San Francisco Bay
We have started on our last cruise for this season - spring is upon us, summer is approaching, and we are hoping to get some warmer weather and water for this trip, before we button everything up and call it a day.
Varnebank getting ready to host a wedding at sea!
Our first stop was Isla San Francisco, where we met up with Sealevel II and Varnebank. The best part of this reunion is we were part of a Wedding Ceremony at Sea, celebrating the marriage of an old friend of Christy and Ken's. We met the happy couple last year at Seaforth
( our summer land-based adventure with the Donnelly's on Vancouver island) and they have since decided to tie the knot.. time is no friend of theirs and they just felt it was the right thing to do! And as we had already planned to meet up on this trip, attending the mariners' nuptials was a no brainer.
We all had our part to play, and even though the guests on Sealevel II ( Cameron's brother and sister in law) had never met any of the other crew, they had their jobs to do and had a great time.
I helped Ken write the "wedding" ceremony (they were actually already married: first off, Captains of boats do not actually have the right to marry anyone, Ken didn't have a captain's hat so it wouldn't have counted anyway! and marriages in Mexico don't really translate that well back home) and my big part was to ring the bells as he recited the words. Lawrence had a very important job - he had to pour liberal amounts of champagne out for Neptune - have to keep the sea god happy! Christy made the wedding cakes and I helped decorate them (powdered sugar is not readily available down here, so I experimented with something I had read on the internet..yes, you can make your own using a blender!) ...Adrien, the crew on Varnebank for this trip, found some wedding cake toppers and other decorations and accoutrements for a good wedding party.
We had everything - bright flowers, great food, lots of champagne and wine, and good music. It was a jolly evening indeed aboard the MV Varnebank! And Ken looked fabulous - Deacon Donnelly, sorry. Not to mention the glowing beautiful couple. How many times does one get to do a wedding at sea?? it was MARVELOUS!
The bay was absolutely full when we arrived - last count at its fullest we saw 25 boats. Somehow, thanks to Lawrence, we managed to sneak in close to the southern beach, in about ten feet ( at the most) of water. No one else has ventured in close to us, so most of the time when we are sitting on the back deck all we see is the beach. Feels like we are all alone here! Perfect!
Our main time-waster is watching the fish. First day we had a herd of what look like immature (ten inch) yellow tail. They were accompanied by a full-size ( two foot) yellow tail ( we are 88% sure)... who spent a lot of time herding the school, sometimes in long lines that snaked around our boat, or gyrating balls that nudged the side of our boat and created mini whirlpools. Was the big fish checking out the smaller fish for a future meal and making sure they stayed in one place in case he got hungry? or was it a gentler story, an adult fish watching over the young'uns. We speculated and laughed and I resisted the urge to throw a hook and line in the water . Yellow tail... mmmmm.... the next day the big one was gone and the youngsters were still hanging out under us. Other thought is we provide protection from the frigates and gulls. Very clever, these little fish!
We also have a number of puffer fish - or balloon fish - fairly big ones that float themselves up to the surface and hang out around our tender. Are they avoiding the sun? do they feel an affinity to the pudgy grey inflatable? I went out in my kayak and two puffers frantically oared themselves after me - I lowered my paddle in the water and they approached it, food? foe? friend? They have funny quirky mouths that look as if they are smiling, and large almost expressive eyes... we have to get out of here before we start naming these creatures and inviting them for dinner. And not to eat .... we are not fugu fans...
Night time once again brings its own brand of beauty... the phosphorescence here is mesmerizing. I dip my hands in the water as we dinghy from one boat to another, and it as if I have pulled on a glove of stars. My hands glitter after I pull them out of the water, and the water trails are alive with millions of aquatic fireflies. One night when we arrive back at the boat I can't resist slipping into the kayak and doing a quiet paddle to the beach and back, much to the dismay of the captain! But the moon is bright and my way is lit by stars above and below so I figure I'm pretty visible and safe. And in spite of the numerous boats surrounding us, it is remarkably quiet and peaceful ( not like the last time we were in this bay!)
I look at all these fish around us and think that if every boat in the anchorage has their own entourage then that's pretty amazing. Other aquatic herds we have seen are flying fish and needle fish - some smaller fish that look more like our perch.... singletons have been green moray eels.... reef cornet fish...out on the rocks I saw a few of the Giant angelfish, some trigger fish, a fair number of sergeant majors... but not a huge amount of diversity. Maybe we will have more when we get up north. However, we have enjoyed watching our own private aquarium show unfolding around us. And I can't believe I didn't go for that yellowtail... collecting karma points...not sporting to catch a fish that is hanging out around your boat for two days!
Next stop - Agua Verde..
