Friday, March 25, 2016

La Paz Redux

We have been a little over a week at anchor in La Paz, right beside the Marina de La Paz where we docked at Christmas.  Needless to say, it’s a lot less expensive!  The Marina is very kind to itinerant sailors and, for a small fee, allows us to tie our dinghies to their secure dock, gives us access to filtered drinking water and garbage disposal, as well as the showers.  There is a laundry on site and a small restaurant.  The anchorage itself is very pleasant.  Although there is a strong current running, and sometimes the boats out here dance around in wind versus current chop, for the most part we are very comfortable.  We enjoy long, lingering sunsets and lovely sunrises.  We are visited daily by dolphins and many species of marine birds soar above us.  Frequently, there is a breeze which flows through the port lights and hatches keeping us cool in the increasingly hot temperatures.  Sitting in the cockpit to enjoy our meals and watch the activity around us is very enjoyable.  The anchorage is very large, bisected by a channel that services this marine port.

Views of gorgeous La Paz from the sand bar at the other side of the estuary
We are anchored in front of two boatyards with yachts on their docks and in their hard stands.  Nearby is a fisherman’s beach and  pangas glide by regularly (well, some zoom), filled with tourists going to one of the outside beaches or heading out to swim with the whale sharks.  Farther along there is a small navy base and in the morning we can hear the call to muster.  The weather is sunny and warm with most days hitting 30 degrees.  Each day the water seems to be getting warmer and we have been in swimming several times.

Full Moon over Marina La Paz (taken from our cockpit)
As this week is “Semana Santa” (Week of Saints) there is a lot more activity than usual.  One night we saw a group of people carrying large musical instruments to the end of one of the boatyard docks.  A little while later two large boatloads of people docked and the music began and lasted, full blast until the wee hours.  I’m not talking serenade, either.  Tubas, trumpets, drums, guitar, singing at the top of the lungs amplified, makes for an interesting concert.  The music is in Spanish, of course, and I cannot explain what it sounds like, except to say it is very boisterous, energetic and polka like.  The other amazing thing is that the troubadours did not take a single break.....for hours!  These public concerts are not unusual in Mexico – you hear them everywhere – and loved by all - almost as if a celebration isn’t a celebration without one of these bands playing.  They are so loud I can hardly hear myself think, but others seem to be able to continue with their conversations and activities while the cacophony goes on.  For my part, although I do enjoy some of it, it can wear me down.  The only way I know to survive it is to learn to tune it out, well, how about “fade” it out!  LOL!

Although this is not the band we heard, it features the instruments we typically hear.
During Semana Santa the children are off school for two weeks.  This is also Easter and the Easter Bunny is nowhere to be seen.  Instead, most of this time is devoted to family, beach vacations and the celebration of the Passion of Christ.  During these weeks La Paz, and many other beach communities, are flooded with tourists from inland.  Entire families descend to enjoy the beginning of the long days of spring, the warming of the water and the heat of the sun.  At sunset, the malecon is full of strolling families, teenagers, lovers, and children - gringos are outnumbered tenfold.  The restaurants and cafes fill to overflowing with happy families and it is lovely to hear the laughter and see so many smiling faces.  The churches move into high gear with community processions re-enacting the 12 Stations of the Cross and various other proceedings marking the end of Lent and the events of the last few days of Jesus’ life and His rebirth.  I have been learning a lot about Mexican interpretation of Christian culture.

La Paz malecon at night
Both of us love La Paz and it didn’t take us long to get back into the swing of things we experienced when we were here in December.  I returned to Zumba with Joanneke and was delighted to see familiar faces.  Andrea, a.ka. the kid, kept us on our toes to work off those extra tacos.  I so enjoy the half hour walk to Zumba with Alison, Leanne and Ida, the ladies from the marina, and the meandering foraging with Joanneke on the way back, stopping along the way for coffee, a visit to the bakery, the mercado and Arambura (the cow shop).

Icon for our favourite bakery
Meanwhile, Doug has been busy on the boat trying to work out the mystery of the electrical wiring.  Everything is working, but not perfectly, and he is frustrated by the tiny spaces he has to try to get his hands into to feel around without seeing.  Many of these spaces are behind the panels at the navigation station, which are all beautifully, but individually, installed into the cherry wood.  If he just cut away the gorgeous wood he would have no problem, but then it would look ugly with wires all over the place.  Living in Ka’sala is like living in a piece of fine furniture and we both want to keep that aesthetic.  

