Oct 19

Sis’s Big Day!

As many of you will know, our visit to the UK this summer ended with some devastating news about Siga Siga – but that is for a different post. This is all about wonderful friends, good times shared and a great wedding.

For this trip our travel arrangements took us via Phoenix and Toronto. From Guaymas, Mexico, the easiest way of leaving the country – without breaking the bank on air fares – is by taking the bus north into Arizona. The travel time seems to vary between seven and ten hours [to Phoenix], so we took the overnight bus and arrived in time to visit a diner for breakfast.

We had been warned that Phoenix is an “oven” between July and September [thanks Allen, you were absolutely right!].

p1080171-640x480Consequently there was hardly anyone around. Anyone with any sense either leaves the city during the summer months or sits somewhere in air-conditioned buildings.

A further consequence was that many of the city attractions are closed. We passed the closed train museum…

p1080172-640x462….though to be honest, it looked as though this might have been closed permanently – which is a shame as there was probably some interesting stuff.

p1080173-640x462The Art museum is only open for half the week which didn’t include Tuesday, so all we saw here was a surprisingly coloured plastic “Made in China” dinosaur in a cage!

p1080175-640x480Maybe if the museum had been open we would have learned of its significance?

Finally, we found the “Heard” museum open. This was the museum I had really wanted to see because it highlights the history, culture and art of the South-Western Native American tribes. Unfortunately, it was about 3.30 when we finally got there and it closed at 5pm. As we had plans to have two or three full days in Phoenix in October on our return we decided that we could give more time to the galleries and exhibition rooms at a later date so just wandered around the grounds looking at the various statues….














…..and had a cold drink in the pleasant patio area.

We were particularly interested in this memorial which included those from the First Nation who received the Medal of Honour for their gallantry and actions beyond the call of duty in wars ranging from the Indian Wars to Vietnam.

p1080177-640x399Not quite sure who would have been honoured for what in the Indian Wars but, as the memorial has been erected by the Native American people, they must know.

[The Heard museum awaits my return – as does all the other places we had planned to visit in October – but they are still there if the opportunity arises in the future.]

We hadn’t seen anywhere open to eat in the centre of Phoenix so, as we had a day ticket [US $4 per person] for the tram/bus system, we clambered aboard a tram and went to the Tempe district where we found a very adequate watering hole called the Grill on Mill Street.

p1080181-2-640x426The food was perfectly reasonable as well!

Early the following morning we flew to Toronto where we had a stopover of about 7 hours. An excellent rail connection between the airport and the city meant that we could have a day out and we did a whistle-stop tour of the waterfront.

p1080194-640x480Another great pub….

p1080195-640x480…more beers and food and a relaxing time watching people enjoying their time on the water on “Riverboats”….

p1080188-2-640x480….and “Galleons” ….

p1080190-2-640x480….and you can just see some sailboats in the background.

Once in the UK we had just under four weeks to pack in everything we wanted to do. Almost immediately after arriving I had a fabulous evening out with the “Sundowners” – my erstwhile colleagues. Why I didn’t take a camera I don’t know. But it was wonderful to see everyone…. …and it’s a date next time I am in the UK. Thanks Sue, Anne, Peter, Steve, John, Paul, Dave.

Similarly I got together with some former school friends – organised by Chris, who then – unfortunately – couldn’t attend. I now have some new [or should I say old] friends on FB.

As always happens, we were welcomed everywhere and invited to join people for lunches and dinners out, meals in people’s homes and BBQ’s. You all know who you are and we once again thank everyone for their hospitality.

We went twice to the Lake District. The first visit was to the Windermere area….

p1080201-640x480…. specifically to Jenkin Crag where Mike and Andrea scattered Arnold’s ashes….











Arnold loved the Lake District and spent many happy hours walking there. He and Marybelle shared a particular love of Jenkin Crag – and that is where he joined her once more.

p1080212-640x480Martin seemed more interested in finding Pokemon, regardless of the ribbing from Fiona….

p1080222-2-480x640….and the dogs just waited patiently for their walk to start again.














