and into the high 80’s, by August. Cooler water temperatures mean that the water has not been as clear as we like it for diving, but it also means there have been no (or almost no) aguamalas. Those are nasty little teeny tiny stingy things that you often can’t even see in the water. At this writing, the last week of our cruising this season was the best for water temperatures and clarity. Marvelous!!! Snorkeling was just wonderful! The nights have been clear and cool, just right for sleeping on the top deck, watching for the meteor shower.

However…. all of our time was not spent enjoying the water. After Sharla left the boat, our almost brand-new generator decided to have problems. Big problems. This is not a good thing when the generator provides most of the energy for the boat while at anchor. Martin spent days working on it, trying to get the thing to produce the power it is supposed to, and that it had been doing previously. Also, the injectors to the engine had problems. They were putting diesel into the oil – not a good thing. Martin spent many a day, hours at a time, working on them, too. Because the generator was not producing the power it is intended to produce, the watermaker would not run, so we had to make water while we were underway, running the engine. Then…the washing machine… well, you get the idea.

Aaahhh well….. in the meantime, we were having a good time watching MANY rays jumping and flipping and “flying”, hitting the water with big belly-flops, sounding like gun shots, all around the Sea! Sometimes we could see two or three jumping near each other, sometimes there were at least 10-12, often jumping in unison. It was quite a show. One night, however, they were so active it was difficult to sleep! We think it is part of the mating dance. We tried to take photos of this phenomenon, we just could not capture good shots, but here are a few anyway:




One anchorage we enjoyed is called Candeleros – a nice wide anchorage with a long white beach, which is supposedly going to be covered, some day in the not-too-distant future, with a huge resort. Ugh. We think it is just beautiful the way it is now, and we hate to think of it being “ruined” by “progress”. Aaaahh well…..while at Candeleros along with our friends Dave & Carolyn on Que Tal, we were invited for breakfast at the Danzante Resort. This resort is a small, quiet, eco-resort built to blend in with the natural surroundings, owned & operated by our friends Mike & Lauren. We enjoy seeing them, and the great food and beautiful vista at this resort.



View from Danzante Resort – TCM & Que Tal in the cove                                          Dave, Mike, Martin in the dining area of Danzante Resort


For the past few years, the anchorages at the islands all up and down the Baja coast have been made somewhat uncomfortable by the presence of bees. LOTS of bees. Honey bees, which thankfully are not aggressive. They are looking for fresh water. We have had a few bees at each anchorage this year, but nothing like the previous two years. Thank the gods. Another phenomenon that occurs each year in this part of the Sea of Cortez is the annual run of the large and the smaller squid.  From about early June through July, the squid run from somewhere north of Santa Rosalia down to around Agua Verde.  Along the way the smaller ones, which average about two feet in length, swim in huge schools around the boat at night, chasing other food sources and each other, then beach themselves and die. This is part of the mating thing as well, we think. All very interesting…except for the AWFUL SMELL after the squid have been laying on the beach for a few days. The squid usually choose to beach themselves on certain beaches at certain anchorages, so at least those cruising usually know which areas to avoid for a while….

Martin is known in these parts as “Mr. Lobster –o”. He is real good at keeping fresh seafood on the table, and his specialty is those little crawly things, referred to as “rock rabbits” by the cruisers. Besides the typical types of lobsters, there is the prehistoric-looking slipper lobster, which is almost all tail. Yummy! We also dine on fresh fish (sometimes in fish tacos), scallops, and the occasional blue crab.



                                    “Rock rabbit”                                                                                               Free swimming (Lion’s paw) scallops


Meanwhile, back at the boat…..the generator problems also caused the windlass (the motor & apparatus that lowers and lifts the anchor) to have problems. Thank the gods we had a DC motor that Martin intended to exchange for the electric one. No time like the present to take care of some things, right?! Now the anchor works purrrfectly, thank you.


When Martin isn’t hunting & gathering……..   he might be fixing a windlass.


What was Robin working on, you might ask? Or was she just sitting back and enjoying the water, sun, and sand? While her projects were not so dirty or even so necessary as Martin’s, she did some sewing: covers for a variety of things on the boat, the quarterly re-oiling of the teak rails, and she even had a chance to clean Martin’s shop!! Now, THAT was fun. Of course, there is the ever-present planning, shopping, and preparing of meals. Notice there is no mention here of cleaning the boat.

