Sailing away with Nikk and Jan

Archive for November, 2014

Leaving San Carlos for the Sea of Cortez

It’s been a strange five months for Balance, left with hundreds of boats in dry storage in San Carlos, Sonora, up on the mainland side of the Sea of Cortez. Two and a half weeks ago we came back to Mexico, Balance went out into the work yard, and several days later was proudly sporting a new coat of bottom paint and finally back into the water in the marina. It is a strange feeling watching Balance on a giant trailer heading out onto the highway, and then being slowly backed into the water at the marina. Nikk and I did a lot of projects on the boat while she was in the work yard. Of course, when she was back in the water we were very happy that there were no leaks, the engine started right away, didn’t quit (!), and she slid safely into her slip at the marina.

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We were lucky to be able to stay with Theo and Marion, cruising friends on Marionetto, in their new home on land in San Carlos while Balance was in the work yard.

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San Carlos is definitely worth a visit. Only a few hours from Nogales and Arizona, it’s a booming retirement community, with Mexican culture still intact. Up on the hill above the marina, gringos have built many vacation and retirement homes, some quite surprising.

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We’ve had a good time here during these two weeks, despite Nikk having lots and lots and lots of boat projects. When not occupied with boat projects we’ve had a good time visiting with cruising friends, getting to know the good spots for breakfast and dinner, hiking, and finally getting the kayaks in the water to spend a couple of hours working our rusty paddling muscles going out to circle some islands in the bay.

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In the background of this picture you see the Tetas de Cabra (“goat tits”).

The first hike we did resulted in some great bird sightings, including two Green-tailed Towhees, and this little buddy just hanging out on the road.

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Today we’re leaving the marina to head up north a little ways to San Pedro, a nice little cove for anchoring and snorkeling, then up to Las Cocinas (The Kitchens) for even more snorkeling, and before big winds come up in a week’s time, we’ll sail (or motor) across the Sea to Santa Rosalia, a formerly French town on the Baja side, and then work our way back to La Cruz by the end of December. No telling whether I’ll have good internet until then, but glad I could squeeze in one more post before we leave.

Steinbeck Canyon Descent

Up in the Sierra de la Gigantica west of Puerto Escondido on the Sea of Cortez side of Baja California Sur, lies a steep canyon filled with huge boulders, pools of water, palm trees and wild geology. John Steinbeck explored this oasis in 1940, with Ed Ricketts, the biologist from Monterey, CA, three wealthy Mexicans, and two native guides. I read about this canyon in The Log From the Sea of Cortez, and in the Sea of Cortez cruising guide, and knew we had to go explore this place if at all possible.
One day last May we began our hike up Canyon de Tabor (it’s other name) on a day of shimmering heat. After hiking and wading, and finding our way past boulder-choked obstructions, we came to a seemingly impossible stack of gigantic boulders in a narrow part of the canyon. Looking up, we spotted John, a fellow hiker, already on top.

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We used his shouted instructions and squeezed beneath a boulder, used a knotted rope to help us up the steep chimney, stepped onto a branch wedged between the wall and boulder, and shimmied over a protruding rock to gain the last obstacle, a tree trunk wedged as a ladder, with a helpful rope. Whew. Now we were in the oasis.

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After lunch and some exploration of the oasis, it was time for DESCENT. I was nursing a cracked rib, from a hike on Isla San Francisco two weeks before, when a suitcase-sized rock detached itself from a ridge as I pressed on it, so I wanted Nikk to go first and spot me as I downclimbed. Here he is.

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That last step took a lot of courage and trust in the fixity of that branch.

Descent

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