Our second visit a couple of weeks later was at the kind invitation of Phil and Emma who have a house overlooking Grasmere. A fantastic view from “Huntingstile”….

p1080303-640x283…. which we believe is actually called “Poet’s view”. We had a great few days there and, in the main the weather was kind. On our second day we were joined by Pete and Marley, left Joel, Georgie and Rae with their respective “sitters” and did a walk over Loughrigg Fell……..

p1080305-640x480….had coffee at Skelwith Bridge, then lunch at the Drunken Duck before taking the Black Fell route……p1080307-3-640x458

…….. to Elterwater and then over Huntingstile Crag back to Grasmere. A brilliant walk.

Of course beer is always a feature and as well as a stop at the Hawkshead Brewery and Beer Hall – in Staveley, Cumbria

p1080299-3-640x272….. we also managed to coincide the Grasmere trip with a beer festival there. Wonder how that happened!

Quite a range of beers…..

p1080309-640x404….and of course the tasting and scoring/notes were taken very seriously. Well for the first couple of pints anyway!

p1080308-2-640x480We also did a few walks around Ramsbottom/Bury. On walks near the renovated Bury to Rawtenstall Railway line we saw a number of diesel and steam trains pass by. Sorry any diesel enthusiasts out there – but I do feel steam is much better.

img_4237-640x480I said that the weather was mainly kind. It was, except for BBQ’s! Three BBQ’s. Three rainy days/evenings. But we made the best of things as usual.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAp1080295-2-640x480









Tp1080297-640x480The BBQ at Chris and John’s house followed their wedding the day before. What a day that was – and the sun shone throughout.

Below is a selection of my favourite pictures from the ones Mike took on the day.



























p1080249-2-640x458He was supposed to be “official photographer”, but – naughtily, though very sensibly – “delegated” the task to Dave. Chris was not best pleased with Mike because Dave was supposed to be a guest only – but it was Dave who actually got “the waggy finger”!!!

p1080263-2-480x640It was a fabulous day from beginning to end with respective families and a few close friends enjoying the ceremony, a wonderful meal and then entertainment – and yet another beer festival – in the evening. A second “cake” was produced by the owner of the Cricket Club – which went down very well….

p1080293-2-640x480Oh – you haven’t seen the first cake yet – Sorry. Here are the bride and groom – with Preston!

p1080241-2-640x480Given that we had flown into Gatwick, we made our way back down south via Bury St Edmunds where we once again visited Andrea and family and also spent a day with Caroline and John.

20160909_135517-640x480Regardless of having been to the city several times before we hadn’t previously walked the Cathedral gardens and it was really nice to do so. Caroline has just been accepted as a city tour guide which she intends to undertake in her spare time – and she managed to put this into practice even before her training for the role actually begins!

20160909_140215-462x640We also saw, and read about, the importance of Bury St. Edmunds in relation to the Magna Carta….

20160909_140135-462x640…. and as it was a special weekend of open days we also had a free visit to the small but interesting Moyse museum contained within a preserved medieval town house in the city centre..

Three nights in London with James concluded our visit. Most of it consisted of more breweries and beers….











Sorry Mike I know you think photos of the backs of people are stupid and pointless.

I escaped for a while and wandered the banks of the Thames. It was good to see water craft of all shapes and sizes.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAlthough I didn’t know it at the time I took this photograph….

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA….I have now found out that this river barge “Huber Ballesteros”, named after a current Union leader and political prisoner in Columbia, came second in the 2016 Thames Barge Driving competition held annually by the Company of Watermen and Lightermen. There were three or four of these barges out on the river so I don’t know if they were practising for next year or whether they hire them out to anyone who fancies a go. Looked like very hard work to me.

