Kathy has left the boat

Sunday 15th May.
We spent Saturday provisioning for the next month afloat. The plan was to deliver Kathy to an American Airlines flight to Phoenix, departing from Loreto on the 26th May, in 11 days time. I would then spend a couple of weeks slowly making my path back to La Paz, where the boat may well remain in dock until the hurricane season has passed later this year. 

We had a last meal with Arturo at a vegan / veg venue that has nightly music.

Cappuccinos bar/venue
A farmer brings his donkey and baby donkey to the town square

We left around 10:30 on Sunday on slack water and sailed up to Isla Partida, a four hour trip. Two days previous, Carlos had been with his cousin and scrubbed the bottom of the boat, it made a huge difference and we raced along in a light wind doing 5-6 knots. We were soon anchored in our favourite spot at Candeleros enjoying a very calm evening.

Sunset somewhere, Partida?

Later that night we watched the Total Eclipse of the moon in its full glory. 

Monday 16th
Up early for the 4 hour sail to Isla San Francisco, or Franciscito as it is also known. Again we sailed the whole way in a strong southerly, A walk across the island to the east side for exercise and then I made Guacamole for our dinner.

This old turtle has known better days

Tuesday 17th
A short hop up the channel between The Baja Peninsula and the island of San José and into the small fishing village of San Everisto. There was a strong southerly still blowing and the waves had been building all night, as we left the protection of the horseshoe bay it hit us full on the beam, the period of the waves had the boat rocking like the pendulum on a grandfather clock, and a lot of crashing noises filtered up to the cockpit from below. Kathy dashed down to protect what she could. On deck everything was fine and I enjoyed the lurching around, after 15 minutes we turned to starboard and put the wind and waves behind us. Out came the sails, off went the engine and we settled into a couple of hours of fast sailing.

Normally we would anchor in a small cove away from the town, but I had been told there was a nice beach restaurant there and I wanted to check it out. The bay has a spit that comes out and to get protection from the swell you have to tuck in behind the spit in quite shallow water. There was already a 45ft yacht there and so we went in front of them anchoring in just 3 metres of water. By the time we had swung with the wind, we were directly in front of them, but with 60m between us, given the short scope of 20m of chain I had out, I had no worries about us hitting them, but they called me on the VHF saying they were concerned. I let them know we were well dug in and I was sure in the lightish winds there was no chance of us dragging, but they were worried that it might be a problem as they were leaving at 5am. I couldn’t understand why that would be an issue, but assured them I would listen on CH16 and they could call me when they left if there was a need. As it turned out their anchor chain woke me up and they left without any issue. I’m still confused by the whole thing, as they had a boat that looked setup for sailing around the world, they were quite elderly, and I presume very experienced, so what was the problem?  I worried if I might get like that in ten years time.

We went ashore and I immediately recognised the restaurant as one that Jim and I visited over 2 years ago. We had drinks and promised to return for food, which we didn’t. Jim and I bought a Parga fish here from the neighbour who I recall had a very cute toddler granddaughter who was amused by us gringos.

San Evaristo

Wednesday 18th
The next leg is always tricky, going north from San Everisto, up through the San Jose channel, there isn’t anywhere to stop out of the waves for the night, unless it’s a northerly or westerly wind, any southern component in the wind will cause waves to build through the channel and creep into most anchorages, the nearest safe place is Agua Verde, but that’s 8 or more hours to the north. However the southerlies were still blowing strong and so at 9:30am with the sails up we left and were making great progress. I could tell that the anchorages en route would be too rough so we settled into a long ride to Agua Verde, arriving at 19:30 to find a crowded bay. There must have been about 15 yachts and a few motor boats there. But it’s a big space and we found a nice spot near the beach and anchored in 4 metres of water. We would spend the next 4 nights here. 

Agua Verde
Kathy starts to Kayak
Kathy delighted to find her retirement home

Monday 23rd May
We left Agua Verde at 10 am, heading north we had many options and I wanted to see how the wind played out as we sailed up towards Loreto. Had the sea been rough, we would have gone into Puerto Escondido, taken a mooring ball, and ordered a Taxi for Thursday to get Kathy to the Airport, however the sea was very calm. The winds had dropped off a lot, and although southerly still, were generally around 5 knots in the daytime, picking up in the evening. We also had 4g on our phones now and I could get decent weather forecasts showing very calm days ahead. Basically it looked like we could anchor anywhere now and be fine. So we went to Juncalito, a small strip of beach with some fishing shacks and a row of gringo houses/trailer truck huts. It seemed lovely until we heard some Mexican Banda music, followed by some very rude US Rap songs blasting from the beach.Several groups had setup there for a days outing and had brought along a PA system that would be better suited to Glastonbury than here.  I wonder if it’s because they don’t quite speak English well enough to get the lyrics that they let their children dance to this stuff, Even I was blushing, I’m not even sure it’s legal what the Rapper was suggesting! Fortunately as the sun set, they departed and left us to enjoy a quiet evening.

Tuesday 24th 
We left early for the Coronados, an island and islet just a few miles north of Loreto, where we will enjoy a day before Kathy’s flight is due. 

Kathy in the Coronados

Wednesday 25th
A great day walking the beach, snorkelling and relaxing. Today is Kathy’s last time here, I doubt she will visit these islands again, but who knows what BA 25.1 or CC 22 might bring.
In the morning we sail down to Loreto, anchor and then go ashore so Kathy can get a Covid Test, required before flying into the USA, in the evening we go back ashore for a farewell meal at ‘Mi Loreto’, where Kathy can enjoy a Mexican Vegan meal.

Kathy’s first encounter with Mole, a yummy Mexican sauce.
The very old mission at Loreto, where it all started on the Baja for the Spanish

Thursday 26th
Up early and we lug Kathy’s 23 kg of potatoes, biscuits, stale bread and kitchen tiles into the dinghy. In no time at all we are in a taxi on the way to the airport. Kathy Checks in, and has a 2 hour wait for her flight, I get a taxi back to the supermarket, provision up for a few days and head for the dinghy, only to be accosted by the API (port Manager) that I need to visit the Port capitanía in his office up the road with all my papers. Something I haven’t ever had to do here before, I’m a bit miffed, but I shouldn’t be, I really should have checked in when we arrived. Normally this is done for me when I go into the marina here at Escondido. So I dinghy out to the boat, get my papers and head back to the office to join a queue of other sailors in the same boat, well not literally, but all queued up outside the capitania’s office. When I do get in it seems I am missing a paper, the original entry clearance into Mexico from 2 years ago. He is not very happy with me for not having it and I explain it must be on the boat but it’s not in my folder because I have never been asked for it, he says he must see it, or he can clear me in for a fee. I explain that I will return with it, he again asks why I don’t have it with me and I can pay the fee, I explain that in Cabo San Lucas, La Paz, Santa Rosalia, Guaymas, San Carlos and Mazatlan, I have never been asked for it, this makes him more abrupt with me. I explain that I can bring it in on Monday when I clear out and he is happy.
I leave feeling like I can’t deal with authority anymore, and wonder if my hobo life on the waves is going to make it difficult to reintegrate with land based officialdom, I’m already getting stick from banks and the like wanting to know if I’m still a British resident!.
Back on the boat I quickly find the form, and then file it away, haul anchor and head back to the Coronados. Ten minutes into my trip I see Kathy’s flight take off, it’s heading right over me but with her side looking down, so she will have a perfect shot of Sister Midnight, putting along, dinghy in tow sailing up the Sea of Cortez, I bet she doesn’t have her camera ready. As it turns out, I’m right on both counts.

I do accidently record a ray while snorkeling here. It has amazing markings

I kill time by polishing stuff

Soon I’m anchored and snorkelling with the rays and sergeant majors. Kathy is starting her long trip home.

Friday – Monday 30th
I spend a few days just chilling in the Coronados, internet is good here, but on the Monday it’s time to start heading south. I stop off at Loreto, provide the required paperwork to a smiley friendly capitanía, buy some fresh fruit and sail onto Agua Verde for more chilling. I bump into a few hundred dolphins out lunching on the way, they don’t mess when they go out to eat as a group, almost feel sorry for the small fish.  

There’s only a few of us here in AV now, 3 sailboats by Wednesday, I buy some of the local goats cheese, but I’m reminded of the comment in the Navionics app from a guy who spent two days here violently sick, blaming it on food poisoning after eating said cheese. Not sure that should be in a nautical guide, especially when there’s little mention of the huge rock in the middle of the bay.

Gorgeous bay at Agua Verde
But a widened road and new gate portends development?

Sunday 5th June
It seems I have spent 6 days in Agua Verde, The southerly winds are staying strong, not massive at 10-15 knots, but it means a lot of motoring to get south, after 7 days I opt for the first day when they drop to just 10 knots and head out at 7am when it’s flat calm. Once out in the main sea, the wind gradually picks up and by 2pm it’s blowing over 15 knots with fairly big waves, causing the bowsprit to dip into the water occasionally. I push on anyway, as it’s not worth tuning back and waiting another week or more, I’m going to burn a lot of fuel, but it’s ok given I got the northbound trip for free on the same winds.

