S/V Hello World's Travel Log

San Carlos

After our rough ride across the sea, we got within sight of San Carlos and realized Hello World had finally come full circle from when we bought her here a year and a half ago! We found a cozy spot to drop the hook in the anchorage of Bahia San Carlos and caught up on our sleep after the long ride over.

San Carlos is a little gringo outcropping of Guyamas, and also new home to our friend Nanette. We spent a week exploring town and a bit further since Nanette was willing to drive us all over the place. We finally made it to the famed Soggy Peso bar on Algadones Beach. We had attempted this trip last time we were here without success. It was a great spot and we'll definitely be back next time we're in town. Also in SC, we hiked up Nacapule Canyon - amazing rock formations and plant life up there.

Nacapule Canyon

Outside of town, we made a shopping trip to Obregon, about 2 hours south of SC. For a medium sized town, this place had the most monstrous commercial district I've ever seen in Mexico.

La Manga is a little fishing village about 5km out of SC, so after much planning, we made it there for an early dinner one night. Without electricity in this village, it's wise to show up a few hours before sunset. Dinner was filled with a variety of shrimp tacos and crap tostadas as we sat in a thatched rooftop deck overlooking the water and islands.

Dinner at La Manga - not too shabby!

Back in San Carlos, Nanette and I did a bunch of work on her nonprofit, Tia Marie's Coastal Cooperative, but the highlight might have been the storm that rolled in as we sat in her hot tub. The lightening was amazing to watch, but once the hail started, we were in pain and ran for cover. That's right. Hail. In Mexico. Just so you guys up north don't think you're having all the fun!

One of the boats that got washed up on shore during the gale that blew through right before we got there. The lesson here? Put chafe gear on your mooring pennant. None of these boats dragged anchor or pulled their mooring balls free. They all chafed through their mooring pennant.

Nanette's "casita". This development started out life as a trailer park and therefore, the rules state that each domicile has to be some form of trailer. So all of the casitas have some sort of RV appendage either bolted on to outside or the building was built around an entire trailer.

Soggy Peso - at last!

27°56.573'N 111°03.761'W

across the sea of cortez

Strange out of season southerlies were stsomping through the Sea of Cortez wreaking havoc and generally catching folks off guard. After beating up into the prevailing northerly winds for the past few weeks, we decided to latch onto the tail end of these southerlies and ride 'em due north and across the Sea of Cortez to San Carlos in a spirited and petroleum-free passage by sail.

Big mistake.

The forecast was for winds out of the southwest 15 to 20 knots all night turning to northwesterlies the next day. So we pulled anchored out of La Ramada cove north of San Juanico, made a heading of zero-zero-zero degrees true and caught a nice 20 knots out of the southwest.

This built up to a not-so-nice 25 to 30 knots out of the southwest which we sailed in front of until about 1AM. At almost exactly the half way point between our departure point and San Carlos, the wind shifted. Not in that gradual sort of "hey, did you notice the wind shifted?" kinda way. This was more of the "we used to be pointed at Arizona, now we're pointed at Belize" sort of shift. In a span of 8 minutes (our autopilot was steering to a wind angle, so I later checked our GPS track), the wind clocked from southwest, to due north.

Bye, downwind sail. Hello, upwind bash.

And with squirrelly winds comes confused seas. Slop. Chop. Green water over the bow. After a few more hours of this, the wind decided to back to the west giving us a better beam reach but with no improvement in the sea state.

Coming into San Carlos, we timed our arrival for early morning in case we had problems and needed more time. San Carlos is not a place we wanted to arrive in the dark. With the now very consistent 30 knot wind on our beam, Hello World took off like an angry horse. I kept reefing the sails down, hoping to slow our speed but every time, she'd stomp back up to hull speed. I'd reef some more. Hull speed. I finally arrived at a sail configuration of a napkin-sized mainsail and a placemat-sized jib and we slowed down to 4.5 knots.

Turned out, this still put us in too early. So, we hove to about 5 miles off the coast of San Carlos and I caught a catnap in the cockpit waiting for the sun to come up. The sun rose, we sailed into San Carlos, dropped the anchor and augured into bed.

Pulling into San Carlos after a long night's journey.

27°37'N 110°52'W

san juanico

We decided to take advantage of these strange southerlies and actually do some sailing. We weighed anchor, left Puerto Ballandra, blew the dust off our sails and hoisted them into a nice southerly breeze. We enjoyed our first downwind sailing since I don't remember when. We were headed for San Juanico for the night. San Juanico proper is a much better north wind anchorage and we still had some southerlies left to contend with so we chose to head about a mile north of San Juanico and anchor in La Ramada cove.