Walking from place to place we crossed the Millennium Bridge and saw “The Cube”.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThis sculpture was made by the South Korean artist, Ik Joong Kang and is called “Imagining Re-unification”. It consists of hundreds of 70cm x70cm drawings transferred from original palm sized sketches on rice paper which were done by North Korean refugees in South Korea. Illuminated at night – which must have been worth seeing – the 7m? cube floated on the Thames for 1 month as part of the “Totally Thames Festival”.

Having enjoyed our visit to Windsor Castle on our last trip home we decided to again “do something different” and chose Greenwich. Another great place.

We walked through the park to the Royal Observatory….p1080322-2-379x640

p1080321-2-640x480p1080316-2-311x640….. and can now say that as well as having straddled the Equator – or at least the line which represents it [April 2015] – we have also been to the Meridian Line.

p1080319-3-480x640The view of the Naval museum and the skyline behind was quite amazing.

p1080318-640x311In the museum I found most fascinating the restored iconic painting of Queen Elizabeth I.

p1080314-2-640x574The Armada Portrait was painted when she was in her 50’s and commemorates the failed invasion of England by the Spanish in 1588. It was a painting which depicted female power and, according to historians, was packed with meaning and metaphor. Upright posture, open arms and a clear gaze apparently symbolise vitality and strength. Suns, embroidered in gold, signify power and enlightenment and the Moon, and pearls, Chastity. Her fingers on the globe point to the New World and the mermaid on her chair symbolises [Spanish] sailors having being lured to their destruction. It would seem that the two maritime pictures in the background, showing the engagement of the English fleet with the Armada and the wreck of the Spanish ships on the Irish coast, are C18 re-paintings which overlay the C16 originals.

Lastly, the Cutty Sark.

p1080325-640x480As I said at the outset, our last few days in the UK were severely marred by us having heard that gale force winds associated with Hurricane Newton had destroyed some of the pontoons at Marina Fonatur, Guaymas and that Siga Siga had sunk. We made the decision to cut short our holiday and returned to Guaymas as soon as we could.

All of what has happened between then and now will be written up and posted in due course – but it’s not over yet, so we all have to wait for the final outcome.

In the meanwhile we try to remember all the good times, our lovely friends and that things could be a lot worse.

Permanent link to this article: http://www.sigasiga.co.uk/2016/10/19/siss-big-day/

Aug 16

Missions and minerals – Loreto, Mulege and Santa Rosalia

In my previous two posts I mentioned the towns of Loreto, Mulegé and Santa Rosalía but, deliberately, didn’t go into any detail about them because I felt they warranted a specifically dedicated post. So, here we go.

The three towns are situated in the northern half of the Mexican State of Baja California Sur and [as well as La Paz in the southern part of the Baja] are the principal provisioning stops for cruisers in the western Sea of Cortez. Having said that, you won’t be able to stock up much in “specialist” goods – though there is a rather excellent deli [called “Dali”] in Loreto which carries quite a lot of food imported from the US and where we found lamb and duck and, even more amazingly, a decent cheddar style cheese. It might sound a bit strange that a decent cheese takes on more significance than osso buco or duck breast but being a cheese lover, believe me, finding good cheddar in Mexico is a cause for celebration.

All three towns have at least one supermarket as well as smaller tiendas and “Panaderias” [Bakeries] – this one in Mulegé being quite famous for its French bread.

Panaderia Boleo, Loreto

Panaderia El Boleo – the French Bakery, Loreto

Unfortunately, I think the Baguette is a seasonal thing in Loreto – and we were there out of season, but their bread rolls were good and not sweet. I mention flavour because a lot of Mexican bread has quite a lot of sugar in it and therefore a bit too sweet for my taste.

But, I didn’t set aside these towns from my previous posts to talk about food – I did it because of their interesting historical significance and their attraction as places to visit.

Loreto and Mulegé have a long history in the settlement of the Baja Peninsula – and north into [US] California.

Missionaries from Spain started arriving in the area in C16…

P1070748…. but didn’t really start to settle until the late C17. On a very auspicious date in 1697…

P1070745…. i.e 25th October – my birthday [not in 1697 obviously!], the Jesuit priest Juan María Salvatierra landed at Loreto, with a boat load of men to establish a settlement and the first mission of the Californias.

