Updates from GatoLocoSailing

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Baja 2011 Updates, The Whole Story

June 30th, 2011

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It’s always great to look back on a sailing season and recall all the fun and fascinating memories that will linger over the coming months. I would like to thank our crews for their participation in creating these memories which includes those vicarious crews that followed us from update to updated writing wonderful comments to our adventures. Please know that even though we might not of replied back to your comments,  we read them and enjoying every word of support and encouragement. It’s so much fun having you all on board with us.

You will find links below to updates from the cruise leg by leg organized from the most recent to where this season started. Things will probably be quiet over the coming months but I will post if I have something interesting to share.

Until the next update.

BTW: If you would like to follow Frankie, Neely & I as we travel through life on land join us on
www.gatolocosailing.com/bajaimages/LowellsBlog

Baja 2011 Updates, The Whole Story

June 2011

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May 2011

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April 2011IMG_0731

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March 2011

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3rd Annual Baja Seawind Rally 2011, Fun on Sea of Cortez

June 20th, 2011

Story & Photos by Lowell McCulley sailing Gato Loco (a Seawind 1000)


Seawind Rally boats in the south bay of Agua Verde near Loreto

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The Baja Seawind Rally always starts as boats gather for the annual Loreto Fest cruiser rally in Puerto Escondido, a huge protected harbor 10 miles south of Loreto, Baja California South (BCS). This pegs the Rally starting the first weekend in May so make your plans for next year.

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This year’s festival drew nearly 200 cruising boats for the 3 day event raising money for local charities, pumping a little money into the local economy as well as cleaning up the Puerto Escondido harbor. Lots of events, food and entertainment is the norm.

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The Seawind crews ruled the dance floor on night one.

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Right.. Blindfolded dinghy races with crew directing the driver provided lots of entertainment on Saturday.

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Loreto and the Sea of Cortez

The Loreto area is a perfect place to hold our annual Seawind Rally with a beautiful national reserve park of islands just off shore. All of this lies in the Sea of Cortez where the sea life can be spectacular. Cruisers head south down the Pacific coast from US ports each fall to winter in the Sea of Cortez and the mainland coast of Mexico in places like Puerto Vallarta. The May Loreto fest marks the nearing of the end of cruising season when boats head home, have their boat hulled for the summer or head further north in the Sea where waters are cooler for the summer.

Gato Loco, our Seawind 1000, begins our spring cruising season late April in time to arrive at Loreto Fest. Our home port is in the far north of the Sea of Cortez where the weather is just warming and seasonal storms are subsiding as we head south. The window between late April until mid June is our ideal spring sailing season as weather goes from cool to hot. Despite news reports these cruising grounds have never felt safer with the heightened Mexico security as we’ve completed our 9th season in the area.

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4 of the 5 islands that form the Loreto National Marine Reserve can be found in the chart to the left. Below is Isla Coronados’s north and south anchorages with turquoise waters and white sand beaches.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Loreto is one of the cleanest and friendliest cities on Baja with a nice international airport making it a great destination to visit even if you were not heading out sailing.

Back to the Seawind Rally…

With Loreto Fest wrapping up by mid-day Sunday the Rally plans were to head out to a near by anchorage Sunday night then on to Loreto for provisioning on Monday. All cruise plans are weather permitting as safety and comfortable sailing is very important. This year a strong weather front blasted into Puerto Escondido late Saturday night forcing crews to forgo Sunday Festival activities and stand watch on board as 50kt wind gusts blew through the harbor. Boats on both mooring balls and anchors danced for the next 48hrs delaying our plans. Monday winds were still gusting so some crew members organized a land trip to get provisions while others stayed on board to watch the weather. This turned out to be a good plan which allowed us to make our way to our first Rally destination on Tuesday, FINALLY. IMG_1262

Tuesday and the Rally is off for Salinas Bay on the NE corner of Isla Carmen (the big island). This gave us good protection as we sailed north and smooth water at the anchorage. This turned out to be a good plan as we still had 25kt north winds coming over Carmen giving us all a hot ride to Salinas Bay on relatively calm water.