At the last minute I decide to turn into the protected bay on the Northside of San Everisto for the night. I’m all alone here and it’s very sheltered and peaceful. An early start and I should be in Isla Partida, just one hop from La Paz by tomorrow afternoon.

Monday 6th June
I head into Bahia Candeleros, as we did on the way up, I have the place to myself as a strong westerly wind is due and there will be waves. I’m not fussed, but the boat does end up bouncing around in the night, but all is good and I still get a good night’s sleep. I manage to film a Mobula ray jumping out the water after I kayak over to a group of them and follow them around the bay.

Tuesday I head back to La Paz, anchor overnight so I can get the morning low water / slack tide the next day and on Wednesday at 11 am I’m back in the marina in my usual spot.
It’s been a good trip, and now Kathy has left I can start doing the bigger messy jobs around the main cabin. But first I need to book my flights home for September, and also organise Visas for the USA and Mexico, more on that next time.

Paul Collister
16th June 2022

Popping to Mazatlan

21st April 2020
Location on google maps

As I mentioned in the last post Kathy fancied a trip to Mazatlan,  she hasn’t been there before and although I had spent plenty of time there thanks to pigeons and strong weather, it seemed like a good run for the boat. Mazatlan is 240 nautical miles from La Paz, we plan our trips based on averaging 5 knots, which is 5.75 mph, or the speed of a good jogger. So it works out that 240/5 is 48 hours passage non stop. Leaving at midday on Easter Sunday meant we would miss Easter Sunday in La Paz and arrive midday Tuesday. If we made good speed, we would arrive at best at first light Tuesday, and if we were slow we should still get there before sunset. The plan was to head for one of the three Marinas in the newer part of town to the north.

I suppose we must be getting the hang of this sailing thing as we didn’t fuss over preparing for two nights at sea, one trip to the supermarket on our trusty bikes sorted out the provisions, a couple of hours organising various ropes around the boat, sheets, jibe preventers etc and we were ready. We would have left early the following week, but Sunday was meant to have the only decent blast of NW winds for a while so we wanted to catch them, however as Sunday approached the forecasts showed lighter winds each day. The forecasts turned out to be quite accurate in the end and we left under motor for a few hours until we cleared Isla Espiritu Santo and caught some good wind.

Isla Cerralvo (East side, ski resort development?)

For the next 24 hours we flew along at between 5 and 7 knots. However the waves were much bigger than expected and were more on the beam, causing a lot of rolling and a small of amount of crashing inside the boat. The new Basil and Jade plants took a hit. The second day the wind left us, so on went the motor for the rest of the passage. Six hours before Mazatlan the wind picked up to ten knots on the nose, and the waves started to build from that direction, so it wasn’t the best of rides, but as we approached land the wind calmed and the waves dropped making for a lovely sunrise and entry into the old commercial harbour anchorage. 

All in all it was a good passage, we were joined by dolphins and a few whales, one young whale coming very close which worried us a little, we didn’t want any agro with the mother. A hundred miles from land a gull decided to rest for a bit on Sister Midnight, it circled several times getting closer each time, before finally trying to land on the arch at the rear of the cockpit, sadly it didn’t see the vhf AIS antenna sticking up and flew into it. It broke the antenna off and also lost control and fell into the water behind us in a most ungracious manner. I think it was ok, it recovered its composure and sat on the water until we were out of sight. The AIS Antenna is now held together with gaffer tape and seems to be working. We had a full moon to enjoy, Kathy got to see it rise on her first watch and I saw it the next night. After sunset and before the moonrise the sky looks amazing, so far from land with no clouds the Milky Way is very clear. It should be better on the way back with no moon at all.

On passage it dawned on me that as Kathy would mostly want to see the old part of town there was no need to go to the Marina district, it’s pricey and requires a taxi to go anywhere. We are so self sufficient on board now that anchoring in the harbour where we can use a nearby dinghy dock for $3/day and we can walk to the old town seemed the obvious choice. Once I had a 3g cell signal I messaged Dirk who had stayed in the old harbour before and he confirmed it had everything we needed. The only problem here is that they built a huge waste water treatment plant next to the harbour and when the wind blows the wrong way it’s a bit whiffy. Also you need to bring your dinghy onboard at night, but that’s a wise thing to do in any anchorage. 

I won’t bore you with details of our trip around town, other than my highlights, which consist of buying some amazing Atún Ahumado (Smoked tuna) from the market, along with some very tasty Manchego cheese. Hopefully Kathy will post a blog with her first impressions of the place.

Friday 22nd April
I have been trying to take advantage of the local produce lately, Fresh Mangos, Pineapple and Melon, all very cheap and wonderfully fresh and tasty here. Today I made Agua de Jamaica, which is also know as hibiscus tea, it’s a very Mexican or Latin drink made by boiling up a load of Hibiscus flowers with various spices like cinnamon and ginger, straining it and cooling it. I made 4 litres which will last for a few days. It’s very refreshing, especially as the days get hotter here.

Jamaica flowers, cane sugar, cinnamon stick and herbs
Agua de Jamaica

Chafe problems.
This is a big deal on boats especially when doing long passages,  I noticed that the plastic jerry cans that I have on deck to carry spare fuel had worn thin underneath. I expect 10 years of rocking ever so slightly around on the hard non-skid deck covering has shaved off some of the plastic and two of them will have to be ditched. The last thing I want is 20 litres of fuel sloshing around the deck. They are tied down, but must be moving just a little. I also noticed the mainsail is looking bad where it rests on the aft lower shrouds, the batten sleeves are cut through.

So we headed off to the hardware store today and I bought some non skid matts which I cut up and put under the cans to help remove the friction there. I wanted to buy some of the foam pipe lagging, readily available back home, the stuff you put on water pipes to stop them freezing, but I failed to even get people to understand what it was, freezing pipes is not something people know a lot about here! I did find some flexible stuff 1” outside and 5/8” inside, presumable to protect pipes so bought a few lengths and I have attached them to the port shroud to see how they work, I figure we might have northerlies on the way home so that would be right, but looking at the forecast later it seems we might get southerlies, in which case I will be wrestling them onto the starboard shrouds crossing the Sea of Cortez.

Monday 25th April
We hauled the anchor up and left the harbour in the morning. We headed to the marina area in the north where there are two fuel stations. The forecasts showed that we may well be motoring all the way back, so we would need to top up the tanks. My plan was to get fuel and then anchor overnight off one of the two islands that face the main malecon and leave Tuesday morning early. To get to the marinas with the fuel you have to enter a somewhat treacherous channel, the entrance gets battered with big surf and is very shallow. Best avoided at low water with any wind/waves.

However it turned out to be close to low water when we wanted to go, but there didn’t seem to be much surf. I phoned up the marina El Cid to see what conditions where like. The number I called didn’t want to talk to me, I wrongly assumed that I had a wrong number, I searched the web for El Cid marina and was put through to the marina office, I asked if the channel to the fuel dock was ok, and got into a strange conversation, based around everything being fine, but they needed my passport details and visa info. I thought this was odd, but went along with it, then she asked were my last port was and I stated Mazatlan harbour, thinking that might stop the questions, but then I was asked how I got there from Mazatlan and had I come via the Panama canal. I told her I didn’t think I had and surely something was wrong that she should ask me such things. I was transferred up the chain and it became apparent I was talking to El Cid Marina in Cancun on the other side of Mexico in the Atlantic!
I then phoned the original number, this time with my microphone turned on and spoke to the friendly staff at El Cid Mazatlan, who said, the channel was clear, deep and I should head in without any worries. If any attorneys are reading this, can you get in touch please 😉

We headed in, I knew from previous trips that it is only deep close to the breakwater and you really have to hug the wall, way closer than is comfortable, as we approached and started our turn, a big roller raced in behind us and lifted the stern high, pushing us forward at which point we hit the ground with some force, the wave continued to lift and spin the boat, the bow swung to port violently, and Kathy thought she was going to be thrown out of the cockpit. I could see we were seconds from having the bowsprit ripped off and being thrown onto the wall. This was the first time I ever thought we could lose the boat in all the scrapes we have been through. However the big wave raced underneath us and lifted the boat out of the silt we had grounded in and I turned hard to starboard, gave it max revs and we swung away from the wall and into 7 ft of water and out of the waves. A quick visual check and the boat seemed to be intact and behaving and I started breathing again. I doubt my actions made much difference as the wave had so much power in it I think it threw us wherever it felt like. We refueled and I spoke to the staff on the fuel dock who didn’t understand when I explained the problems I had had, they just said it was very safe and I would have no problems. I felt it was best to leave right away and get this behind us rather than sensibly find a spot for 3 hours to let the tide in, so we headed back, running aground on the way out, with Kathy exclaiming horror as the depth gauge showed us dropping to 1.7 metres, we need 2.0. I wasn’t too worried about driving into the surf, especially as I was turning into it this time, so full revs agan, and we slid through the silt into deeper water, turned into the surf and we’re away. I won’t be returning at low water again, that’s for sure.
We had a pleasant night at anchor, despite many tour boats arriving and blasting out their music. A few boats would arrive with a mariachi band on the bow.