Mision Nuestra Senora de Loreto

Mision Nuestra Senora de Loreto

Now, when I say a boat load of men, don’t get too carried away with your thinking as this was the boat.

P1070760 (3)However, a settlement was established, the Misión Nuestra Señora de Loreto was built and a centre for church, government and military activities was developed. Twenty three further Jesuit “misións” followed….

P1070749…and it was in Loreto that the Franciscan monk, Junipero Serra – who you last heard about in one of my earlier blogs when I wrote of our stop in [Mexican] San Blas – landed before sailing on to San Diego.

Because of the scarcity of imported materials and the lack of skilled labourers, the Misíon buildings are quite simple in style both inside….

Inside Loreto Mission

Interior – Loreto Mission

….and out.

Santa Rosalia Mission, Mulege

Santa Rosalia Mission, Mulege

Whilst Loreto’s mission is in the centre of the town, the surviving one in Mulegé was built in 1705 on a slight hillside outside of town. The original mission, built in the Arroyo, was swept away in 1700 by flooding.

Mulegé is noted as the “oasis” town of the region, surrounded by date palms….P1080052

…..and we remarked that it was the only flowing river we have seen in those parts of the Baja we have visited.

The missionaries made full use of the fresh water supply from the river and built a small dam for irrigation purposes.

P1080056 (2)Unfortunately the dam has done nothing to stop the flood waters. The road bridge and the area surrounding the town most recently suffered severe damage during Tropical Storms/Hurricanes John, Jimena, Paul and Odile in 2006, 2009, 2012 and 2014 respectively.

Fortunately the town itself escaped the worst of the water damage though buildings were battered by high winds. Even so, many of the older buildings have survived, such as this residence….

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA….a number of small businesses including this “Taqueria”, where we enjoyed a nice cold beer,……

P1080060…and, most notably, the building we think was built as a centre for education for the military [plantel literally translates as “clique”].

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIt was the area closest to the sea which took the brunt of the storms – and the shape and depth of the estuary mouth have changed many times.

Looking up the estuary towards the town, Mulege

Looking up the estuary towards the town, Mulege

Now non navigable to most vessels [including dinghies!] it is hard to believe that Mulegé even had a harbour and that, in 1719, was the site of the first shipyard in Baja California.

Looking north from the lighthouse, Mulege

Looking north from the lighthouse, Mulege

Mulegé’s other claim to fame [as well as its famous Misíon] came about because of that harbour. During the Mexican-American war U.S. marines and sailors fought against the Mexican militia up and down this coastal part of the Baja. On 2nd October 1847 the Battle of Mulegé followed an American attack on the harbour. Whether the U.S. forces left because they considered they had taught the locals a hard lesson or whether they retreated seems to depend on which side you were on at the time! However, Mulegé was never occupied by the Americans and the “victory” galvanised the Mexicans. As a tribute to the undefeated town “Heroica” was added to its name – as displayed on the town portal.

P1080058But, I seem to have gone off track slightly as I haven’t actually finished talking about the missions. So, I need to go back to Loreto and the museum there where we first learnt about the impact the various missionaries [and other Spanish settlers] had on the indigenous population.

P1070754 (2)In the 80 years of Jesuit missionary work 90% of the local Indian people died of recurrent epidemics of European diseases e.g. smallpox and from endemic syphilis which increased child mortality and decreased the birth rate. Whilst their deaths contributed to the demise of the missions it was the Spanish Government who withdrew the Jesuit clergy because they were thought to have become too rich and powerful! They were replaced by Franciscans, and then Dominicans both of whom consolidated congregations and therefore closed several of the mission buildings. Finally, following Mexico’s independence from Spain, the Baja became a federal territory and the governor put an end to the mission system by turning them into parish churches.

However, some good came from the mission system. Some small industries were established which remain today e.g. the “Trapiche” whereby sugar cane was made into molasses and also sweets called “Piloncillo” or “Panocha de Gajo”.