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Finally, that Rally happy hour we’d been trying to have for the past two days came together. Ralph & Helen hosted a great evening on MoonDrifter with entertainment provided by Steve, Clare, Bruce and a special treat from Devin singing acapella.

The Rally boats are:

Ralph & Helen on MoonDrifter (1160)
Steve & Pam on Barramundi (1000) 
Larry & Nancy on Island Time (1000)
Guy & Carol on Stray Cat (1000)
Bruce, Tina & Devin on Cat Can Do (1000) 
Lowell, Bill & Carol on Gato Loco (1000)
Carol & Clare on Paradox (Cantana 38)
Our Phoenix sailing friends on a Moorings 443

Wednesday morning the unusual late season storm had passed and we awoke to glass smooth water in the bay.  Our plans… Visit the old Salt Mine operation on shore, dive the old wreck in the bay and then sail on to Isla Coronados 20 miles NW.

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Salinas Bay has a beautiful 2 mile white sand beach with a old Salt Mine operation, the only settlement present. A portion of the operation has been restored and is a hunting camp for big horn sheep hunted on the island. The staff gave us permission to tour the property at our own risk as many of the buildings are near collapse. Ralph was our tour guide since he has been many there times and knows a lot about it’s history. The mines not so old only shutting down around 1980 but seaside deterioration goes fast especially on these primitive structures.

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An old barge wreck from the salt operation sets in 35’ of water exposed on the surface and a nice place for snorkeling and diving. The Barramundi and Cat Can Do crews joined Gato Loco for cool swim to check it out. Water was 10 degree cooler than normal because of recent storms.

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We made way mid-day and had wind at our backs as we rounded the NE point of Carmen. Before long Gato Loco and Stray Cat were racing west toward Isla Coronados with their spinnakers flying. It’s always a treat when dolphins show up on your bow and especially with visibility this clear.

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Wednesday night birthday party for Bill on Gato Loco


Rounding the corner  heading into the north Coronados anchorage the water depth shallows to 5’ which created some interesting radio conversations. This anchorage is made for Seawinds with a shallow white sand bottom. Most keel boats have to anchor further off the beach making room for our Rally boats to anchor off the beach.

Gato Loco was the host for our Isla Coronados anchorage. Before long she was decorated and ready for the birthday party.

Barramundi takes anchorage in 4’ of water >>>>

 

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Thursday.. Island Time & Barramundi needed to be in La Paz by the weekend so we decided to make our final Rally anchorage 30 miles south at Agua Verde where a small fishing village calls home. This is another nice size anchorage with a north and south bay. The south bay, where we anchored, has a nice beach perfect for our annual Kurt Jerman Winnie roast. Unfortunately, Kurt and wife Laurie couldn’t make it this year but having this beach party made us feel they were with us.

Steve & Pam on Barramundi took children’s school supplies in to the village and traded it for fire wood. Larry, on Island Time, set up a nice fire pit for the evening activities. Perfect weather for a Winnie roast.

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Friday morning, our last Rally activity, Ralph & Helen had everybody over for a french toast breakfast with the help of all our contributions.  Barramundi’s Bloody Mary’s were especially good.

Our finally goodbyes and a group photo puts another great Rally in the books. Even with the shorter cruise due to the weather delay, a great time was had by all. Plans for next year are already underway.

 

Come join us next year!!

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Seawind Crews… Back.. Carol, Bill, Nancy, Ralph, Steve, Guy, Bruce. Front.. Lowell, Larry, Helen, Pam, Carol Tina & Devin


If you would like to read more here’s Gato Loco’s blogs from the Rally days

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Here’s the best pictures taken by Gato Loco during the cruise.. Click “View Slide Show” or “Download All” to view.

See you next year… Lowell

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Seriously !!! Is the Baja 2011 cruise really over??

June 19th, 2011

 

Yes, Seriously it’s over in what seems like a flash. Feels like only yesterday the initial planning was underway and now it lots of great memories. More on the some of the memorable moments but first a quick fill on our final passage from Gonzaga to Penasco.