Ka'sala's nav station - Port lights at top, monitor (which we use as a chart plotter) to the left, then 2 electrical panels.  Next row stereo, AIS, windlass switch, GPS, next row is SSB (shorwave radio) and radar, last row are two electrical monitors and the propane switch - all these instruments are framed by cherry wood
Doug has had more success with painting.  He has continued to hand paint the exterior gelcoat, this time on the starboard side.  Even though it takes him three days to complete a small area, the results are stunning.  Unfortunately he has run out of paint, so may not be able to continue with the other sections until we can acquire more. 

Beautiful mirror finish after meticulour brush work
On several evenings we have gone into La Paz for dinner.  It is hard to resist the malecon at sunset, so each one has begun with a relaxed stroll, followed by a cocktail in one of the several bars that line the opposite side of the malecon.  Doug and Jan have made good use of the SUP bar which serves IPA from the Baja Brewing Company in San Jose.  We’ve eaten in the garden at El Mesquite, which probably serves up the best grilled steak with all the trimmings I have ever had.  At other places we’ve enjoyed wood fired thin crust pizzas and delectable pastor tacos.  Eating out is very reasonable here and, because we are not paying marina fees, we have a little more money in the kitty to take advantage of it. 

Yummy pastor taco restaurant - the pastor is layered pork on the round in the middle - pinapple on the top.  The cook shaves the meat off, much like a swarma
On Monday, March 28, we are leaving with Witte Raaf to explore the coves and islands north of here on the eastern side of the Baja.  Jan and Joanneke have been up and down the coast several times over the last two winters and will be our guides to their favourite anchorages. 

Witte Raaf at anchor beside Ka'sala at La Paz
We anticipate swimming and snorkelling with marine life, hiking in the exceptional terrain, watching more incredible sunrise and sunsets, great meals with friends, discovering new anchorages in remote locations, and meeting new people. We feel very fortunate to be travelling with J & J, not only because they are familiar with the area, but also because we will have quality time to spend with such good friends.  While we are sailing in this remote region we will have limited, if any, access to WiFi and cell coverage so we may be out of touch for a few weeks.  Imagine.  No Internet!  Whatever shall we do?

We may make it as far north as Santa Rosalia before crossing to the mainland again
Our time in Mexico is soon drawing to a close as we plan to be in Guaymas, on mainland Mexico, the first week in May.  We will be storing Ka’sala on the hardstand at the Mexican government owned Fonatur marina there for the summer but, before we leave her, we will need to do a lot of preparation.  Although this area is considered hurricane safe, it does get extremely hot in the summer with temperatures averaging in the mid 30’s.  Temperature chart for Guaymas:


Average Max Temperature °C ( °F)
23 (73.4)
24 (75.2)
27 (80.6)
29 (84.2)
33 (91.4)
34 (93.2)
36 (96.8)
35 (95)
35 (95)
33 (91.4)
28 (82.4)
24 (75.2)
30.1 (86.2)

Average Temperature °C ( °F)
18 (64.4)
19 (66.2)
21.5 (70.7)
23.5 (74.3)
27 (80.6)
29.5 (85.1)
32 (89.6)
31 (87.8)
31 (87.8)
28 (82.4)
23 (73.4)
19.5 (67.1)
25.3 (77.5)

Average Min Temperature °C ( °F)
13 (55.4)
14 (57.2)
16 (60.8)
18 (64.4)
21 (69.8)
25 (77)
28 (82.4)
27 (80.6)
27 (80.6)
23 (73.4)
18 (64.4)
15 (59)
20.4 (68.8)

We will need to remove all the sails, halyards, and canvas, as well as any moveable part above deck, and store them below.  Then we will need to set up our boat cover and secure it on to help protect the decks from sun and dirt.  As the boat will be shut up below, we have to prepare for extreme heat.  The port lights and hatches will all need to be covered with aluminum foil and all orifices plugged to inhibit water and insect penetration.  We will need to vet and dispose of stores, and organize the space below to accommodate the things from above.  We will be leaving Ka’sala with only our backpacks and a couple duffel bags, so all our possessions will need to be sorted out.  I can only begin to imagine what all needs to be done.  Experienced cruisers tell us the preparation can take up to a week and all of it done in the extreme heat.  Best we enjoy these next few weeks of R & R!

Full Moon sunrise at La Paz

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