P1070752 (2)The peeled sugar cane was dropped into the centre of the mill, turned by a mule. The liquid sugar fell into a container made from cow-skin and was then transferred to and cooked in copper kettles to the required consistency. Pieces of orange were added for flavour after which it was cooled in mesquite wood moulds.

Systematic cultivation of fruits and vegetables was also introduced and the Rancher way of life developed – a “typical” ranch dwelling being depicted within the museum…

P1070755Mango trees still proliferate inside the Loreto mission museum courtyard and, in season, their fruits are free to all visitors. We took four lovely fresh juicy ones away with us.P1070758 (2)

With regard to museums we also visited the prison museum in Mulegé…..

P1080063….which operated on an “open prison” basis for about half of its inmates – those in the outer cells not considered too mad or bad. They worked as local labourers during the day, returned to the prison at night and sent their earnings home to their families. The territorial prison opened in 1907 and operated until 1974 when the inmates were moved to a new, larger facility north of Mulegé. Given my work background I was fascinated to learn that Mexico had open prisons and that on occasions, whilst not able to drink or dance, they were allowed to attend Dances and watch from the sidelines!!

The lives of those unfortunates in the inner cells was very different. No privacy, water torture and small cells shared by up to four increasingly “mad” souls. In the museum there was not much in the way of prison artefacts – probably because there was very little in the actual prison itself other than a cot and blanket per inmate – so some of the cells had been filled with bits and pieces of old carts, some ancient typewriters and a few tools. Very bizarre – and the “star” of the show is this satellite – which fell to earth and landed in the prison!!!!

P1080065 (2)We had hoped to also visit the museum in Santa Rosalía – but “Odile” put a stop to that as the “Museo Historico Minero” lost its roof. Odile caused a great deal of damage all along the waterfront. What was Marina Santa Rosalía is now a single twisted frame with what might once have been a nice two mast boat leaning drunkenly alongside. In fact the whole of the harbour, except for the SW corner where the ferry docks and where Marina Fonutur survived, is pretty much a mess.

P1080117It is possible to walk out on the harbour wall and see the remains of piers and docks. At the north side of the harbour is …. well I am really not quite sure what……..

P1080119 (2)….. and I am even less sure where the rider of this cycle has gone!…..

P1080116Santa Rosalía’s roots are very different from those of Loreto and Mulegé. It is rather confusing that it is called Santa Rosalía because the river of the same name is the one at Mulegé and the Mulegé mission was Santa Rosalía. However, Santa Rosalía it is and was founded and built in 1884 by the French Copper mining company “El Boleo”. The mining company built wooden houses for its workers……











….and the building style is also reflected in the town hall…..

P1080102 (2)…and the Workers Union Offices.

P1080100The name of the library came as a bit of a surprise….

P1080091…and it was very interesting to find that the church was designed by Gustav Eiffel.

P1080093It is made of steel and was acquired in Belgium by the manager of the mining company, shipped to Santa Rosalía on the company sailboat “San Juan” and dedicated to Santa Barbara, the patron saint of miners. The church was enlarged to meet the growing population and the walls modified. It looks as though some of the original exterior walls now make up the ceiling of the extension.

P1080095However, attractive street planning and nice architecture does not, in itself, make for “the good life”. Frequent explosions, lung disease, cholera, yellow fever, TB etc claimed the lives of hundreds. Fresh water was in short supply and wages were low.

The Boleo Company owned and ran the mine from 1885 until 1954 when it ceased production. However, to prevent the economic collapse of Santa Rosalía and surrounding communities, a Mexican state-owned company assumed control and reopened the works using basically the same [rather archaic] equipment and process used by the French.

P1080111The operation was never really profitable, and the mine was closed again in the 1980s, when lower-grade ore and old technology made continued operation impractical.

