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