Bolts, Goats, and Birthdays

When last I posted we were anchored in the southern bay on Isla San Francisco. We’d spent a few lovely days there, enjoying getting back into Sea mode…walking beaches, snorkeling reefs, collecting agates, paddle boarding, fishing, and just sitting in the cockpit gazing at the changing view. Definitely good stuff!

Then Murphy showed up. We were doing our pre-departure checks; oil level – check, water level – check, belts tight – check, and hmmmm, why is there a bolt and washer in the bilge under the engine? That wasn’t there when we left Caleta Partida!

After a little searching we realized that the bolt hadn’t just loosened and fallen off, but that the bolt head had actually been sheared off, so there was no longer anything holding the bolt into the engine. This particular bolt has an important duty; holding on the alternator bracket! Rutro!

It was time for some head scratching to decide upon our plan of attack. Since we were only 20 miles north of La Paz, the largest and most well equipped city in the Sea, our first inclination was to return there to try to find a replacement a.s.a.p. We also had to consider the timing though, since cousin Barb was scheduled to fly into Loreto, an additional 80 miles north in 5 days and we weren’t feeling too confident that we’d find the part we needed in Loreto. Add in the strong afternoon southerlies that were forecast and we had some quick planning to do.

Marty zip-tied the alternator bracket on so that it would stay put in the near term, and then it was time to weigh anchor. We pointed Happy Dance toward La Paz, a 20 mile run south into building seas and winds. Thankfully we didn’t need to run the engine, and made good time with 15-18 knots of wind on a beat to windward. However the waves were getting steeper and it was getting darned uncomfortable! Marty was below reading the Yanmar manual (what else do you do when beating to windward..ha!), and pretty soon he appeared saying, “I have a new idea”.

Long story short, we made a U-turn after 14 miles of bashing south, let the sails out and enjoyed a lovely following sea as we coasted up the channel heading north. Marty decided that we could “hopefully” have Barb bring us the part we needed. I mean hey, Seattle has LOTS of bolt stores, right? Well, Gene, a.k.a. The Bolt Man (and Barb’s husband) found what we needed based on our first attempt at giving the specific bolt a name from the less than specific Yanmar manual.

Did you catch the reference to “first attempt”? Yep, you guessed it. Barb arrived, YEAH! Bolt arrived, NOOOOO! Wrong one. Now what do we do? Murphy is definitely getting his chuckles with us on this one. More quick planning! We had 5 more days before our friends on Cake were to pick up their daughters in Loreto. Soooooo, with some fast emails (with photos this time), Gene the Bolt Man soon had another bolt on it’s way via overnight mail to San Luis Obispo where The Cake Daughters would pick it up and bring it to Mexico.

So after our day of 45 miles sailing in circle to go a mere 9 miles, we anchored on Isla San Jose in a magical spot called Mangle Solo.  There is a long sandy beach and a huge cordon cactus forest which is pretty unique to the area.  We spent a quiet evening listening to song birds onshore, then headed for Agua Verde in the morning.

The happy ending to this story is that when we finally rendezvoused with Cake and the before mentioned daughters extraordinaire, Murphy was sent back to the bilge where he belongs! Continuing with our engine pre-departure check… new bolt in place, CHECK!!!

Next up, travels with Barb! We picked up “cuz” at the airport in Loreto, did some walking around town to see the sights, had some yummy Cabrillo con mango salsa and a margarita, and then headed back to Happy Dance! Barb got her first look at how we do big provisioning runs here; having to haul stuff to the dock, load it into the dinghy, and up onto Happy Dance. She didn’t get the full taste of it though since we had a car and didn’t ride the collectivo bus, but we’ll cut her a little slack…this time, ha!

After a totally calm night we pulled out of Puerto Escondido in the morning, headed for Bahia Salinas on the southeast corner of Isla Carmen. We had a nice sail for most of the trip, saw a few dolphins, and even flew the goose for a bit! We anchored in 15 feet of clear blue water off a 2-mile beach of white sand and got ready to jump in the pool. Ahhhhhh! A day at the beach to swim, read, beach comb, dig for chocolate clams, and laugh at the ghost crabs ganging up on a seagull…yep, all is well in paradise.

Salinas is also the site of an old salt mining operation that was abandoned in the 1980’s. We walked through the old buildings and equipment, and out to the remains of the salt ponds that are now a strange pinkish color (from rusted equipment in them?). It is beautiful in an eerie sort of way, with crusty salt covered mud all around, and salt waves that have solidified on the shores. Real sea salt!