Tuesday 26th April
We left our anchorage around 07:00 to try to get back to the La Paz area before night on the 27th. We ended up motoring for most of the trip and arrived at Bonanza bay at 3:30 on thursday morning, slept for 7 hours then headed back to our spot in the marina arriving at slack water around 14:00.
The trip back was notable for the number of Jellyfish, Portuguese man o’ war, turtles and various other creatures we saw. No wind and flat seas makes these much more obvious.

Pictures of Mazatlan as we wandered around:

Lovely colour schemes
Our favorite drinks spot
The Cathedral
Tree of the day
Can’t get away from these guys, very odd statues though
Malecon at the old town end
The Main Mercado
Just lovely
Someone’s dream car once?
He’s about a foot long
Sister midnight at anchor
Up by the lighthouse
SM behind
The old town
A trip toStone Island
Love the music here

Paul Collister
30th Sept April 2020

Spring has arrived, and it’s getting hot

Yes it’s officially spring here and the temperatures are rising, usually in the high twenties most days, sometimes hitting the thirties. The nights are cool enough to make sleeping easy. However I remember last year and trying to work on the boat and kicking myself for not doing the big jobs while it was cool. So with that in mind I have decided to make a big push on the boat varnish and paintwork this week. I’m up at 7:30 every morning and Arturo arrives at 8:30. Together we scrape off old varnish, sand and proceed to get 7 new layers of varnish on all the wood.

Other jobs are being fitted in. This morning after hearing a joke that went “Q: What’s the easiest way to double the value of your boat? A: Fill it up with diesel” We poured all the cans of fuel into the tank and took a walk to the petrol station to fill up. The price of fuel in Mexico hasn’t changed at all, but is expected to rise a lot. Mexico is a major Oil & Gas producer, but somehow manages to lose money on every barrel it extracts, don’t ask how, that’s just Mexico.

Not used to my fish in this form

We met up with Dirk and Sylvia for drinks after Sylvia returned from a quick trip to Germany. They will leave in a few weeks for the South Pacific. Dirk has done his research well and should have a good passage through French Polynesia if all goes to plan. They are busy filling the boat with dried goods and doing final checks and modifications for the long passage from here to FP.

Snacks at Harkers bar overlooking the Malecon

One of the strange jobs I started was on the port Lewmar winch. It was seizing up, this can be due to old grease, but I had serviced the winch only a year ago, and this didn’t seem right. Once apart I could see the top half of the self tailng flange was corroded, this is down to the usual mixing of dissimilar metals. In this case an aluminium alloy and steel. The corroded aluminium was flaking off as a powder and falling down the shaft into the top bearing. I cleaned it up and rather than waste a stack of anti corrosion compound, I decided to make a gasket / washer to separate the metals. I will know in a year when I next service them if it worked.
My main worry is why after 35 years of being fine should it suddenly fail. I presume salt water must have got in to accelerate the corrosion, but why now. Perhaps I left a washer off or something leaving a small gap. Also I don’t normally get salt water in that area. Although I did wash a lot of bird shit off that area with the deck wash which is sea water?
I have covers on them now.

I make a terrible mess, and always end up with grease or oil on the teak

Once the boat varnishing and painting is complete we will head out to the islands for a few days, this should be fun, knowing we have a berth waiting for us anytime we need to return.

Varnish and a bit of a polish

On a sadder note, a catamaran was found washed up on the beach in Loreto with the owners dog aboard, It may not actually have been washed up, but possibly drove straight onto the beach by it’s autohelm, either way the solo male skipper was not onboard. A week later a body was recovered from the sea, which I believe is the owner. Presumably he fell overboard on passage, There was quite a blow around then of 25-30 knot northerlies, he was crossing the sea from the mainland and would have been in some big seas. A stark reminder of the dangers of solo nighttime passages especially if you don’t wear a harness.

2nd April 2022
We are back from a trip around the islands. It was very relaxing, despite the calm weather not quite performing as expected, our first night in Bonanza bay had us bouncing in a heavy swell from the SE which wasnt expected. Our last night in Caleta Candeleros was similar, but the heavy old baba didn’t worry about the 20 knot gusts through the night and we both slept through it. On the plus side, all the other boats ran away to hide so we pretty much had the two bays to ourselves, excluding turtles, dolphins and sea lions.
I heard a photo of the recovered man I mentioned above had a diving fin on one foot and that he died of heart failure while in the water. I can’t imagine why a solo sailor would be diving on that passage from the mainland to here, unless he got something wrapped around his prop. Very sad whatever the reason.
I’m now working my way around the jobs I still need to do. A bit more varnishing, also Kathy has said she wants to visit Mazatlan, so we may sail over in a week or so, it’s a two day trip involving an overnight passage.

Not a russian one, but they have a mega sailboat alongside
As you do.
Kathy on Bonanza beach on Espiritu Santo
Our failed attempt to find the trail
Canderleos Bay with Sister Midnight in the background

Anchored in 5 metres, over sand
Roca Lobos (Sea Lion Rock) en route back to La Paz.

Paul Collister

Status update & long term plans

We have been tied to the dock in La Paz for a few weeks now and have quickly settled back into the lazy easy going life here.
The day starts with the morning net on VHF CH22 waking us up at 8am. On the net we hear of any medical emergencies, anyone who has lost their dinghy or other valuables, people looking for knowledge or assistance and sometimes a bit of gossip, which keeps us amused.
I spend the rest of the day doing little boat jobs and learning some more Spanish. Arturo calls around a couple of times each week to give me face to face Spanish lessons and I try to help him with his Kumon maths course.

The original plan was to depart La Paz in the next month for the South Pacific and beyond, however I have been thinking long and hard on this one. Many of the islands there have been closed to visitors, and although most are opening up now, things could easily change if a new virulent strain of Covid should emerge. I’m optimistic that this will not be the case, but there’s enough doubt there for my other nagging questions about the trip to get the better of me. Firstly I’m not 100% sure I actually want to do another massive passage, I’m not totally sure what the South Pacific has to offer that we haven’t had bucket loads of already. I know this sounds terrible, but we really have already seen the best beaches you can imagine, been in amazing rainforests, climbed volcanoes etc etc. The South Pacific will need to have some serious wow factor to impress us now.
Saying that, the coral fringed atolls do sound amazing. Also I have been toying with the idea of sailing to Hawaii then onto Canada/Alaska. We both loved the Pacific Northwest so much and really want to return, but that trip is probably more taxing than the south pacific, and in a way seems like going backwards.
Places I really want to visit still are Sri Lanka, India, the islands east of Africa, and Africa itself. Also I still have to do some fairly big jobs on the boat before undertaking any serious offshore passages.
So the upshot of this is I have decided to take a gap year out of passage making, I put a wad of dollars on the table and secured this berth in the marina for the next year. Phew, the pressure is off now, I can focus on being lazy, learning Spanish, getting the boat up to scratch and working out a cruising plan for 2023. Of course we will still sail around the Sea of Cortez during the next year, but without any deadlines, it will be a very relaxed affair.

Chores continue:
Last week I hauled out the two anchors and chain onto the pontoon for their regular inspection. this allows me to clean the chain locker which can get a bit smelly if left unattended for long. The port anchor, which we have never used has a smallish length of chain at the anchor end, but is mostly rope. Checking the chain I found the shackle that joins it to the rope was very rusted and also the chain had one very rusty link. I will refrain from stating the obvious cliche here. I hacked the rusty link out and replaced it with a couple of big shackles. This anchor is only used in extreme weather, and so the problems you get with shackles in chain shouldn’t be an issue.

You are the weakest link (couldn’t resist it)
The chain locker with peeling paint. Cleaner now

I had also hoped to replace the Windlass’s solenoid. while I was there, but I can’t find that safe place I put the replacement in just a few weeks ago when we arrived from the UK, early onset Alzheimer’s? One of my tasks is to go through every locker on the boat re-cataloging where everything is and hopefully making some new space in the process.

Went up a fun side road with Direct and Indirect pronouns.

Maria returned with her male friends, she may be defying the lifespan of a chaffinch, but we don’t care. She provides us with entertainment daily and is almost brave enough to eat out of my palm.

The local herons are very used to us yachties.

We have a large 100 ft, 150 ton motor yacht next to us, but when she leaves with charter guests our view expands so we can see across the bay to the Magote.

Not quite sure on the naming of this boat, but good luck to these optimistic fishermen.