Tuesday June 14th (last day of Baja 2011)

4 AM.. After our less than restful night, we worked to get our anchor up in 2’ swells rolling through the anchorage. We had done a few circles during the night and our 100’ of anchor chain was wrapped around a few rocks on the bottom. Using the swells to pump the chain  we slowly freed our selves and headed NNE at 29 degrees toward Penasco 90 miles out. Winds are perfect at 15 out of the NW.  We’re motor sailing with on the jib at 7kts with 3’ seas rolling at us on our port side.  The ladies are still sleeping, or at least trying. Finally, at 5:30 there’s enough light to raise the main safely. NW swells are still rolling and we have to turn into the wind and swells to raise the main with a crew on the cabin top. It’ best to not to do this in the dark where a rough wave might pitch a crew member overboard… Even with the morning light Lew takes an uneventful tumble. The main sail is now up with full power and we can now back the engines down and maintain our speed. Nice way to start the morning after our rough night. The sun peaks over the horizon just after 6 and the wind is holding steady so we add a second head sail to the mix and kick our speed up in the 8s.. We’ll be in Penasco in no time.

Mid day we have whales south of us, maybe 5 or 6 but not close enough to get photos. Yes, I was watching for any that might be in our path. I don’t want a repeat of our Leg 1 incident.

Talking on the radio to Villa in Cholla,  he forecasts west winds today but as the afternoon progresses winds slowly disappear and we motor the last couple hours on smooth water… Another uneventful crossing which is a good thing.

Above… Pat & Lew watch as the Penasco shoreline slowly appears. Those last few miles seem to take forever.

 

We motor past the new malecon waterfront at 6:30 after waving to Frankie and our Cholla friends who are waiting from El Capitan on top the Penasco mountain.

Another good leg completed on Gato Loco. I love how the experience of a leg always bonds the crew. There’s talk about turning around and heading back to Baja into our fond memory zone. By far, this leg experienced the most sea life and the most aggressive sailing days and the crew did great.

Sue, Pat, Lew, Agnes & I as we get ready to step off the boat and officially ending the Baja 2011 season… Booo Hooo… More next year.. Ya Hoo…

 

 

Greeting party at El Capitan and a photo with my honey… In love

Very nice to be home again with Frankie, Neely and our Cholla friends.. We have 6 days to hang and relax in Cholla before heading for Phoenix and then on to Missouri for the summer. 

 

 

 

Brian and Heather put their Hobie 18 in the water on a nice windy day. Brian and I got to relive our old race days double traipsing through the growler waves off Pelican Point and the blasters in the bay at high tide. I don’t remember it being so much work. One hour of sailing in that stuff and we’re done. Nice treat… Thanks.

 

 

 

 


Back to Baja 2011 memories… Here’s some video from the cruise.

Pilot Whales North of Santa Rosalia day 1 of Leg 8 2011 as we motor sail north
Hundreds of dolphins north of Bay of LA, Baja. Leg 8 2011

 

Jumping Dolphins on Leg 6 on the NW corner of Isla Monserrate near Loreto Baja

 

Here’s the cover of Elyse (left) & Mia’s (right) thank you cards they made for Frankie and I. They had a wonderful time.


While we sailed north on Leg 8 Frankie had a house full of people for the Peacemaker concert. Note Frankie and our friend Debbie in the background while Roger sings Mexico at Mr Fish Taco in Cholla. They had a wonderful weekend.

Entertainment and Mr. Fish Taco in Cholla Friday night before the concert‘

I’m finishing this update Sunday night after enjoying our house and friends here in Cholla Bay for the past 5 days. I think I’ve got my land legs back and ready to drive back to Phoenix tomorrow. Gato Loco is all buttoned up and will probably only see a few day sails trips until we all return late September.

Seriously the cruise is over… Until the next update..

BTW.. I will be sending one more update with links to all the 2011 cruise updates..

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Gonzaga & the Islands, Leg 8’s final days

June 14th, 2011

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Sunday PM.. Refugio to Gonzaga.