As we neared the anchorage, we furled the sails in and started the engine. Just then something large and hungry nailed one of the hand lines we had out. Christy worked the line for a while before hauling in a beautiful yellow tail.

The anchorage itself was great. Wave protection from every direction but the north. The south wind would gust through one of two arroyos in front of us but never for very long. When we're at anchor, wind doesn't really bother us. It's the waves that make life not very fun. So if an anchorage has some wind but no waves, we're happy.

After gutting and filleting the yellowtail, we had some out of this world sushi for dinner. The next day, we hiked a mile across the peninsula and over to San Juanico proper. To our surprise, we ran into a National Outdoor Leadship School (NOLS) group holding a cooking class on the beach. We chatted with them for a few hours. To their surprise, we're the first cruising boat they had run across in the 19 days they have been out sailing in the Sea of Cortez. They left Bahia Concepcion in four small Drascombe longboats, sailing during the day and camping at night (no tents!).

The next morning brought with it a torrential downpour. We thought of our NOLS friends on the beach and brought them over a plate of brownies and a weather report. We chatted for a bit and then ran back to the boat to clean it up. The weather forecast looked good to cross the Sea of Cortez over to see Nanette in San Carlos. 15 to 20 knots out of the south forecasted clocking around to the west at early in the morning. Easy sailing!

(You already know what's going to happen don't you?)

Our first yellowtail!


The NOLS crowd at San Juanico.

This guy gave us a magical rendition of Lonely Planet's On A Boat.

The four Drascombe longboats the NOLS group sailed down here.

Another local resident.

A "cruiser shrine". Not sure what's so great about us cruisers that we need a shrine.

26°22.930'N 111°25.870'W

puerto ballandra

We got wind of a very out of season southerly brewing up for the Sea of Cortez. To date, we have only ever seen wind coming from the north and west. We know where south is, we just have no idea how to perceive of wind coming from that direction. As Honeymoon Cove was wide open to the south, we chose to dash up to Isla Carmen and hunker down in Puerto Ballandra. This cove is protected from every direction but the west and southwest (you can see what's coming, can't you?). Puerto Ballandra was a nice little cove. On the northern shore is a fish camp which we, judging by the smell of fish guts, we anchored a little too close to.

We spent a couple days here hiding from the southerly. We got some boat projects done. Christy whipped us up a lee cloth so now we can sleep in the salon on a passage instead of having to clear out the quarterberth. I cleaned out the anchor locker (long time coming, that project) and cleaned some corrosion off the windlass wiring.

There's a great hike down a wash that crosses the island and ends up over at Bahia Salinas on the eastern side of the island. We followed it probably 95% of the way and turned around as the sun started to set.

The last night we were in Puerto Ballandra, the wind shifted around to the west. Of course. We had a bit of a bumpy ride that night but not nearly the rodeo ride the boats in the southern end of the anchorage got. We got up a couple times that night and saw their anchor lights flying around and were thankful we anchored too close to the fish guts.

On the hike across Isla Carmen.

The flood wash we hiked through across the island.

One of the locals.

Christy and her schnazzy new lee cloth.

26°01.247'N 111°09.837'W

honeymoon cove

At the first sign of the norther breaking, we packed up and got out of Escondido. We decided to head over to Honeymoon Cove on Isla Danzante again and give the stern anchoring a shot in less exciting winds.

We pulled into Honeymoon Cove and headed for a U-shaped bight in the northwest corner of the cove. The bight was only 100 feet wide which means if we only set one anchor, we'd swing into the rock walls of the cove with a large clanking noise and a larger insurance claim. And probably at 3am. So we pulled our bow into the bight and dropped our main bow anchor in 10 feet of water. We then backed up about 200 feet and set the anchor. Given our 20 to 1 scope, the anchor set pretty quickly. I then scrambled to the back and hucked our stern anchor overboard. Actually, we used our secondary anchor - a 44lb Spade anchor with 80 feet of chain and 150 feet of nylon three strand - as our stern anchor. We were getting a hint of winds from the south which was going to put some strain on the stern anchor. We then pulled in all but 80 feet of our bow anchor rode while letting out the stern rode. We set the stern anchor by attaching it to a sheet winch and cranking on it. All these efforts left us lying in a tight, quiet little cove that we never would have been able to get into otherwise.