Back to the fun part….. while trying our best to balance the work and the fun while out here at the islands and anchorages, we hopped from island to island. There are about five islands within a few hours’ travel near Puerto Escondido and Loreto. We spent most of our time at different anchorages on Isla Carmen, which is one of the larger islands in the Sea. It is within the federally protected national park system; however, it is a privately-owned island. The owner has established a herd of big-horn sheep on the island, and offers (probably very expensive) hunting excursions to those who choose to partake of such a “sport”. Isla Carmen is, to both of us, a beautiful desert island. Within a few miles, on any part of this island, one can find very different types of topography and plant life. Most of this island is volcanic (as well as the others in the Baja) which lends to its awesome and interesting rock formations. There are canyons, cliffs, old volcanic craters, beaches, points, and even an old salt flat on this island. In an attempt to show you just a little of the different views we enjoy at Isla Carmen, here are a few photos:



                        Isla Carmen coastline, near Marquer anchorage                                                                         One Isla Carmen canyon                                                                                                                                                                         




                                            Marquer anchorage                                                                                          Part of the coastline on north end, Isla Carmen


Some of the other “wildlife” we have seen so far this cruising season are blue footed boobies – they are sooo funny looking, sitting on rocks with those silly blue webbed feet -- orca whales, pilot whales, perigrins, eagle rays, and of course an entire sea-full of tropical and edible fishes! Friends of ours, Dave & Carolyn on Que Tal, hooked-up with a sailfish while in their dinghy earlier this summer!! Blue whales were being spotted well into June – not by us, unfortunately. The Sea of Cortez is known as “the aquarium of the world”, for good reason. However, the local fishermen as well as the large commercial fishers are perilously close to eliminating the good fishing enjoyed by many for decades. Hopefully the relatively new agencies who are actively trying to stem that tide will be able to act quickly enough to save many fish species and to teach the fishermen – and their sons – different means of making a living.

One of our favorite anchorages is called San Juanico, which is on the Baja coastline. It is a large, multi-lobed bay, with little rocks (islets”), reefs, and five beaches to explore. This anchorage can be quite rolly, however, due to swells that come into the anchorage especially during a good “blow”. That is why we wanted to have “flopper stoppers” before we went to this particular place. (Flopper stoppers hang in the water at the sides of the boat while at anchor and help to cut the swell and the rocking from side-to-side, which can be very uncomfortable.) Martin decided to make new ones, since he didn’t think the ones we had on the boat were heavy or big enough. Another project. 


 Making new flopper-stoppers, on the nice new top deck


San Juanico anchorage is where Robin wanted to be for her birthday on August 3rd, and there we were! Friends on Milagro, Maitairoa, Blew Moon, and LightHeart shared the anchorage and her birthday. The day of Robin’s birthday was purrfect, she says. She and Martin had a great snorkel on one of the many reefs, the weather was sunny and calm, warm with a nice breeze. About 6 p.m., Jo from Milagro and Sue from Maitairoa came aboard The Cat’s Meow and took over the galley! They had been working on their own boats in the heat, brought the fixin’s to TCM, and cooked-up a spectacular lobster & scallop pasta dinner! Carolyn of LightHeart and Gail of Blew Moon brought along the rest of the good stuff, and we had us a party on TCM! Jo, knowing what a choco-holic Robin is, also baked onehelluva cake, which was enjoyed by everyone! What a great day. Thanks, everyone!



Gail (Blew Moon) blew us some bubbles!                                                                       Carolyn (& Robin) supervised Jo & Sue, cookin’ up s storm



                                                 Birthday dining at sunset, San Juanico cove, top deck of TCM                                   Birthday wish time…..for  more of the same!         


Chubasco: a storm cell, originating somewhere over the inland mountains of Mexico, usually with strong winds and lightening, sometimes rain which can also be quite heavy and strong, that “hits the beach” and travels over water. During July, August, and September in the Sea, we are ever cautious and watch the skies carefully for these storms. Here on the Baja side, the chubascos usually hit after midnight, and they usually last about an hour, although some stick around and make life miserable for longer periods of time. This summer has been unusually mild, quiet, and calm. However, while we were anchored at the north end of Isla Carmen along with LightHeart, one very large, very strong chubasco paid us, and most of the rest of the Sea, a visit. TCM was at the La Launcha anchorage, which in this case was a good position for this storm, since it came from the south-southeast. We were tucked-in close to the island and facing south, so we didn’t have any “fetch”, which is the space & time for the water to build from the winds as it comes toward the boat. Good thing, too, since we had gusts in the high 30s and the 50s (that is in miles/hour). TCM did fine, we didn’t find any leaks, and we finally got to sleep around two a.m.

As we are preparing to leave our home, our boat, on our mooring here in the port, we are asking the universe to continue to send this part of the world mild and calm weather. No hurricanes. Just as we are getting ready to leave, a low-pressure has formed south, off the coast of Mexico, but thankfully did not blossom into a full-fledged tropical storm or hurricane. We have only had some good winds and rain, and it appears to have spent itself as we bring this epistle to a close.

Oh, one last thing……

Can you see the cat face on the window shade? Hmmmmm………. Look real hard now…..   see it?!  


Is THIS the Cat’s Meow??


As usual, we thank you for visiting our site, and we hope your adventures are all ones you choose! Y’all come back and see us again, Cruising  ~  The Cat’s Meow Style.