A Canadian firm began intermittent exploration of the El Boleo mine in 2010 and subsequently, in partnership with a Korean Consortium has recommenced work in the area, but has developed new sites leaving the old workings now in complete disrepair.P1080104

My friend and past work colleague Paul [Holt] came to mind when I saw this….P1080108

….and he might be pleased to know that the town celebrates its heritage with a rather better model.

P1080089For visitors wanting evening entertainment we saw a band performing in Loreto [it was actually part of a fishing tournament prize giving]…..OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

….and we strolled along the Malecón in Santa Rosalía.

Overlooking the harbour at dusk, Santa Rosalia

Overlooking the harbour at dusk, Santa Rosalia

There are a couple of decent restaurants in Mulegé and a very nice ice cream parlour in Santa Rosalía but our favourite town for eating and drinking was Loreto where there was a home brew pub…OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Mike very much enjoyed the “Tombstone” and the “Rattlesnake” – but didn’t get round to trying the El Bandito

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERANext door to “1697” was an excellent restaurant – “Mi Gourmet”. Prior to enjoying Fish Fillet Vera Cruz [Mike] and King Prawn wrapped in bacon [Me] we shared a starter of the local Chocolate Clams baked with Mozzarella.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe name comes from the colour of their shells. They were delicious though Mike actually preferred the raw clam – eaten like an oyster and washed down with tequila.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAlthough this would be a good place to finish I feel I need to say something about the anchoring/berthing at these three towns.

Mulegé is an open roadstead and, if you remember from earlier, there isn’t really anywhere to take or land a dinghy. The town itself is also a good 20-30 minute walk down the estuary. We didn’t take the boat there. We took a bus from Santa Rosalía and spent two nights in a nice small hotel.

Loreto is also an open roadstead but during calm weather several boats anchor outside the small fishing harbour. We spent three comfortable nights. If you don’t like roadstead anchoring or the weather is against you then just 14 miles to the south is the almost totally enclosed anchorage of Puerto Escondido – a good hurricane hole where you can also rent mooring balls from the marina – which only has about 4 actual berths.

At Santa Rosalía is the small Fonatur marina with berths for about a dozen yachts and all the same facilities as the other Fonaturs.

There are fuel docks at Puerto Escondido and Santa Rosalía and, in an emergency, fuel could be jerry canned from Loreto or Mulegé.

Fuel dock and naval vessel, Santa Rosalia

Fuel dock and naval vessel, Santa Rosalia

Apologies if this post has seemed to jump around but it is just the way the writing went. I never really know when I start to write how it is going to work. But, I hope you got at least a taste of the three great little towns which we are really glad we visited.

Permanent link to this article: http://www.sigasiga.co.uk/2016/08/16/missions-and-minerals-loreto-mulege-and-santa-rosalia/

Aug 07

Bahia Concepcion – and other anchorages between Loreto and Santa Rosalia

The second part of our cruising journey in the Sea of Cortez this year was spent mainly in Bahía Concepcíon. I will tell you about that in a moment – but first, a couple of stops we made between Loreto and the Bahía.

Isla Coronados, just 6nm NE of Loreto, is a volcanic island with a walk up to the top of the crater. It was our intention to do the walk – but by the end of June the temperatures are really beginning to climb – so we didn’t!

A dinghy trip to shore seemed a much better option….

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA….where we enjoyed the lovely turquoise waters….

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA….and played with some fish. Or, rather, they played with us. As we kicked around in the shallows we obviously disturbed tiny delicacies in the sand which these Sergeant Majors like to eat.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAmusingly, when we stood still so that we could take their photograph the sand settled and they decided to nibble us instead!