Jesus Christ on a boat
Kathy hard at work

We bought some plants for the boat, partly to have fresh basil, but also to brighten it up a bit. Kathy planted a few different herbs and her main task these days is to check on the seedlings. 7 days later nothing has happened, but we’re not giving up hope yet.

Sunday dinner at Estrella del Mar with Arturo.

There have been a few outbreaks of Covid here in the marina and the anchorage, I think this BA.2 strain has arrived, also we are hearing of lots of infections amongst our friends/family back home. Thankfully nobody seems to be getting too ill, although I believe a lot of people are suffering badly for a few days. Shops and restaurants still insist on masks, gel and often a temperature check before you can enter, and most locals are wearing masks when out on the Malecon. Let’s hope it’s all gone soon.

Spring has arrived.

Paul Collister 20th March 2022

Has Paul forgotten how boats work?

Friday 11th February

Before we left Puerto Escondido we took a hike up one of the overlooking hills. The views are great looking out into the Sea of Cortez, and while we were there we saw a whale hanging out at the entrance to the port.

Local Radio/Internet connection
Looking South from Puerto Escondido
Vultures disappointed in our success at getting down from the mountain.

Another job I had to do was to dive on the hull and clean as much as I could and get the propellor to look like a prop again, not like the barnacle covered football it currently was. I took this little video to show what I mean, in it I have done as much of the prop and rudder as I can.

A final shopping trip for Bananas and some Salsa ingredients

So we finally headed out for a test of the boat, and also to see if I could still remember how everything works.
Leaving at around 11:00 we arrived in Loreto about three hours later and anchored just off the harbour. The harbor here is too small and shallow for yachts, but has a small dinghy dock where we can go ashore. It’s totally exposed from every direction other than the west here, but it rarely blows from the west, so one has to pick the moment to anchor. It was too rough to spend a night, and our main purpose for the visit was to get some groceries in.
I haven’t anchored in 4 months and was hoping everything was working, down went the anchor and as Kathy put the boat into astern she shouted something sounded wrong. I couldn’t hear anything of the engine from the bow and so the engine stayed in slow astern as we tried to set the anchor in hard, however Kathy was getting more concerned at the noise so I shouted ‘Neutral’ at her and headed to the cockpit. I hadn’t reached the cockpit when I spotted that we hadn’t brought the line to the dinghy in. We had towed the dinghy here, it has a very long painter (towing/tying up rope). By the time I reached the cockpit I knew from the location of the dinghy, and the very tight rope on the cleat heading straight down to the prop what had happened. I had reversed over the dinghy line, and the floats on the line, designed to stop the rope being sucked down hadn’t worked. 
A possibly very difficult situation as the wind was blowing towards the rocky shore and no chance at sailing off. Fortunately the anchor had dug in enough to keep us there, I couldn’t be sure how well it had dug in, as we never got to reverse on it, so it was just down to the force of wind and waves that had set it.
Now I had been boasting about how the water wouldn’t be too cold for me to enjoy some swimming, I was about to find out. Diving on the rope and cutting it free would take some time so I donned my 3mm windsurfing wetsuit. I haven’t really used this much since I bought it in Galway some decades ago, I was worried that any passing fashionistas might mock me. As it turned out, even with the wetsuit on, the water was cold.
I worked for about 20 minutes with a hacksaw cutting through the rope, until I dropped the hacksaw, and realised the string that attached it to my wrist had come undone. I then got some cramp in my leg and was starting to feel dizzy. I can’t remember the symptoms for hypothermia, but I didn’t want to find out so abandoned the job for a while. Back on board I was shaking with the cold, so obviously it’s a lot cooler than I thought. Once warmed up, I jumped back in with a new, better secured backup hacksaw and managed to swiftly remove nearly all of the remaining rope. Back on board we carefully engaged the engine in ahead then astern and it seemed to be ok. We firmly backed down on the anchor and headed ashore for some groceries.

The back streets of Loreto

Returning to the boat, somewhat later than planned, we headed north to anchor for the night at the Coronados islands. By the time we arrived the sun had set so we anchored in the dark. Fortunately I know this spot on the protected southern side of the main island and it’s a doddle to anchor. 

Sunrise reveals our anchorage and neighbours that were just masthead lights before

Saturday 12th
A quick walk over to the western beach on the island then a lazy day on the boat. I repaired a dinghy oar that snapped when I sat on it the other day.
We may head back to Escondido tomorrow as the weather looks rubbish for a while. In the meantime I have to start planning for what comes next. It looks like 2023 will be the year we spend in the South Pacific. There’s a massive amount of preparation for me to do. We could be passing through quite a few countries before we end up in the SE Asian area. Many of these countries, like New Zealand are not letting boaters in. Hopefully this CoronaVirus will have eased enough to allow these countries to open up before the end of this year, but I think we have been here before. Also since leaving the EU we don’t get such easy access to the many islands of French Polynesia. I’m not sure what the state of play is with the American islands but if they are on our route we may need to arrange a visa with a visit to the American Embassy in London. On top of the bureaucracy I have to do a lot of work on the boat,  I need to drop the mast and replace the wiring, and some of the lights. The dinghy may need to be replaced soon, the main VHF and the handheld radio are on their last legs, also the watermaker needs to be replaced or have a major overhaul. So lots to consider, but for now the aim was to work our way south to La Paz and try and get a marina space for a while so Kathy can stock up on supplies and I can order bits and bobs for the boat.

The start of an iFixit video for an oar!
5-6 Knots heading south with just the Yankee sail

19th February
Leaving the Coronados we picked up a lovely bit of Northerly winds and quickly scooted down to Agua Verde.

Fantastic sailing conditions
Our favorite anchorage in AV, SM is on the right of the three boats

While in Agua Verde I managed to buy some local goats cheese, we had a great meal ashore on the beach in a small restaurant run by the delightful Leonora, She brought us the visitors book and I was able to find the entry from 2 years ago, written by Jim when we visited here.

21st Feb
We had heard of some old cave paintings/handprints that where a short hike from the boat. We headed off following a buried treasure style map Dirk had sent us. Turn right at the cemetery, then left at the palm lagoon etc.

The Village Cemetery
The Palm Lagoon
Someone who died looking for the treasure?
The alleged area where the handprint exists.

We didn’t fancy the scramble up the cliff face to the cave entrance, and I was told we would be able to see it from the beach, so I announced I could see it then we promptly started our march back. On the way I figured we could go around the other side of the lagoon, but much to Kathy’s annoyance we found ourselves in quite dense undergrowth with no obvious way out. Kathy has a much more vivid imagination than me and wasn’t at all happy with the ‘lost in a jungle’ scenario. I climbed a rock face at the edge to find there was in fact no easy way out, but could see the direction we wanted to go in, so we scrambled through the trees and shrubs and eventually got out.

22nd Feb
The next day we upped anchor and sailed south for the bay at Everisto. It was a long trip and we made good progress, such that I realised that we could make it to the small island of Isla San Francisco before it got dark, another 10 miles further on. On the way we took in a small rocky reef, home to a lot of sea lions, but the light was failing and we could only make out silhouettes, but we could sure hear them.
We arrived in the lovely bay just after sunset and as always the shore and rocky cliffs looked closer than they where, we anchored easily behind a group of loud Americans on a big catamaran, they were having a great party time, as were quite a few other cats there. For many people this is their first stop away from tourist pangas and free from connectivity with the rest of the world. It’s a beautiful spot and the aquatic life here can be spectacular.
We added the extra 2 hours to the trip to make the next passage a bit easier.

Wednesday 23rd Feb
A lazy start, as we head back to civilisation. We are heading for Isla Partida or Isla Espiritu Santo

En route we spotted some whales, or big dolphins and a very sleepy turtle. We also saw lots of dolphins and whales during our trip down. I have a little youtube video with these guys in. I feel really bad for how we startled the turtle.

To the very north of Partida is a small rocky outcrop known as Islas Islotes, home to a sea lion colony we have visited many times. We swung by and I very gingerly moved the boat quite close to the rocks, the pangas get a lot closer.

We ended up popping into one of my favourite coves for the night, Bahia or Caleta Candeleros. We didn’t go ashore, just rested and hoped the predicted strong northerly winds would not bother us.

By the morning the winds had picked up, but we were sheltered tucked into the corner. We took off for La Paz and managed to sail the whole way to our anchorage. In all from Escondido to La Paz, via Coronados we only used a quarter of the tank, about 50 litres of fuel. Not bad at all.

Setting the anchor didnt work the first time, and we were dragging into the main channel, not a problem, but Kathy did not appreciate the stares from all the other boat owners I was trying to anchor amongst. People here are quite wary about other anchored boats as the currents are strong, and boats often swing around wildly sometime with the wind and other times with the current. Often the current points the boat a different way to where the wind pushes it. In trying to recover the anchor, I forgot to flake the chain and the locker filled up and the chain clumped up under the windlass and jammed, it wouldn’t go up or down, with ten meters still out and the anchor dragging across the sand it didn’t look that cool. I was able to get the chain off the windlass and with a bit of cajoling (bashing with lump of iron), freed the chain. We then motored away from the glares and dropped the hook a little further up the bay from them.