Today was the biggest sailing day of the season with 30+ at our back most of the day.  My arms a little tired from hand steering with 4’ seas and lots of surfing which takes lots of attention on the wheel. Winds and seas lighten up enough to fly the spinnaker briefly before prevailing westerly wind in the Gonzaga bay area took over. We Assumed we would anchor in Willard Bay just north to avoid the south swell but as we approached the entrance the west wind chop looked a little uncomfortable. It’s always nicer to anchor off the beach in front of Alfonsina’s so we backtracked and entered the north anchorage of Gonzaga in front of the beautiful beach and homes. Just as we hoped the west wind is keeping the south swell out and anchoring just off the beach avoids any west wind chop.. Nice.. Time for dinner at Alfonsina’s. As we arrive to the beach (just a bit wet from the slight surf) the restaurant sets up a nice table for us on the patio. Drinks and dinner arrive shortly. We all agree it’s a perfect end to an exhilarating day of sailing. BTW.. The Goto Loco pic above was taken Monday morning with calm conditions. The west winds blew most of the night.

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Two locals catching small rock bass in the surf while we have dinner.. One of the local fishing boats pulled up on the beach from Willard Bay behind Alfonsina’s.

Monday.. Pat and I walk the beach in search of internet to send out an update. Alfonsina’s now has internet but it is turned off this morning and no one seems to know how to fire it up. Walking the beach we note there are several whale sharks working the waters just off the beach. After some kind folks allowed us to send our update we hurried back to the boat to spend some time with the whale sharks.

There’s 6 of them in the bay and we pay a visit to each one as we motor slowing out of the bay. The biggest is probably 25’ and there’s a small young one.

Today we’re heading north to Isla San Louis so I can show the crew the island attractions.  Another call to Villa in Cholla to check the weather. South winds are still blowing there. We have light north winds which we expect to turn southerly based on Villa’s report.

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Check out the sea turtle we see just as we arrive at San Louis. The boobie right was determined to land on the boat.  We find San Louis’s volcanic pool fully flooded by the full moon high tide making it less interesting. Later in the day there will be a waterfall from the pool as it drains from the flood. We will miss it this trip as we’re heading on out to Islote Pomo where the sea caves are. 

Pomo is the island with lots of soft pumas stone which has eroded away to form the caves.

 

 

 

Gato Loco anchored at Pomo in the small north cove surrounded by high cliffs. Pat, Sue & I are off to visit the caves..

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Our dinghy engine isn’t running very well so there’s a bit of extra stress as we motor in the big cave on the SE side of the island. This cave has high ceiling so it’s not too spooky.. Now on the the tighter cave the to see it they get nervous.

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The tide is now low enough to enter. We shut the dinghy engine down and paddle our way in. 200’ in and it’s now too narrow for the dinghy. We would need less water to continue. No worries entering the cave for Pat & Sue unlike our friend Brian.

 

 

 

 

 

By the time we return from cave exploring, wind and seas have gone flat. I’ve always wanted to overnight here and it sounds much better than the 4 hour motor north to Puertecitos. We’re here for the night. It will be a good anchorage to launch our crossing to Penasco tomorrow.

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With the sheer wall to our west, we’re in the shade by 4 PM and able to enjoy dinner early since it will be an early to bed and a early 4AM departure tomorrow.

The evening starts quiet but by mid-night we begin to get a north wind and swell into the anchorage. This anchorage is great for south & west winds but open to the north.

Tuesday 3:50 AM Home to Puerto Penasco… I’m awake early not having a very restful night with the boat rolling in the north swell. Lew is already up as I slip on deck. Pat pops out 2 minutes later. No one is sleeping well so let’s head for Penasco. Pat reports we’re underway at 4:01..

 

The moon is just setting over Baja as we clear Pomo and there’s a very faint glow in the east sky. We have 90 miles in front of us and we hope to arrive before dark in Penasco. Rocky Point here we come..

Until the next Update..

I sure miss Frankie and Neely… See you soon

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