We had intended spending three nights there so that we could have another day enjoying the soft white sand beaches and lovely water but the local wildlife had other ideas. On our second morning I woke to find about half a dozen bees flying around the cockpit. Well, half a dozen isn’t bad, so I put the kettle on for a brew and took two cuppas back to bed while we listened to the local radio net and the weather. 20 minutes later we got up to find that we no longer had six bees in the cockpit – we had about one hundred and they were mainly in the saloon/galley! Among the cruising fraternity, Isla Coronados is renowned for its bees. We had, therefore, been cautious and had not e.g. rinsed our swimsuits in fresh water after our swim the day before. They search out fresh water, as we had found out on Isla Espírutu Santo at the outset of our “Sea” adventures when we washed down our solar panels after crossing from Mazatlán. So, obviously they were attracted by the sink and taps. We decided it was time to go. The good thing is that they are territorial – so within about 5 minutes of leaving the anchorage [and therefore the island] they all flew off – back home.

Our second anchorage was at Caleta San Juanico – a beautiful place about 19 miles north west of Isla Coronados. It is one of the favourite anchorages in the Sea due to its assortment of beaches and geological formations.

P1070770We spent two nights there anchored, the first night, west of the two rocky pinnacles [you can just see us in the right of the photograph below behind the right hand rock].

P1070780The second day we moved between the rocks, taking the place of the two boats nearer the centre of the picture who left early morning, and found it to be quite well protected from swell as well as wind. We went for a pleasant walk across the peninsular to an alternative anchorage called “La Ramada”. It was very pretty and we will keep it in mind for next year. The folded rocks along the shore were quite interesting….

P1070773… and we found another skeleton – a fossil for the future!

P1070774Some cacti were starting to bloom….

P1070777…which seemed a bit strange as we haven’t had any rain?

We also saw several lizards.

Carmen Island Zebra Tailed Lizard

Carmen Island Zebra Tailed Lizard

Although mainly inhabitants of Isla Carmen – hence the name – they are also found on this part of the mainland.

Another memory tree decorates the shoreline….

P1070782…this one having some rather more sophisticated mementoes than the painted pebble!

P1070783 (2)However our most memorable aspect of San Juanico was seeing a pair of Osprey nesting in the rocks in front of the boat.

P1070960We spent a couple of hours just watching them – fabulous.

P1070856 (2)P1070914 (2)The following day we made our way to Bahía Concepcíon. This large bay is almost like a sea within the Sea and is protected from the east, south and west. Because it is open to the north some of its anchorages are too exposed during the main [winter] sailing season – though there are places tucked away where boats gather. In the summer months all anchorages are protected and/or open to the gentle prevailing south easterlies and we spent ten days in four different places.

Having covered 46 miles from San Juanico we first anchored in the top corner – at Santo Domingo – where the 3-7m [10-23 ft] depth extends for almost half a mile from shore.

This gives some indication of the shoal which can be found in this bay. Sailing down into the main part of the bay it is important to keep more or less midway between the shorelines – probably favouring the eastern side – as shallow waters extend a long way out from both shores.

Once into the main part of the bay there are, within about a 4 mile stretch, eight anchorages – mainly tucked into the coves along the western shore. We were headed for Playa El Burro which, with its immediate neighbour Playa Coyote, gets filled with boats for what has now become an “institution” in the Sea – i.e. Geary’s 4th July party.

Geary, an ex cruiser, settled in Playa El Burro 21 years ago and this was his 18th party. He is best known for his daily weather reports on the Sonrisa Ham net and annually cruisers gather to celebrate with him. We were really pleased that the timing fit with our schedule. It isn’t necessarily something we would want to do year on year – but it was great fun for a one off event.

A few of the happy revellers

A few of the happy revellers

Lots of eating [Geary’s hot dogs complimented by various pot luck dishes to share provided by the cruisers] and drinking and fun in the sun and sea….

The rubber ones are harmless!!!

The rubber ones are harmless!!!

Don't be fooled - there is gin in that orange!

Don’t be fooled – there is gin in that orange!

…. followed by fireworks – provided by a guy who works on film sets with special effects pyrotechnics and made the fireworks himself.











Being in the bay wasn’t just about partying though – especially for Mike who could be seen variously swabbing the decks….

P1070982…… and fixing the mainsail!

P1070993Obviously I just sit around doing nothing except take photographs – if only!!!