Our Neighbour at anchor. An interesting boat from New Zealand
A very nice boat, maybe a formosa, looking great.

We headed ashore the next day as the wind had now picked up considerably and the waves were breaking all around.

They handle some big boats in the yard next to Marina De La Paz.

We ended up spending three days out at anchor before I managed to secure a place in the Marina.
My entry to the marina was yet another disaster, the current was flowing strong and the marina were surprised at my request to enter at full flood. But because I had a good handle on the currents I figured I would be able to do it easily, there was going to be over two knots from astern pushing me onto an end tie and with a boat in front of me I had to be able to stop quickly, but we had a lot of lines and cleats available. As I lined up for the dock and approached, the boat took off big time, and the current changed direction enough that I had to abort the approach, however the hard astern manoeuvre only caused the stern to kick around and the current took over and pushed me sideways onto the end of the pontoon where we started to exchange bits of boat for bits of pontoon. The marina staff tried to push us off. I could have left the current to push us away but a mega yacht was in the way and we would have gone under its prow and bashed it with our mast. So I motored full speed ahead and ground my way out of the mess. Kathy was not pleased.
Going around again, with the knowledge of where the current really was, and people on the pontoon giving me guidance I was able to drift into the berth perfectly second time around. everything is repaired now and it all sounded a lot worse than it actually was.

Friends of our friends Jim & Ivana in Canada were in La Paz, so we arranged to meet up for dinner with John, Joan, Dan & Janice all from Nanaimo on Vancouver Island. We had a great time.

Sayin Nothin

The following morning around 8:30 there was a knocking on the hull and the marina manager was there offering a space closer inside the Marina, and as there was no current or wind at that moment we moved.

Our new home for a while
Our local companions.

We are now in La Paz for a while. There won’t be many more posts until something of interest happens. La Paz is a lot more lively now, and perhaps there will be festivals and parades coming up. For now we plan to just chill.

Paul Collister.

Nevada to the Baja

Friday 4th Feb
We are safely back on the boat now, but not without a fun trip from Havasu back to Phoenix.

Monday 24th – Leaving Havasu and London Bridge

We leave Lake Havasu and head south to the Parker Dam. This dam, although not as big as the Hoover in overall size, is the world’s deepest dam.

From the dam we continue in a SE direction, heading more into Arizona hoping to stop in the town of Parker, but there seems little of interest there so we continue onto a strange place called Quartzite. It’s basically a huge community of budget accomodation, many trailers/RVs and some quirky shops including a Camel ride area. Kathy is keen to visit the Naked Mans Bookshop. There’s no naked man present, but plenty of books in the most ramshackle bookshop I have ever seen.

Quartzsite⁩ bookshop

Onto Prescott, where we stop in a once fancy hotel, but now quite tired, that overlooks the town. I think this was once a frontier town, and its proudest boast is a row of pubs called Whisky Row. It dates back to the late 1800s which they are very proud of. I’m always amused as the last three apartments I owned in the UK all predate Whiskey Row. We dined that night in an Indian restaurant in town, but were a little disappointed in the quality and shocked at the prices. But then I think what is considered a cheap night out in England, might be a speciality in Prescott.
On Tuesday we had a lazy day wandering around the stores of Prescott and at sunset we visited a lovely lake just outside of town. Kathy also found an amazing new wholefood type supermarket ‘Sprouts Farmers Market’ real products, but not at Amazon’s ‘Wholefood’ prices.


We leave Prescott and drive back across the desert to Sedona. We passed through here at the start of our trip, it’s a few hours north of Phoenix and it looked so pretty we said we would visit on our way back.

Talk about straight road

We stay in a resort style apartment with a lounge, bedroom, kitchen and dining area. Very comfortable, our own porch and washing machine, dishwasher etc. It’s so nice we decide to extend it for another night but are told the price has doubled and that’s for a much more basic apartment. Instead we find a similar deal at the golf resort a few miles down the road.

Bell Rock
Bell rock

We visit Montezuma’s castle, which is an old dwelling situated in the rock face near Sedona. It’s very interesting to see how people lived in caves constructed quite high above the ground, the site was chosen due to the nearby location of a river and fertile land.

Montezuma’s Castle

A little further along we visit Montezuma’s well, a natural spring that was crucial here in times of drought.
Montezuma never actually visited this area and the names should really be changed as he had no connection at all.

The well

Not far from Sedona we visited an old US Army fort, the type that was in the movies where the ‘goodies’ would gallop too in order to escape the ‘Indians’ , A big gate in a high walled stockade would open, they would ride in and be saved. However as the museum at the fort pointed out, there were no trees in the desert to build such stockade walls, in fact it was just an open field with a few buildings. Still it did the job of protecting the new occupiers of the lands from raids by the indigenous peoples.
The museum had a lot of exhibits showing how difficult life was for the soldiers.

The next day we did a bit of sightseeing in the tourist shops of Sedona before driving off to Phoenix via Jerome.

A bit of wind must have blown through here in the night.

Stunning vistas on route to Phoenix

Jerome was added to the route for no reason other than to try a different road than we used at the start of the trip. It turned out to be one of the best stops we made. A delightful town that had gone from bust to boom, then back to bust and now was thriving as an artist / tourist hotspot in the area. Originally created to exploit the minerals in the area, mostly copper with some other precious metals, it had made a few men very rich. However it stopped production abruptly in 1953 and the population declined from some 15,000 to 50-100. It became a ghost town.

Jerome’s ghosts?

Someone forgot their car

From Jerome it was a two hour drive back to Phoenix.

Quaint stores along the route

Our last stop before arriving in a cheap motel near the airport was to see the Roosevelt dam. This is a substantial dam on the Salt river, built to manage the river better and to resolve the frequent droughts there. From there I had planned to follow the river back toward Phoenix along a very scenic route, however the road had been closed, recent fires had stripped the foliage and subsequent rains had caused landslides. The authorities had decided to keep the road closed until the foliage grew back. I wonder if this is how we will first experience climate change, with roads and railways being closed more droughts, more fires, more floods and so on. I’m not sure pouring concrete is a viable way out.

The bridge built before the first dam was demolished to make way for the current structure

Roosevelt Dam
Roosevelt Dam

Sunday 30th Jan 2022
An early start and the car was returned, our bags checked in and we are off to Loreto. No Vaccines needed, no forms, just like it used to be. A new car awaited us at Loreto Airport and we drove down to the Boat at Marina Puerto Escondido.
We had been warned by Dirk, our German friend that an Osprey had made the boat its home and we would have some cleaning to do. I hadn’t quite appreciated how much until I saw that we now had a white dinghy, not a blue one!

In climbing over the pushpit rails to clean the solar panels I managed to lean on the WiFi antenna and snapped it off at the N connecter. A bit of a pain as this is not something easily fixed, at least not by me. I did fix it on my second attempt but I think my first fix may have blown up the transmitter stage and so it’s now a bin job. Thankfully Dirk had a spare one and has loaned it to me until we meet up in La Paz in a couple of weeks time. I now need to find a replacement unit.

Consequently my boat data wasnt uploaded, and as part of the fix, some data was lost. But if you are interested, I have a new page that shows the wind the boat is seeing here on the mooring buoy along with todays and three days worth of battery voltage statistics.
As Zuk would know, it’s amazing what raw data can tell you, after sunrise you can see the battery voltage increasing steadily until the batteries have reach the absorption stage, however there’s big dips in voltage during the morning. This is the point when the toaster is running, so from this you can determine how long we stay in bed each day!
Check out the link above Ship’s Vitals

The boat is quite clean now, the dinghy retstored to its original colour and the engine ran for an hour without issue. We are just chilling here in the bay, chilling being the appropriate word for once the sun sets. Next week we will have a day or two at the Coronados Islands before we head south to Marina La Paz.

Paul Collister

Arizona/Nevada & California

Monday 17th January 2020 – Martin Luther King Day.
Another day trip out of Flagstaff takes us a few hours north to the Grand Canyon.
It’s a great drive through forested snowy highways right up to the edge of the canyon. We are off season and so the traffic is light and there are no queues anywhere. Neither of us know what to expect really, and it’s only as we approach that I realise I have been looking at the contours in reverse on the maps, I thought there were big mountains either side of the canyon, but the steep tight contours on the map are of the steep valley down to the Colorado river. Of course we are both stunned by the enormity of the canyon when we get to the edge.

It’s a little cold up there.
This is not a time to trip up.

We stay until sunset and catch the shadows move across the valley. Quite stunning.