After a couple of days in Salinas we headed south and loosed the goose again on our way down to Bahia Agua Verde. This is one of our favorite spots with a large protected bay full of beautiful colors and rock formations, and a dramatic backdrop of the Sierra de la Giganta range.

Shopping is always an eye-opener for guests when they come to visit, and visiting the Agua Verde tienda was no exception. It’s a small cement block hut, about 15’x15’, with no cold storage and the shelves are stocked with one or two of each item, basically whatever the owners were able to pick up on a trip to town. There is a 25-mile dirt road that connects the village with Mexico Highway 1, so the villagers are very self-sufficient. We picked up our fresh eggs, a few homemade tortillas, a couple of avocadoes and we were done! Back to Tiny Dancer (our dinghy) that was waiting for us on the beach, and off to Happy Dance for another dip in the pool!

The main reason for the trip to the tienda was to get the all-important huevos that I’d forgotten to buy in Loreto! I needed the eggs in order to make Marty’s special birthday surprise, a made from scratch carrot cake with cream cheese frosting! We even had birthday napkins, candles, AND balloons! I guess 60 years on the planet deserves a true celebration. And I do kind of love the guy… (ahhhhh).

Marty’s super deluxe 60th birthday even came with a special delivery present. Barb carried it on the airplane and even got it through customs without being taken back into the “leetle room”. What did Marty want so bad that risked our cousin’s freedom? A “remote control gyro copter with video capability”! And yes folks, this wifey came through, along with essential help from son Kyle and cousin Barb. The birthday surprise was a success and the drone has flown! It seems my 60-year-old is still a kid at heart; big surprise, eh?

Now back to the travel log…one of the unique things about Agua Verde is watching the goats. There are goat dairies in the area and the farmers let their goats wander the hills at night. (The locals make queso fresco from the milk and it’s sold in the tienda.) Every evening the goats appear as they make their way from west to east across the rocky cliffs above our anchorage. The leaders have bells on so they tinkle as they bound from rock to rock, and usually the herd follows. However there are a few that like to make their own way and we had many chuckles watching the renegades get stuck at a rock wall that’s too steep even for a goat to climb. Once when the tide was up their narrow path ended and they had to either turn back or swim, so the whole herd bleated the word back down the line and then they all turned around to try a new route. In the morning they do it all again, wandering back to the farms in the morning for brekkie and to be milked.

Our time in Agua Verde was too short, but we did get all the toys off the deck! Paddle boarding, kayaking, snorkeling, fishing, birthday celebrating, beach walking, and of course the ever popular goat watching! Fun times were had by all!

In order to be close to the airport for Barb’s imminent departure, (sad face) we left Agua Verde and motored up to Puerto Ballandra, on the west side of Isla Carmen. This is a perfect little cove with great snorkeling and some cool rock formations. We also rendezvoused with our friends on Cake, who had just picked up their two daughters from Loreto (remember the bolt saga??). We spent a lovely evening eating dinner on Cake, AND we even had cupcakes in honor of Marty’s recent birthday.

The next morning we motored over to Loreto, a roadstead anchorage that was getting a little rough in the afternoon winds, so Marty and Barb headed off in the dinghy to the panga dock. They found a taxi right away, and Barb was whisked away from us (another sad face) to head back to reality.

After dropping Barb off, quite literally (sorry!), we headed north to yet another beautiful anchorage on the southwest corner of Isla Coronados. The white sand in the anchorage makes the water a gorgeous light blue color, contrasting with the red stones lining the sides of the volcano on the island. Our friends Cake and Tigress were also at anchor there, so we had another fun evening of telling stories and laughing together. Boat people are so fun!

From Coronados we went north to Bahia San Juanico, another one of our favorites. We put down the hook and stayed five days in this amazing spot. I dug some more clams, and I speared my first fish, Marty flew his drone, and we explored all the nooks and crannies of this little slice of paradise. Interestingly, there are lot markers on shore, which made us wonder… hmmmm… wouldn’t a house with a buoy out front be nice? Maybe in 10 years or so when we’ve slowed down a bit; there are still far too many places we want to see.

So there you have it folks, our last few weeks of fun in the sun. We’re now tied to a hot dock in Santa Rosalia waiting for Hurricane Blanca to decide which way she will go. Currently she’s forecast to head our way as she slowly loses strength. Hopefully she’ll make her grand exit and head west out to sea without hurting the good people of Mexico.


** This blog is brought to you with special thanks to Gene the Bolt Guy, Barb the Birthday Deliverer, and the Cake Daughters Extraordinaire, along with a special request to Blanca to stay away!

*** P.S.,  Photos have been posted to the previous blog, “Almost Agates”.


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