Ashore at Playa El Burro are a few Petroglyphs scattered around the hillside.












We later read about them when we visited a museum in Mulegé – about ten miles up the coast – but I have included the explanation here as it seems to fit better with the photographs. I love some of the explanations we have found in museums – the translations are sometimes quite funny – but at least there are translations and better than anything I could do from English to Spanish.

P1080062Another popular anchorage is Playa Santa Barbara but it is almost enclosed and we decided that with next to no wind and blazing sun it wasn’t going to be that pleasant so we by-passed and went about four miles further south in the bay to Isla Requéson – a small islet connected to the mainland by a narrow sand spit.

P1080007Probably my favourite place in Bahía Concepcíon, it is very quiet and relaxing and we enjoyed our short walk on the island….

P1080016.. and our swim in the warm waters by the spit.

This seems like a good time to tell you about the water temperature – it’s about the same as a warm bath and other than the fact that it is wet it is really hard to tell that you have entered the water at all! Because of its almost landlocked aspect and generally shallow waters, Bahía Concepcíon is warmer than the rest of the Sea of Cortez – at least according to those who know [or say they do]. All I know is that everywhere we have swum in the Sea has been very pleasant indeed! For those who like a more refreshing dip, come in the winter months when I believe it is considerably cooler.

Whilst I have shown you photographs of cactus before they have always been growing in, at least, dry sand. The cactus on Requéson appeared to spring directly from the rocks. I am sure there must have been dregs of soil or sand there but it didn’t really look like it.

P1080011We also came across something on a branch and we couldn’t decide whether it was some form of fungus or a dead slug – what say you?

P1080022Our final anchorage in the Bahía was Playa Santispac.

P1080024 (2)This was the most “built up” bay we visited and is the closest to the above mentioned town of Mulegé. Highway 1 actually skirts the whole bay – though it is really hard to believe that it is the main road from the border to Cabo and La Paz. There was maybe a vehicle every minute or so during the day and next to nothing at night. Mulegé is, therefore, the closest town for provisioning if you are spending long periods of time in Bahía Concepcíon, but most of the bay anchorages have small tiendas selling mainly tinned goods – though we got bread and tomatoes as well – and there are also the occasional bar/restaurants. During the winter months the bay is busy with RV’s and more of the restaurants are open but we ate out on two evenings at two different places and had a beer at a third.

Having left Bahía Concepcíon on 10th July we stopped twice more before reaching Santa Rosalía. Punta Chivato, 23 miles north of Santispac, was a nice place to stop for just one night. It is famous for its shelling beach. Although we think we have seen prettier shells elsewhere, you certainly couldn’t fault it for the volume of shells available.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOur final stop was Sweet Pea Cove on Isla San Marcos. To get to it from Punta Chivato we took a route outside the island avoiding the Craig Channel. Whilst looking quite wide [2.5 miles], the navigable section of the channel is only narrow [0.5mile] and the bottom rises from 2,400 ft at the north end of Isla San Marcos to just 26-30ft in the Channel which severely amplifies the current. Given the weather conditions it was possibly an unnecessary detour but we encountered about 1 knot current against on the outside of the island and when, having rounded the northern point and turned south towards the anchorage we had 2-3 knots in our favour. So, coming up the channel may well have felt like quite an uphill struggle.

All in all then, the second half of our travels in the Sea have been just as good as the first. It was a different experience with most of our time in just four anchorages in Bahía Concepcíon rather than a change of anchorage almost every day. We also spent time with other cruisers which was totally opposite from the La Paz to Loreto leg when we were practically alone every stop we made.

However some things were the same, regardless of the time spent in a place or where in the Sea we were or however many other people were there as well. These were the beauty of the landscape, the variety of wildlife – especially given that it is mainly desert – and the calm and wonderfully relaxing atmosphere.

Sunrise at Isla Requeson

Sunrise at Isla Requeson

Sunset at Bahia Santa Ines

Sunset at Bahia Santa Ines/Punta Chivato

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