Tuesday 18th Jan
Time to check out of Flagstaff, but first a few words on the car, it’s a fancy BMW series 530 I believe, I don’t normally have much time for cars, in my mind if they get you from a to b, job done. But it was £800 for 30 days for a basic compact car, and £900 for this beast, so just a few pounds more each day. Car hire prices are crazy in the USA and Europe right now, I believe in part due to the semiconductor shortage.
The car is great, but way too fancy for me, I spent half an hour working out what the dozen or so controls did, and that was just to adjust the seat. Every time I adjusted one of the knobs or buttons, my body was contorted in a way I wasn’t too keen on, then the steering wheel goes up down, in out, and jumps out of the way when the car is parked. It also doesn’t like me wandering off the road, and steers me back, which was very disconcerting the first time it happened. When reversing I can see on the widescreen 4K TV who I have run over in perfect high resolution.

Outside Flagstaff Motel and Car

We leave for Williams, just an hour or so to the west, but we are now in serious Route 66 territory with one of the longest working stretches of the road still in use. We take this road, but before we reach it we find an abandoned stretch where a scene from Easy Rider was filmed.

Kathy is very keen to find the exact spot where Dennis Hopper and Peter Fonda are refused a bed in a motel. Thanks to Mr Google we find it quite easily. The vacancies sign has been relocated to a motorbike dealer down the road.

Kathy at the Easy Rider film location

Williams runs special trains north to the Grand Canyon, Its main street is Route 66, and it’s possible to buy souvenirs here as well!

Guns Welcome
They do like their meat here
Old style filling station

For not the first time we find ourselves getting a hearty meal in a Mexican restaurant in Williams.

Wed 19th Jan.
is a bear zoo in Williams, but in fact it has many other animals there. You drive through in your car with the windows closed and aren’t allowed to stop. A bit like a safari park, something I am not keen on as I don’t approve of caging animals for public entertainment/profit. However the animals here are mostly ones who have been rescued or for other reasons could not survive in the wild, so have a chance here. The enclosures are quite large and the animals looked cared for. Quite what they make of a steady procession of cars though their habitat we will never know.
The park also has a huge restaurant and gift shop, alongside a more traditional zoo area where you can walk around. Most of the animals here also need to be protected for various reasons.

A church in Williams
Next to the Motel

Thurs 20th
We leave Williams for Vegas taking in the Route 66 towns of Kingman & Seligman.

The Santa Fe railroad stays with us for most of this section
Same day delivery?

After the pretty & quirky small towns we head to Las Vegas taking in the Hoover Dam and bridge on the way.

Seems quite a long way below the waterline on the cliffs
Looks like 8 turbines

I’m very pleased to be here, I had always wanted to see this marvel of engineering. Of course climate change may have a big impact on the dam in coming years. Of course the damming of the Colorado river has had severe consequences for those downstream who rely on the river for their food and drinking source, especially at the Mexican end where the river meets the Sea of Cortez.

4 turbines each side
Lots of pylons

After an hour or so marvelling at one massive concrete pour, we head to another massive concrete creation, Las Vegas. Driving over the surrounding hills and seeing the normal arid desert landscape replaced by a huge shining city is quite a shock. Vegas is nothing like the other cities around this region, and as we turn onto the freeway that takes us right down to the main strip, Kathy scares me by shrieking as an aeroplane almost hits us as it comes in to land at the airport, or at least it felt that close. The first of many assaults on the senses. Getting to the hotel is crazy as we are just off the main strip, 6 lanes to navigate then at the hotel a myriad of choices and Valet parking to negotiate. Valet parking is new to us. The only time scousers normally hand their car keys over to a stranger is when a pointy knife is involved. On top of this we have a porter waiting to take our suitcases, however we have managed to accumulate several carrier bags of vital possessions along the way. The ever helpful concierge organises a big bucket for us to chuck our belongings in before the car is whisked away to some secret cave.

The Vdara hotel provides us with a suite with kitchen and dining room, for not much more than a standard motel room. It’s very luxurious

So instead of rushing off to make our fortunes on the zillions of casinos, Kathy does a fry up of eggs and vegan sausages. Once refreshed we venture out for the first of many visual onslaughts.

Paris and Venice ahead
Hotel Foyer

We watch the fountains at Bellagio and walk back through the casinos that occupy the ground floor of the hotels. It seems like you could walk many miles through casinos without seeing daylight.

Fri 21st
The next day we pass Caesar’s Palace en route for Venice. I wanted to see the Gondolas, expecting them to be awful, I’m not disappointed.
Kathy and I agree that Vegas is not for us. We don’t gamble, I’m not a drinker, the shows are all a bit mainstream, everything looks incredibly tacky.
When the Eiffel tower was constructed in Paris I believe it was considered a tacky cheap monstrosity, but it grew on the Parisians over the years, much like the London Eye, which was only ever meant to be temporary. The Vegas tower is a cheap tacky version in itself, and I expect won’t get any better.
We couldn’t work out if the cheap tacky feel was deliberate or not. Caesars Palace is an affront to anyone who knows the basics of classical Greek and Roman Architecture, I’m sure the designers did, so these gross proportions used must have been done on purpose to give it a comic appeal.
Still at the end of the day everyone seemed to be having a great time and were enjoying the party atmosphere, and that must be worth something. For us it was great to see, but we won’t be back.

Fake sky as you might expect in Vegas
Batman a well known visitors to St Mark’s Square
Pleased to see it out on its own in a bit of a dusty cut off part of downtown.

After exploring Venice we grabbed a cab to the Mob Museum, which gives the history of mobsters in the USA going right back to the early gangs of New York, right up to current narcos in Mexico, Triads & Russian oligarchs. Spread over three floors in a building that housed the courtroom where many mobsters from the Al Capone days testified, it provided an excellent history of events. Many primary source exhibits such as the bullet shells from the Valentine’s day massacre, and the actual wall with bullet holes are on display. Kathy has the best photos and will no doubt post them when she writes her blog.

After a few hours in the museum we headed up to Freemont St where a covered walkway is illuminated. It looked impressive, but also a bit sad. There were plenty of beggars and an eatery (I’m reluctant to call it a restaurant) where people who are morbidly obese (>350lb) are able to fill themselves with fatty burger type food for free. Customers have a protective bib to wear and waitresses scantily dressed as nurses provide a constant stream of fatty food and alcohol.

Perhaps the owners are big on Darwin’s theories

Amazingly we can’t find anything to eat, we don’t fancy queueing for one of the hotel restaurants, and everywhere else seems very meat orientated so we head back to the hotel and cook some vegan burritos up in the apartment.

The next day we check out and are glad to be back on the road heading south to Havasu Lake City

Leaving Vegas heading south along the banks of the Colorado river.

Sat 22nd
We head south from Las Vegas trying to stay as close to the Colorado River as possible. Our destination is Lake Havasu City, a tourist resort on the banks of a lake created by damming the Colorado at Parker, another great engineering feat. This dam, although narrower than the Hoover dam, is deeper, in fact the deepest in the world.
On route we stop for another Huevos Rancheros in a Wendy style restaurant.
I’m extremely pleased to be visiting this city as it has London Bridge connecting a small island to the main city. I distinctly remember as a child of 9 years old hearing that an American had bought London Bridge and was moving it to America. Like many people I didn’t realise that London Bridge wasn’t just another name for Tower Bridge, and there was a rumour that the buyer thought he was getting Tower Bridge and ended up with the considerably more boring London Bridge. I was always fascinated by the story and so was glad to see it for real. I must say it looked splendiferous in its new home.
Once we checked into our hotel we walked along the shore to the bridge.

Sun 23rd
There’s a 3 day balloon festival on this weekend but it’s too windy today. We check out the Walmart just outside town. It’s huge.

We drive around the island and end the day in a lovely Italian restaurant called Angelina’s.

Lake Havasu

Kathy poses in front of one of some 75 lighthouses built around the resort, I hadn’t realised at the time, but they are replicas of real lighthouses around the USA and the great lakes.

I’m lost for a comment

Me on London Bridge AZ

We are nearing the end of our trip now, but we still have a few days we can spend in the Sedona area.

Paul Collister.

Kicks on 66

Monday 10th Jan
Kathy and I spent the week before our trip keeping our heads down, we had to take a covid test 24hr before our departure, if we failed it, we would be looking at more lost flights, hotel bookings, car hire etc. After the fiasco of Christmas and France/Switzerland we didn’t want to take any risks, we had hoped to hook up with lots of friends over Christmas, but that will have to wait.