Honeymoon Cove turned out to be one of the highlights of our journey so far. The water was crystal clear and positively lousy with fish. Dolphins intermittently visited us in the cove. We rowed into shore and went on a great hike over to another one of the beaches.

At one point, I spotted a whole mess of fish schooling right below our boat. I couldn't tell what kind of fish they were but gambled that they would be tasty. I hopped in the dinghy, loaded the spear gun, floated over them and blindly shot into the crowd. Not entirely a sporting shot but if the fish would just hop into my frying pan, I wouldn't have to cheat, would I?

Turns out my stellar marksmanship netted us not one but two fish on the spear. The bottom one wiggled off but the first one remained firmly impaled on the spear. We took a closer look at the fish and our fish book and decided we had just scored ourselves a Mexican Barracuda. What the book doesn't tell you is that they are very tasty over rice, butter, limes and garlic.

Our 72lb. Rocna anchor firmly set in 10 feet of water.

Lying stern-to and bow-to in the northern bight of Honeymoon Cove.

The welcoming committee on shore.

Hiking one of the beaches in Honeymoon Cove.

Overlooking the Sea of Cortez and Isla Carmen to the north.

Loading the spear gun.


25°48'34.99"N 111°15'35.18"W

we are heading north

I'll give you one guess what direction the prevailing winds come from in the Sea of Cortez in the wintertime...

Go ahead, I'll wait.

Of course we choose to head DIRECTLY into the prevailing winds. The wind vane at the top of our mast is our guiding star. It tells us where the wind is coming from and hence where we must go. We want to work our way north into the Sea as quickly as possible up towards Bahia Concepcion and make our way across the Sea to San Carlos to say hi to our friend Nanette who owns property in San Carlos. From there, we'll cross again and enjoy smooth downwind sailing back south. To that end, we take any break in the northerlies to jump out of the foxhole and race to the next anchorage with reasonable protection from the north. We've run from Isla San Francisco to San Evaristo to Los Gatos on to Puerto Escondido.

San Evaristo

Of all the anchorages we've run across to this point, Evaristo has had the best protection, open only to the east where we never really get much wind. We tucked up into the northern bight along with s/v Bint Al Khamseen. We ran into the village of San Evaristo the last day we were there seeking the tienda. Had there not been a hand-written sign tied to the barbed wire fence, I don't think we would have known which house was the "tienda". Turns out they are closed on Tuesdays. Or closed at 10:00 AM. Or are only open on prime number days. We never did figure it out.

Nestled nicely into the northern bight of the anchorage.

We totally went dumpster diving for some plastic milk crates to hold our cases of beer.

s/v Bint Al Khamseen taking their leave of San Evaristo.

Los Gatos

We caught word from the amateur weather forecasters (the only weather forecasts available for the Sea of Cortez) that the 12th was the day to make a run north as it should be light and variable winds all day long with no seas. The two parts to pay attention to here are a.) AMATEUR and b.) ONLY.

Needless to say, they were wrong. So very, very wrong. We made our way north to Los Gatos and by the time we got about half way there, the wind whipped up to entirely not-light and not-variable which in turn whipped the seas up to not-flat.

We happily pulled into the reef strewn Los Gatos anchorage and into the lee of the point. We dropped anchor once again right behind Bint Al Khamseen. We shared some beer and banana bread with Ken and Susan before heading back to Hello World and collapsing into bed.

Los Gatos is a beautiful anchorage with these amazing red rocks. No pictures at Los Gatos since it was just a layover for us this time as the forecasters promised us "light and variable" once again. Only this time they really, really mean it! We are nothing if not gullible.

Puerto Escondido

We got an actual light and variable day. We'll take a day of running the engine over a day of bashing into the steep chop the Sea of Cortez loves so much. We stopped into the famed Aqua Verde anchorage but decided to keep going north to Isla Danzante. Forecasts all agreed that a particularly angry El Norte was on its way the next day promising winds of 35 knots.

We pulled into Honeymoon Cove on Isla Danzante and tried to figure out how to make a stern anchor work in a northern bight that was too narrow to not be anchored bow and stern-to. We never came up with a satisfactory solution given the amount of wind we were going to be seeing the next three days. So we bid the dolphins playing in the cove adieu and made our way to Puerto Escondido.


Escondido is the safest, most protected harbor in the Sea of Cortez. But if you want to drop an anchor inside this mooring ball infested harbor, you have to cough up $15. US dollars. Per night. Or you can anchor just outside the inner harbor in what is called the "Waiting Room". It's an incredibly deep anchorage packed with boats too cheap to anchor inside. We like to call it "The Gong Show". I didn't want any part of that madness. So we paid our money and dropped our anchor to wait out the norther.

