Peregrine Falcon

Friday, November 27, 2009

Still Learning

Our friends Doug and Retha have made it to La Paz on their boat, Still Learning. I post their last few blog posts with their permission:

From Bahia Santa Maria to Bahia Magdelana was a short run of about 40 nautical miles to our anchorage at Man O War Cove. Water temperature continues to climb and was around 73F and an azure blue. Fishing has been marginal but we did manage to land a nice dorado and had several strikes, but no hookups. We have seen many whales and the occasional school of dolphins. The pacific dolphins like to bow ride, while a smaller, darker species comes to the boat but doesn't bowride. I think they are just looking us over and they like to surf the stern wake. The coastline has a stark beauty with miles of barren beaches and steep rocky coastline.

The small fishing village at Man O War Cove was hit hard by the recent hurricane and every building showed the damage. Many of the villagers are sleeping in makeshift tents and starting the rebuilding process. Lobster season opened for the fisherman on Nov 15 so there was much activity related to setting traps and harvesting their catch. Fresh waster was in scarce supply, so we donated many gallons from our tanks and water maker. We also had brought several boxes of clothing, which we gladly donated to help the villagers recover. In exchange we received many thank yous and several lobsters. It was interesting that the fisherman were also harvesting the larger periwinkles that are relatively common in the inter and subtidal areas. Several fisherman were bent over a large rock on the beach and with a large hammer were breaking the shells and extracting the succulent but chewy snails inside. The children of the village were beautiful with wide smiles and were eager to trade shells they had collected for dollars. Even though the village had been heavily damaged there was an operational internet cafe and several small shops with limited supplies. We picked up some bananas and fresh bread. The small church was missing most of its roof and its heavy wooden doors, which had been blown away, were now back and leaning against the front wall. Both of the church bells had survived the winds.

The run from Man O War Cove at Mag Bay to San Jose del Cabo was about 200 miles. We traveled slowly at about 8 knots fishing along the way. We had several strikes and one dorado and one break off which spooled us. I believe it must have been a large wahoo. Water temperature was in the high 70s and it just keeps getting bluer. We all stand watches, which works out to be three hours on and six hours off. This provides enough time to get some decent sleep. Night cruising is a new experience for us and we rely heavily upon the radar and AIS, a relatively new electronic addition that every large commercial vessel must use. The system provides much detailed information about the vessel, and most importantly, its speed and course.

There was some moon last night and the stars were spectacular This adds to the majesty of night cruising and provides some light to see the other vessels. On the previous night runs it had been totally black and there were some issues related to keeping all white lights off and using just red light for keeping our night vision. We had bought expensive night vision binoculars with IR but they turned out to be useless for seeing anything at night relative to seeing other boats and lobster trap buoys in the water. They will be sent back to the seller.

We planned our cruise to round Land's End at daybreak so as to see Arch Rock. With the rising sun and the golden glow of dawn we saw the cape in all its glory on an azure sea. There were whales spouting all around as the fishing fleet was making its daily exit from Cabo San Lucas. Their boats were filled with gringos hoping to catch the big one!

From Lands End and Arch Rock at Cabo San Lucas to San Jose del Cabo is a short run of about 17 miles. We had been lugging the diesels all day and night so it was way past time to wind up the turbochargers and give the engines some exercise. We made the run to the marina at Puerto Los Cabos in about 90 minutes with several stops to watch whales. I believe we saw humpbacks but no positive identification.

The entire coastline along the south cape is completely developed with condos, hotels, resorts, timeshares, and has little remains of the old Mexican villages common only several decades ago. As we approached San Jose del Cabo, the large rock breakwater stands out from the pastel colors of the developments and the tan scars of future construction sites. The marina is still being developed, but it is modern, clean, neat and well designed for boaters and sport fisherman. We were quickly checked in and the the coastal inspectors were efficient and courteous.

It is only a short ride into town. The small town was clean, well built, and the people were friendly. The shops are filled with traditional handicrafts and there are many upscale shops with nicely crafted wares. The town plaza is a jewel of traditional architecture and, of course, the church is the centerpiece in the open square filled with fountains and statues honoring Mexican educators and scientists. We loved this place and had a wonderful lunch and enjoyed the shopping and strolling along the streets. There are many real estate stores, as this area is believed to be a future Monterey of the cape. While development and growth appears inevitable, there has been an attempt to capture the best of the Mexican culture and art while catering to the lifestyles and demands of the monied tourist.

At the party last night we won the award for the boat with the "Best Sense of Humor" mainly because of our boat's name. However, this distinction was also achieved because of the gaiety associated with backing into our slip with a nasty cross wind. Yes, we are truly Still Learning.

Tomorrow we are off to Bahia de los Muertos for one night, then we go to our final destination for this leg..... La Paz.

We did it!! Still Learning and her tired but happy crew arrived in La Paz on Thanksgiving afternoon. The seas were rough yesterday (Wednesday), so we set a hook in Bahia de las Muertes last night for a little rest before the last leg of our trip today. We awoke to the roughest seas of our journey, but Still Learning held up well and was so stable that only a few items flew off the counters today.

Tonight we have our farewell party to say adios to many new yachtista friends. We hope to see them on another FUBAR in a couple of years.

We have many beautiful photos, and I will upload them to this website as soon as I have reliable internet service.

Thank you for keeping in touch through our blog.

Retha and Doug
M/V Still Learning