A plane to take us to Phoenix

So with an early start (6am) and a quick taxi ride to Manchester airport for our flight to Phoenix Arizona, with a few hours at Heathrow on the way. Arriving in Phoenix Sky Harbour, we picked up a very snazzy BMW 5 car and hit the freeway to our Sonder room downtown. Sonder do a serviced apartment where you basically have a studio flat with a very decent kitchen/dishwasher/clothes washer etc. The plan was to use that as a base for the first 4 days while we get over any Jet lag.
Arriving at a huge complex of apartments around 8pm, we located our room only to find another couple in it. A double booking? Not a good start, it was 3am our time, so I was not mad at the idea of chasing around for a bed. However a phone call to Sonder revealed they had changed our room and the email notification hadn’t reached me yet (It finally arrived just as we were leaving 4 days later). It was a great apartment and very relaxing

Tuesday 11th
In the morning we drove to Cave Creek, an old frontier town just outside the built up part of Phoenix. It seems to just be a tourist spot now, lots of shops selling lovely trinkets and clothes. I think most of the original town has gone and what we saw were recreations. We had a lovely lunch there before returning to our base.

Wed 12th
A lazy start then a 15 minute walk to the downtown centre of Phoenix. There’s a heritage square with some of the original buildings that have been restored and house a visitor centre and museum. Frankly it was a tad disappointing, the square was small and mostly closed for winter. The buildings were old, but not as old as most of the houses I have lived in back in the UK. Outside of the square comprised of soulless high rise offices, hotels and apartment blocks. We looked for a shopping area as Kathy and I both had a few things we needed to buy that we had forgotten. We could only find a few artisan or high end designer stores. We wandered back to the apartment disappointed, but did come across a funky bar area a little way from the centre and stopped for drinks.

Thursday 13th
We decided that Scottsdale was the place for shopping and it also had a pretty old town. The town is more like a village that has been amalgamated into Phoenix, but sits away from downtown on the banks of a canal.

We stumbled on a lovely little Mexican restaurant for lunch, I had a very tasty Huevos Rancheros (Ranch Eggs) and Kathy went for Salsa and chips.

We wandered around the artisan shops and the old town, which was totally visitor orientated.

Friday 14th
Time to check out of our Sonder and drive to Flagstaff. Flagstaff is an interesting town, and central for several excursions we plan in the area. It’s just a few hours drive north from Phoenix and we break the journey up by stopping in the lovely town of Sedona. The scenery in the area is stunning. Vast aresa of flat desert then rocks jumping out of nowhere

As we travelled north we gained altitude towards 6000 ft, the temperature plunged quickly from a very warm Phoenix to a cold and snowy situation.

The view from Flagstaff.
In flagstaff we checked into one of the zillions of motels that exist along the side of the highways here. They are very basic, and quite small, but cheap and cheerful, and do the job. We have the room for 4 nights, and it works out just fine. The motel is on a very special road here. It’s got a new number (I40) the I is for interstate, but it is also called ‘Historic route 66’ Most of this historic route has long gone, but bits remain, and for reasons I struggle to understand, it has taken on a great mythic status. From here on in, it will be impossible to avoid Route 66 memorabilia. Kathy, like most people is very thrilled we are travelling this famous stretch of road, I’m enjoying trying to understand what has happened and if I could make Meols Drive just as famous back home. I think getting your road named in a few big albums helps.

We head to downtown Flagstaff and wander the streets getting coffee at one of the trendy cafes here. It has a lovely laid back feel and we pop into a thrift shop to buy some cutlery to eat with when bringing back food to the motel.
Something we had stupidly overlooked was how cold it is up here in the winter. There is snow piled up everywhere we go. I was just thinking La Paz Weather all the time.
From the town we drive north to the Northern Arizona state museum. I’m keen to know about the area before these towns were built, before the railway and route 66 arrived. The museum is fantastic, well worth the $15 admission fee (It reminds me how lucky we are to be able to go into museums and art galleries for free back home). I learn a lot about how the lands were occupied by various groups of peoples over time, more recently the well known tribes of the Hopi Navajo and Apache people. The Apache being two separate distinct groups bundled together into one tribe for convenience by the European settlers. To exist in the harsh lands here, the tribes initially were nomadic and relied on a great understanding of weather, crops, animal migrations etc in order to find areas with food at any particular time in the year. Learning about the First Nations in Canada and the pre-hispanic peoples in Mexico has opened my eyes to the indigenous people across the whole of this continent. Later I try to visit a Hopi settlement.

After the museum we head into a national park to look at a volcano rim that has spewed lava in a massive river which has set. It’s quite a sight.

From the lava fields we head to see some ruins at Wupatki National Monument. The website states:

People gathered here during the 1100s, about 100 years after the eruption of Sunset Crater Volcano, gradually building this 100-room pueblo with a community room and ballcourt. By 1182, perhaps 85 to 100 people lived at Wupatki Pueblo, the largest building for at least fifty miles. Within a day’s walk, a population of several thousand surrounded Wupatki.
Although it is no longer physically occupied, Hopi believe the people who lived and died here remain as spiritual guardians. Stories of Wupatki are passed on among Hopi, Zuni, Navajo, and perhaps other tribes. Members of the Hopi Bear, Sand, Lizard, Rattlesnake, Water, Snow, and Katsina Clans return periodically to enrich their personal understanding of their clan history. Wupatki is remembered and cared for, not abandoned.

The area around here is called the painted desert and is quite stunning. The vastness of the prairies contrasting with the eroded rocks that rise up with big flat tables on top (Mesas).

On the way back we call into a pizza place and order a takeaway. an experience in itself. The smallest pizza we could get was way too big for the two of us, also the same price as a night out in Liverpool.

We head off in the morning to Meteor Crater, this is a huge hole in the ground. It’s quite amazing to stand on the rim and look down.

It’s hard to appreciate the size, it’s over a kilometre across (.75 mile) and 170 metres deep (560. feet). There’s an astronaut fully decked out in space suit standing at the bottom. Something to do with NASA training them here (or where they filming something ?). The onsite museum had a lot of interesting information on meteorites.

We accidently ended up taking a wrong turn on the way here and ended up on a bit of abandoned route 66.

Route 66

So next we head to Winslow so Kathy can stand on a corner. I think that’s actually the whole reason we are in Arizona for three weeks. The Eagles have a song with the lines:

“Well, I’m a standin’ on a corner in Winslow, Arizona
Such a fine sight to see
It’s a girl, my Lord, in a flat-bed Ford
Slowin’ down to take a look at me”

We are not the only people there wanting a piece of that corner, we have to queue for our pics, but it’s a laid back atmosphere and probably a lot busier in season. there’s only a few shops open as it’s a Sunday, but thankfully they have a lot of ‘standing on the corner’ merch for Kathy to sweep up.

I’m much more interested in an antenna just behind the corner. I presume it’s a microwave dish, but I can’t remember ever seeing anything this shape before.

On the way back we are mostly following the Santa Fe railway which brought much prosperity to the area when first built. It runs from the east coast to the west coast, and takes in our motel front garden. The nuisance is offset by the Casey Jones hooter you hear every now and then, and the clanging bell. You have visions of the old railroad transporting cattle or pigs to the big cities. The reality is more of hundreds and hundreds of 40ft Shipping containers full of Asian goods heading east from the east. These trains usually have three locomotives at the front and sometimes two or three in the middle as well.

On the way back from Winslow we take a diversion to visit a Hopi tribe settlement and ruins, however it’s too late and the park rangers have closed the access road. I have often wondered about the Hopi since I first saw the film Koyaanisqatsi as a young man. It had a massive effect on me then, as did the soundtrack by Philip Glass.

We have such action packed days that I’m going to do a blog post very week, otherwise I will be overwhelmed with photos of places my failing memory won’t be able to recall.
Next stop the Grand Canyon, tomorrow on Martin Luther King day, nothing to do with the fact that National parks are free on MLK day.

Paul Collister

Christmas in England.

17th December 2021
I have been neglecting the blog somewhat due to all the travel and Christmas related stuff.
I left La Paz, had a few great weeks of sailing around the Sea of Cortez, ending up in Escondido. I then flew home to Liverpool to be reunited with Kathy and prepare for a Christmas in the Swiss alps with my kids. At this point the word Omicron was unknown to me.

Leaving La Paz as a tanker is arriving.

November 2021
I have left La Paz and I’m chilling in the local islands of Espiritu Santo. I attempt some boat jobs, starting with the foot switches for the anchor windlass. Sadly the Solenoid is not making a good connection when wanting to reverse the windlass. Later I have a great snorkel around the rock.

Time to get a new solenoid, the relay contacts must be worn
Anchor chain when Kathy isn’t flaking
Track from La Paz to Espiritu Santo
Coronados bay on Espiritu

Day 3 2nd Nov: Off to Isla San Francisco.
Sail for 2nd half, boat sailing really well to wind, 2 hours at 5 knots close hauled and heeling a fair bit but not enough to get any waves on board.
The bay has a mega charter motor boat, big slide and lots of toys and jet skis etc.

Track from Espiritu to Isla San Francisco
Isla San Francisco

Day 4 3rd Nov
Chilling in the bay and work on the SSB Pactor, get an email out and reply from Kathy. Millions of ferrite rings don’t solve the problem I have of RFI, which means the radiated signal from the transmitter and aerial is getting back into the electronics and causing the system to crash. I have to run at low power, and this varies depending which frequency I use. In the end 10Mhz seems to be a good compromise early in the day.

