This fall as we transitioned from Restless and the Alaska adventure to Carmanah and continued cruising in Mexico, a whole lot of boat projects were tackled. The biggest, grinding down and refinishing the aluminum toe rail, we’d been putting off for several years. Doing jobs like that in the heat of San Carlos is not fun. We ended up spending 10 days in the boat yard—- often starting at 4:00 am to beat the heat. But it’s done and we’ve almost forgotten the whole affair. Once we were in the water, I fitted new 1” hand rails in place of the old lifelines. Pretty nice. However, our Tecnautics refrigeration system failed when we tried to start it (spent a ton on replacing the compressor last winter) so we opted to buy a whole new pre-charged (plug-n-play) system which we drove back up to Arizona to pick up. It installed easily and we were finally off to the Baja Nov. 10. After an easy, all sail, crossing we were surprised to find a very green desert on the other side. The Baja has been getting tremendous rain this fall. We got there in time to experience two tropical storm type events ourselves. Mostly involving a whole lot of rain, several inches at a time. Kind of cool because in 4 years cruising this area, we have experienced almost zero rain and very few clouds. We had a nice Thanksgiving in La Paz anchored off the town, turkey dinner with friends at the Dockside restaurant. Pretty cool and windy though. By December we were itching to cross to the mainland for some warmer weather. The trip from the Baja to Banderas Bay usually involves at least two nights at sea but this crossing we stopped at the beautiful Islas Marias (just 1 night). The chain of 4 islands is 60 miles off the coast. We’ve always been required to skirt them by a minimum of 12 miles because the largest island has been the site of a federal prison since 1905. The prison was closed last February. Things are in limbo as government agencies work out the logistics of transitioning from prison to a National Park. We’re hoping they move quickly because except where the prison was, the islands are pristine. The reefs are covered with a wide variety of marine life and the blue footed boobies dominate the shoreline. It would be a shame to see the reefs “harvested” the way so many others have been. We’ll keep our fingers crossed. We’re currently in La Cruz getting ready to head south around Cabo Corrientes to the Barra Navidad area for Christmas
We needed a new primary jib. Resurrecting this long ago retired #2 became the best option. I used contact cement to glue long strips of Pentex fabric cut from an old mainsail to reinforce the failing leach of the sail.
Bob and Donna helped me run the sail through the sewing machine to finish the reinforcement. It worked pretty good, we’re still using the sail almost exclusively when underway.
We finally got on the road to Mexico in mid October, opting for the diagonal across Nevada route. We love the miles of nothing. Kinda like crossing a sea.
Lucy loved our motel that was home during the haul out. Really good air conditioning topped the list of things to love.
Donna and Suzie (of White Raven) after a day of bottom work in the San Carlos boat yard. Ugly work. Mojitos that night never tasted so good they offered.
Thankless job grinding the aluminum toe rail down to clean, bare metal. Homemade scaffolding and Tommy Bahama shade helped a bit.
Carmanah finally heading back to the water. The boat yard is about a mile inland.
Carmanah looked so good with out stanchions or lifelines it was tempting to do without. But cooler heads prevailed. The do help keep people, dogs, and sail on board. Also great for drying wet towels.
Installing the new handrail. We brought everything down with us. the new stanchion bases are machined out of G-10, a corrosion proof composition material. The poor Honda van was riding low.
Our master canvas guy, Paulo and his wife helped me load our dinghy after he made brand new chaps to protect the top side. They’re even in Carmanah colors.
The anchor windlass didn’t work for the first few weeks because oil had leaked into the motor. New gear box, cleaned motor and it all works now and my back is almost recovered.
After the handrail project, Lucy was exhaused. Much deserved nap.
Carmanah finally out of the boat yard and cruising Baja. We had Agua Verde all to ourselves for a few hours.
We rode out the first storm in Puerto Ballandra. Shore leaves were wet affairs.
Leaving La Paz. The veggies are fully armed.
The Marias are on a direct path from La Pas to Banderas Bay. Our course is in yellow.
The crew of White Raven immediately dove in the 82 degree water and swam over upon arrival to the Marias (San Juanico) from the Baha. Only 34 hours. Underwater visibility was 40′ at times.
Puerto Balleto on Isla Maria Madre is the site of the former prison and the Navy base. We requested permission to come ashore and look around which was denied but they did give us permission to anchor off the town for the night. We decided to move on. We hope the transition to national park happens soon so we can apply for permits to visit this beautiful place. We’ve been told that it could be several years though.
Guard stations dotting the coast of Isla Maria Madre must have been a deterrent to unwanted visitors and departures from the island.
Carmanah and White Raven at anchor on the southern most Maria, Maria Cleofos. Only 60 miles to La Cruz.
The “Jail-break Posse”. We had a farewell happy hour with the 3 other boats who joined us in the former prison islands–the Marias. The 3 fingers pointed down is for M.
In La Cruz, it’s finally warm enough to warrant putting on the new sunshade Paulo constructed in October for us.