Yesterday was Cinco de Mayo which is not a particularly big deal down here. However, the local gringo residents of Bahia de Los Angeles were planning to have a party in the afternoon and were kind enough to invite Lulu and I. It was your standard potluck sort of deal so I decided to use up some way-too-flaky flour tortillas that I’d bought in Puerto Escondido along with a little bit of our precious loaf of Tillamook Extra Sharp Cheddar that we also found in PE and make some quesadillas that I could cut up into bite-size pieces. In honor of the event, we erected our new shower curtain in the cockpit and both had showers. The sun just isn’t quite hot enough to make that solar shower hot or even really warm just yet. It takes the edge off the coolness of the water but just barely. Might have to add a pot of stove-heated water next time.
Anyway, while showering I started to notice that the swell coming in from the ESE was getting a little bit uncomfortable. After Lulu’s shower, I hung the shower curtain up to dry and strung our towels and washcloths on the lifeline for the same purpose. It didn’t seem like the swell was laying down much. In fact, it might have been getting a little worse. The wind was certainly picking up. It’s a little hard to tell whether or not we’re any further or nearer the shore as the shoreline keeps changing due to the extreme tides this “super moon”* is causing. I turned on the GPS to see if we were still in our established swinging arc. What I found was that we were 85′ further NW than we had been the day before. As I watched, it was clear that the anchor was holding but it looked like it had possibly tripped and reset itself since the last time I’d checked the GPS. I’m not absolutely sure that’s what happened but it might have. So, what’s NW of us? Nothing much, just a big ol’ rock breakwater extending into the water perpendicular to the beach. And what’s to the the W of us? The beach. And where is the wind coming from? E and ESE. So, what does that make this? That’s right, a LEE SHORE! The dreaded lee shore. This was making me very uncomfortable and so, I decided to use my rare flash of good sense and am-scray. Time to get out of Dodge.
By the time the engine was warmed up, we were ready to hoist the anchor. With the wind and tidal current working against us, I was glad to have an engine and an anchor windlass because that baby was not coming up easily using only muscle power. But, we got it up and stowed and were heading off across the bay to the anchorage at La Mona beach. We looked good, too, what with our towels and washcloths flapping on the lifelines, the wifi antenna wires flying around in the wind, and, worst of all, the sail cover still on the main.
A little over 1/3 of the way across, the winds shifted to the ENE and NE. I wasn’t sure that La Mona was such a great choice with wind from that direction. It looks like it should be on the chart but it’s hard to get a sense of scale sometimes and that little hook that we could hide behind looked like it might be a lot smaller than I’d hoped. So, we decided to alter course and go back to the known protection of Puerto Don Juan. Naturally, just before we reached the entrance to Don Juan, the winds dropped and the sea flattened. Oh well, I’m still not sorry we made the move even if it did mean missing the Cinco de Mayo party.
Once inside Don Juan, we discovered that our new friends Jim & Teresa of s/v Pochteca were anchored there as well. And just them. We enjoyed happy hour on Pochteca, comparing notes and swapping lies like sailors do. We also found out we’ve been an hour ahead of all our neighbors since we passed in to Baja California Norte last week. Seems that the time line dividing Pacific Time from Mountain Time runs down the middle of the sea until it reaches the latitude that is the border between Baja California Norte and Baja California Sur where it takes an abrupt turn to the west and follows the border between BCN and BCS. So, all of BCN is on Pacific time and all of BCS is on Mountain time. And we were on BCS time. How did we find out? Well, Jim & Teresa had invited us to happy hour between 4:30 and 5:00. So, about 4:40, after my quesadillas were done and packed, we fired up the dink and headed over. They’re anchored a ways from us and as we neared, we could see that someone was in the water off the swim step on their stern. As we got closer, we could see that whoever it was was wearing a bikini so we assumed it was Teresa and not Jim, although we don’t really know them that well yet. Turned out, our assumption was correct. Whew! We slowed down and gave Teresa enough time to get back in the cockpit. As we got up to Pochteca and Jim took our painter, he said, “I guess we should have confirmed which time zone we’re using.” Huh? He explained that he was pretty sure we were in Pacific time here and our clocks were either on Mountain Daylight or Pacific Standard time. We apologized and offered to come back later but he wouldn’t hear of it. So we kept him company and started happy hour an hour early when Teresa rejoined us after rinsing off and getting dressed. Oops. How could this happen? Aren’t there radio nets and such that start at certain times that we would miss if we were an hour off? Well, no, not up here. There are radio nets, yes, but they are all based on UTC or Zulu time. What used to be called Greenwich Mean Time. As long as your local time, whatever you think it is, is adjusted right, you’ll hear the nets right on schedule. Jim and I were both listening to the same net (Sonrisa), but he had to be up by 6:30 AM to hear it while I could sleep until “7:30”. Of course, now that we changed our clocks to the correct local time, I also have to get up at 6:30 to hear the net.
So, we plan to stay here at Don Juan at least through today (Sunday). If the winds are predicted to die down or change directions tomorrow, we’ll head back over to BLA then. We still have to get our laundry done, buy diesel and replenish our cerveza and agua mineral supplies before heading further north.
I want to give a shout-out to Ron Dunn of BLA. He’s the guy who contacted us from shore the day we arrived. The next day, he met up with us and gave us a tour of BLA. Showed us where to eat and where not to, where to buy groceries and where to avoid due to high prices, where to get our laundry done and where to get propane if we needed it (we don’t). He introduced us to the head honcho lady at the museum, to Guillermo who owns “Guillermo’s” restaurant/bar/hotel whose beach we land our dinghy on, and to Guillermo’s sister who gave us the code to their wifi as long as we didn’t pass it around. We also met Herman, a 90 year old local “character”. The story is that Herman has traveled and lived for a long time in Baja and has many, many stories to tell. Someone once actually wrote these stories down and published them as a book available either directly from Herman or at the museum. More about Herman after we’ve bought his book and had a little more time to spend with him.
Couple quick things about BLA: It’s only been very recently that they have had 24-hour a day electricity and they also very recently finally got water (not necessarily potable) piped over the hill so that they now have a more or less steady supply.
There are maybe 5 teindas. Mercado Xtlali has, according to Ron, the widest selection of stuff but among the highest prices. The bright green tienda is the one he avoids. There is internet available, via satellite, at several small stores. Almost all the wifi is locked up and there is no cell service so no banda ancha. If you need a phone, there’s a little store that will sell you time on their phone. Or you can use Skype if you get internet although Ron says it’s iffy at best. There is no propane tank to fill your bottles. Instead, you exchange your beautifully painted, almost new empty bottle for an old rusty full bottle. Once a week or so, they take the empties somewhere and get them filled. I haven’t seen an ATM or any signs for ATMs yet. I’ll be curious to see whether credit cards are accepted since it’s unlikely that the stores are connected to any banks via internet.
So, here we sit happily in Puerto Don Juan. Getting ready to clean the boat so we can host happy hour on Siempre Sabado this afternoon at 4:30 – 5:00 PACIFIC DAYLIGHT TIME!
*Super moon: 20-30% brighter and 14-15% nearer than other full moons of 2012