Day 5 4th Nov
I’m up early and see a few of the party boats have left. As usual it’s a glorious day, blue skies, gentle breeze and the sun rising quickly against the mountains that make the backbone of the Baja Sur peninsula. I might leave this afternoon and head over to San Evaristo, this will break up the journey to El Gato a little, only by a couple of hours, but it all helps, especially if I’m going to skip Gato and push onto Agua Verde, as I have had to do twice before due to swells from the wrong direction at El Gato. 

Today’s main task is to stop the PI computer constantly rebooting. I spend several hours trying to work out why it is rebooting – it seems to crash not long after startup, usually a few minutes. I don’t find out why but it seems to crash when I move the board. I come to the conclusion it’s a power supply problem, and the slightest movement of the power supply cable causes a crash. I’m not convinced, but by suspending it by its ethernet cable, it’s working ok. 

I try to send Kathy an email using the HF SSB rig but I can’t connect to any base stations. It is 13:00 and there’s a lot of static on the airways. I try again at 19:00 and I think it gets sent.

Before this I dinghy over to the North of the bay and snorkel with some lovely big fish. I say lovely, some of them give me evil looks and bare their teeth at me. I don’t hang around.

The water is a lovely temperature for swimming, but this will change over the next month for the worse. I also like swimming just before sunset, and when I get out the water in the setting sun, it’s starting to get chilly.

Day 6, 5th Nov Leave for somewhere north, not really sure, started off thinking of a short hop across the channel to San Evaristo, but decide I should take advantage of the flat calm weather with no wind or waves/swell for several days. I’m getting good wx reports from NOAA over the Pactor SSB link daily now.
I decide to follow the coast of the Island, Isla San Carlos, and anchor near the north end behind a little spit. It goes from 40 metres or more to 2 metres in just a few boat lengths, so I am anchoring on the side of an underwater cliff really, this is great when the anchor is pulling up the hill, towards shore, but likely to pop out if the wind sends me the other way. My first go at anchoring seems fine, but I only have 1 meter of water under the hull and I haven’t really reversed hard on the chain, if it’s set well, I should reverse to just about 1/2 meter under the hull and the pull forward in these still conditions to be in about 4 meters of water, it’s right on low water, so ‘things can only get better’ as they say. However, I bottle it. I can see the bottom and it looks way too close, so I steam ahead and have another go. I set the anchor in 17 metres of water and reverse back until the anchor sets fully and I’m in 4 meters of water. This will do. I have a little kayak around and beach in the ugly lump of plastic and take a walk. Just as I get out of the kayak I’m faced with 4 cows and a couple of herders marching them along the beach. This is an uninhabited island, as far as I thought, yet this is like a scene right out of a Hollywood western.  We exchange pleasantries, and they continue their march, eventually turning off the beach and up a dirt track into the hills where they disappear out of view, leaving me in a somewhat confused state. I say cows, however they had the horns of an antelope

Day 7, 6th Nov, Again taking advantage of the calm, I pop over to Tembici 4 hours north on the Baja peninsula.

Here, there is an old derelict hotel. Apparently, some time ago, a local pearl diver, who was quite poor and couldn’t even afford his own boat, found a giant pearl despite getting very poor offers from the pearl merchants in La Paz, he made enough money to amass a fishing fleet and build a hotel here. When he died, family disputes caused the hotel to fall into disrepair. And now it stands as an empty shell. I don’t know if this was prior to Steinbeck writing The Pearl, which although similar, had a more tragic ending. Here, I dive on the hull and remove as much growth as I can reach. Just as I’m learning to freedive, and feeling comfortable with it, my ears have given up on me. In particular my right ear, which I think has a blocked ‘euston-station’ tube, meaning I can’t get much deeper than a meter before it starts to hurt, and I’m unable to equalise that ear.  
Next stop Agua Verde, let’s hope there are not as many flies there.

Arturo shot this while taking some people dialing

Day 8, 7th Nov  (Sunday)
Arrive in Agua Verde, an uninteresting trip, AV is busy with camper vans, and a mega yacht at anchor. Bit of a panic with the anchor alarm. Turned out to be a problem with the app/GPS on the iPhone. It was giving me 48m as best GPS accuracy, however the iPad was fine. A reboot of the iPhone fixed it, but very disappointing. I don’t think Steve Jobs would have let that bug get through. I reconfigure the boat’s external wifi and internal router to work with the shore based wifi, just need to go over to the village tienda and buy some credit now. 

This is where my notes stop. I chilled in Agua Verde for 4 days I think. The road to the sand spit was being widened by a big digger (JCB) and was rumoured to be organised by an American lady who wants good access to the spit. I don’t know if that land is being developed, I hope it remains available to the public, it’s such a lovely spot. I climbed up the hill on the sand spit and took some pictures.

Track to Agua Verde
Track to Agua Verde
The road widening in Agua Verde
The village cemetery
The spit / Isthmus at Agua Verde

From Agua Verde I spent a week or more working up to Puerto Escondido where the boat is now, via Isla Coronado where I spent a few days.

Isla Coronando

The boat is swinging on a mooring ball provided by the marina. This costs around $400 / month, which is crazy for a mooring, but there was nothing cheaper on offer and to be fair they have the best showers of any marina I have stayed in. Also it’s a lovely spot, very safe and they keep an eye on my lines. The hurricane season seems to be over now.
27th November 2021
Yesterday I rented a car, and drove into town to get my Covid test. Today I returned the car to the airport and took a flight to Phoenix Arizona. After a 5 hour wait I boarded a flight to Heathrow then onto Manchester. Unlike the Heathrow flights from Mexico City, which are empty, this one was fully booked. It was a long journey, starting Saturday morning at 9am and ending in Manchester on Sunday evening.
It was good to see Kathy waiting for me at Lime St station. I did my covid testing and after a day I was free to join in the Christmas revelry in town. (not)

Puerto Escondido Anchorage
You need a serious chair for serious fishing

The main reason for my return was to take my grown up kids on holiday in the Swiss alps over Christmas, I haven’t seen them over the last two Christmases, however we heard that Switzerland had introduced 10 day quarantine for non EU (that’s us) visitors. My son Isaac and his partner were keen to go skiing and so this wasn’t going to work. Thinking that everyone would be cancelling their Swiss holidays and moving to the French alps, we cancelled our chalet and rebooked in France. Our flights were good to Geneva as that airport sits on the border of France and Switzerland and has a French exit. I changed the car hire to collect a French car on the French side only to find out the price had doubled since I booked the Swiss car! Having paid the non-refundable booking fee for the French chalet in Chamonix, which did look lovely, the Swiss removed the restrictions. Too late now. However it became clear we had to enter Switzerland before we could transit to the French sector. Not a problem, until a few days ago when the Swiss brought in new rules meaning we need 48hr PCR tests, which we quickly organised to be taken two days before we flew.
Yesterday the French banned the Brits from visiting their country, so I’m now in the process of cancelling flights, car hire etc.
Hopefully we can find a place in the UK for our Christmas break. Maybe Covid won’t be so bad next Christmas?

Although I tell everyone I’m from Liverpool, in fact I’m from the suburbs over on the Wirral, and I’m only really getting to discover the town properly now as I wander around exploring for exercise. The centre I know well, but the next ring around the town, especially the University campuses is very interesting. Walking around I snapped a few pics of Liverpool.

Christmas has started
The School of Engineering building ( I think) The light constantly changes
Kathy enjoying an Indian meal, something hard to find in La Paz
Lamb Banana, a Liverpool special, with my mate on the arse
Another university engineering building
New developments at the Hospital end of the university of Liverpool Campus
The Spire, an Eco building?
The Georgian Quarter
The Liverpool Philharmonic Concert Hall.

Liverpool hosted the G7 summit discussing the Russian build up on the Ukraine borders. Above you can see how security ended up closing off many streets in Liverpool.

Kathy enjoying the Christmas market with her family
The view from Everton Park
From Everton Park
The Albert Dock
Victoria Gallery & Museum
St Georges Hall
The Metropolitan Cathedral (This used to be known as Paddy’s Wigwam, probably not PC now)

Paul Collister

A quick note from Loreto

Hi everyone, I made it to Loreto fine, and went further up to Isla Coronado.

No sniggering at the back please.

It’s been a great few weeks, mostly motoring, with a bit of sailing, but mainly lazing around, snorkeling, beach walks and reading.
I haven’t had much internet, and no high speed internet, to allow me to upload pictures and videos, but I have today managed to upload to YouTube a clip I made in the Coronados. The first fish is an Aguilla (eel) and the second I think is a Mobula Ray, it’s hard to appreciate its size from the vid, but from the end of its tail to the front is about the same as my height, just under 6ft or a couple of metres.

If I get a chance I will post a real blog when I get to Puerto Escondido in a few days. Then I fly back to the UK next Saturday.

Paul Collister.