Baja Sur California, March - April 2011
The sun setting on the first night of our 232 nm trip across the Sea of Cortez to Baja Sur.  Very windy the second night, a local phenomenon called "Corumels", which are winds unique to the La Paz area.  The cool marine air off the Pacific travels over the hot dessert and causes these winds, which blow in the evening.  We experienced 20-25 knots with some gusts up to 50.   Above, after a sleepless night, we were greeted by a beautiful sunrise over the mountains of Baja.
The first stop was Caleta Partida, on Isla Partida.  As we were dropping the anchor there was a school of 50 juvenile flying manta rays.  The scenery is magnificent, with the large cardon cacti, the oldest cacti in the world.  They are similar to the saguaros that grow in Tucson and the Sonoran Dessert.  Peter and Jim enjoy stretching their legs on the white sand beach.  The beach was full of thousands of tiny crabs and from a distance it appeared that the ground was moving.
The second day we chose to hike up the dry river bed, the informative sign mentioned there was a trail, but it also said very difficult.  The trail was in fact the river bed.  We scrambled up the verticle boulders and dry waterfalls .  Drake was a champ almost running up and down.  Peter and Phoebe, on the other hand, whined and complained the whole time , kidding.. Thankfully we were prepared with enough water and snacks to keep us going. Everyone did fantastic and we were exhausted after, not to mention, very sore the next day.  The rock formations, scenery and the views at the top scenery were worth the effort.
A few other yachts were anchored in the bay.  We enjoy getting to know our neighbors, so we dinghied over to everyone and invited them ashore for a beach BBQ and sundowners. 
One of the pleasures of cruising is meeting new people and learning where they are from and hearing their stories. The Australians introduced us to a great BBQ contraption called the Jaffle Iron. It is made out of cast iron and makes delicious toasted sandwiches.  Our favorite is baked beans and cheese.  You butter the outside of the bread, place one piece inside, then add the fillings, and put totop piece of bread on.  Bring the handles together to close it, then place on hot coals.  Flip after a few minutes then enjoy.  Always a huge succes, and very little clean up.
The following day the corumels had picked up and the anchorage was uncomforable, so we decided to explore the East side of Islas del Espiritu Santo and La Partida. The description in the guide says this side has, "The finest coastal scenery in Baja California."  I think we would all agree with that statement.  The winds blew hard but we were protected by the island.  The sun was warm and we snorkled and explored parts of the island that are seldomly seen. Unfortunately there are no good overnight anchorages with good holding. The bottom consists of large boulders, not sand.  
Above is a small fishing village off the anchorage at Caleta Partida, unfortunately no one was around, so no fresh fish for dinner.  Phoebe and Drake pull Grey Sky, our dinghy through the shallow waters to shore.  There is a cut through to the other side of the island that you can navigate with the dinghy.  The waters were clear and great for snorkeling.  Schools, actually the proper word is "A Smack", of jelly fish would glide pasted the boat, we would stay out of the water and wait for them to pass.
Both of us graduated from the University of Arizona, in Tucson, and love the dessert.  Being in the dessert and on the ocean at the same time is heaven, one of our favorite places around the world. Above Jim, Drake, Peter and Phoebe on one of our dinghy excursions. 
Having explored Caleta Partida, we decided to pull up anchor and check out a different anchorage around the corner..  The easy 5 mile excusion took us to El Cardonal, a long cove with two beaches at the head of it.  One of the beaches is backed by mangroves, a salt water lagoon and a level valley.  Fortunately, it was an easy, level, walk to the island's eastern shore, not a death march up a dry river bed.  Above Peter, Phoebe and Drake on the other side of the island, and above the salt water lagoon. 
The photograph above was taken from Blue Sky while the photo below shows where we anchored for lunch and a swim.  We put the dingy in the water and explored some of the nearby rock formations that enabled us to take the dingy in-between some spectacular sights.
Peter, Emma & the children even went for a swim through some of the passes.  Spotting schools of various types of fish in the clear water.
Drake is sporting his new Blue Sky Soda Shirt. The clarity and color of the water in contrast to the desert rock was incredible.
Peter Rathje shows off the BBQ that was built inside the engine compartment of an old truck.  The ribs & steaks were about the best we have had since Brazil!
Wyland has painted the Redondo Beach Power Station "Whale Wall" so we felt right at home when we turned a corner in downtown La Paz to see that Wyland had worked his magic down here too. Redondo beach is also the sister city to La Paz.
During the cruisers week, other events included the Bocce Ball competition.  Drake was not shy and went up to the adults to see if he could "play" with them.  Of course they said yes and he could hold his own.  It is the one sport that we have been exposed to around the world.  Always fun on a sandy beach.
Above:  Phoebe on the La Paz malacon, lined with beautiful statues, enjoying another fabulous sunset.  Below:  Phoebe and friend compete in the Club Cruceros dingy race, held doing their cruisers week.
It is never easy to say farewell to our family and friends when their free time has come to an end and they need to return to "regular" life.  Peter has been with us from the begining.  He helped get Blue Sky to Ensenada, Mexico for the first re-fit in 2004.  Then joined us for the maiden voyage from Redondo Beach to Puerto Vallarta in 2005.  In 2006,  Peter joined us to cross from the North Pacific across the equator to the South Pacific and French Polynesia.   The next time to see Peterdog we will be heading in to our Home Port of Redondo Beach.  He has promised a few surprises once we make it home.  We look forward to the prospect of "re-entry" back in our hometown. 
The view we enjoyed drinking our morning coffee.
The weatherman was predicting very strong corumels for the next few days.  As it is no fun being at anchor when strong winds blow, we choose to head to La Paz and the safetly of a Marina. 
There are three Marinas to choose from, and we decided on Marina Palmira, just on the outskirts of town, with a free shuttle and a swimming pool.  The facilities were first class with laundry and showers, and concrete docks.  It was a lovely walk along the Malacon to get to great restaurants.

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