Sea Level II and Northern Ranger left San Francisco and took a lovely long leisurely cruise up to Agua Verde, where our last visit had left us a bit disappointed because of the huge numbers of people on the beach celebrating Easter week. They were having a wonderful time, and I enjoyed watching them all, but my version of Agua Verde is quiet and empty and a peaceful paradise. We came around the corner and were thrilled to see only a few boats anchored. Perfect! Anchoring in 40 feet of water was a bit unnerving, as we have become used to having no more than ten feet under us.. and I love being able to see what's on the bottom!
The water is warmer; according to Cam it's about 76, much nicer for snorkelling and swimming. We did a bit of both while we were there, and I kayaked out to the spire... lots and lots of fish in the reefs and the rocks scattered around ( this is a place where a good chart is necessary, as there are many bits and pieces of reef that appear suddenly in places you don't expect... they would definitely make you go bump in the night if you anchored poorly or chose a shortcut to enter the anchorage! )
A trip to the taco stand on the beach was the order of the day, and we tendered in, very much looking forward to "the best fish tacos in the Sea of Cortez"! We enjoyed our last visit here, and this time we were not disappointed. The owner/cook has a visitor's book to sign, and it was a lot of fun to see how many people come through ( lots and lots and lots!), where they come from, and how much everyone enjoys Agua Verde and their tacos.
Sea Level on tender duty
My take on the tacos? well, unfortunately... they still aren't up there with the ones on the highway by Concepcion. They were good though. And the dog greeters were well received by the members of our party.
At one point one of the dogs was almost in Elaine's lap, giving her very enthusiastic and wet kisses. Unfortunately, as with most of the dogs down here, they all showed signs of some sort of injury and definitely didn't look well fed. I took to the ugliest little scruffiest bit of fur who sat down beside me and patiently waited... gave him most of the fish.... he was a sad sorry skinny mess of mats. The bigger dogs we met all approached us with the cowed apologetic look of someone who had been kicked. As I keep reminding myself, pets are treated differently down here and life is nasty, brutish and short for some. I am a cat person, so luckily I didn't have to deal with seeing starving kittens and mangy cats.
Elaine's new best friend
But Agua Verde still remains one of my favourite places... there are hills to climb, and reefs to snorkel, and beautiful clear green water to swim in... a little village with friendly people ( and dogs) to explore, and even an improved tienda for procuring a few groceries. They have installed solar panels and batteries to run several new freezers and fridges, so fresh food is available. They also had a good supply of basic necessities as well as the not so necessary things like chips and candy and wine.
And on the last day we finally saw the goats wandering across the beach. We still haven't found the fresh queso for sale... maybe next time.
Northern Ranger and Sea Level in paradise!
Lawrence tries out the SUP
Next stop - Danzante. We left Agua Verde and had a smooth run up, not a long day ( nor, again, a successful one for fishing. I really thought this would be the place but no luck! Lots of porpoises, though)..
As we neared Honeymoon Cove we were surprised to see only one boat anchored - which was a very good thing! But then Lawrence checked the weather and figured out why there was no one else there. A relatively big bad wind was scheduled to make an appearance, one that would make anchoring in the cove uncomfortable for the night. Because Sea Level's crew were scheduled to fly out on Saturday, and they wanted to explore Loreto, we all decided that a few nights stay in Puerto Escondido and a rental car would be a good idea. (albeit expensive - they have become the most expensive marina in the Baja... boo hoo)
I was very sad to turn and leave Honeymoon Cove behind, as a chance to hang out there for a few days with no one else around would have been fun, but having experienced that nocturnal wind, I was OK with not subjecting ourselves. Another time!
Spots were found on the outlying concrete breakwater dock again, (not difficult as it is empty) and with the enthusiastic help of the dock guys we were tied up and ready to roll. The good news is wifi, although it is spotty out here, and the pizza oven ( we will find an evening to do that for sure!)
The van arrived, and we all piled in and headed to Loreto for some shopping and some Mi Loreto time ( oh my goodness that is the best restaurant... their rellanos camaron are stupendous) and some intensive shopping. The town was practically deserted, but maybe because it was mid day Friday. Still, surprising... back at the marina, everyone had some wi-fi business to transact and then it was appies and dessert on Northern Ranger II... ( our huge late lunch meant none of us wanted a big dinner!)
some fine margaritas!
the gang at Mi Loreto
waiting for the shoppers
We will stay here another night, and then start to head north after that, although if the weather cooperates a night or two in Honeymoon would be nice. I still want to get up to Juanico, but until we find out when the big pirate party is we may have to forego that. On the other hand, Juanico is big and maybe it would be fun!
Warmer water, warmer weather - hoping that translates into more snorkelling and maybe even more fish! One can only hope...