We took this chance to dinghy ashore and enjoy the charming armpit ambience of the ghost-town-esque Escondido, take mostly cold showers and walk around listening to the crickets in this not quite started resort development. I don't think I'd be quite as bitter about it if I didn't end up paying almost $50 for the privilege.

Our advice if you're thinking about going to Puerto Escondido? Don't.

The dolphins in Honeymoon Cove telling us how life is way better in Honeymoon Cove than over in Escondido. Why, dear dolphin, did we not listen to you??

25°18'8.3"N 110°56'42.94"W

catch up

We're a bit behind in the blogging department. We've been traversing a pretty remote section of the Baja coast and this is the first interwebs we've run across since leaving La Paz two weeks ago. I finally got some pictures uploaded and I'll get y'all caught up on our whereabouts the last few weeks.

12/23/2009 christmas in the islands

1/6/2010 la paz - otra vez

1/7/2010 isla san francisco

isla san francisco

You're probably getting tired of blog posts about us leaving La Paz. I know I'm getting tired of writing them. But this time we really did it. And to make sure we didn't get hurled back into La Paz due to some mechanical breakdown or beer shortage, we shot past the islands of Espiritu Santo and Partida and made our way north to Isla San Francisco.

The anchorage here is well protected against the constant north wind in the Sea of Cortez's winter weather portfolio. There's a nice crescent beach and one of the best hikes we've seen in Mexico to date.

We ran into lots of old friends here at Isla San Francisco and met a few new friends as well. Each night involved a large cocktail party in Hello World's cockpit or somebody else's. Kevin from s/v Pahto was here to our surprise and introduced us to Steve and Charlotte from s/v Willful Simplicity. We anchored next to s/v Narama, crewed by Stephen and Heidi. As I dinghied over to introduce myself, Stephen noted that we actually met before. We had a conversation across dinghies in the pouring rain in Neah Bay several months earlier while we both waited for a weather window to head south down the Pacific Coast. People sure look different when they're not dressed toenails to eyeballs in foul weather gear.

We also ran into Ken and Susan aboard s/v Bint Al Khamseen. There were marina-mates at Shilshole in Seattle but more importantly, we share spectacular taste in sailboats (they also own a Caliber 40). And speaking of impeccable taste in sailboats, who should sail into Isla San Francisco as Ken and I are spearfishing for some grouper at the south end of the anchorage? The Caliber 38, s/v Pamdemonium! Officially half the boats in the anchorage are now Calibers. The only two other Calibers we've ever laid eyes on on the west coast happen upon the same anchorage at the same time. None of us have ever seen three Calibers in one spot, let alone accidentally in the same spot on a small island in the Sea of Cortez.

We spent the first day in the anchorage hiking the south ridge trail. It winds up and into this really interesting pile of boulders at the peak. All these huge boulders jumbled on top of each leave big voids that make caves that make for some interesting climbing. Along with Kevin, we scrambled down into these caves and climbed around in the dirt and rock. With Kevin in the lead, I'd shout ahead: "Is there enough room for me?" He's a little shorter than I am. Kevin would reply: "Plenty of room!" Here's what I learned: don't trust spatial evaluations from a guy that lives on a 28 foot sailboat. Plenty of room my ass. After a few yogic contortions and some near joint dislocations, we popped out a hundred yards away from where we started our spelunk.

We were sad to leave Isla San Francisco, we've rarely had that many friends in one spot. But there is a break in the north wind (meaning instead of blowing 25 knots directly in our face, it's only blowing 12 knots directly in our face) so we took the chance to head farther north.

Susan, Ken, Christy and Kevin on the south ridge trail.

Christy climbing her way up to the top of the ridge.

All of us pondering the great view of the anchorage down below. (Photo by Ken)

Kevin pointing down into the first cave. (Photo by Susan)

Kevin climbing around in the caves.

Poking my head out of the cave.

Three (count 'em THREE) Calibers in one spot.

I'm totally that guy that takes a hundred pictures of his own boat. What can I say?

24°49.205'N 110°34.297'W

La Paz - otra vez

When we started out on this adventure, we had identified San Carlos as our most likely home base in the Sea of Cortez. We've got friends there and it seemed pretty central - a natural choice. But it turns out that San Carlos is really far north (keep in mind we go 6mph), and La Paz is the bungee that keeps beckoning us back. So, once again (this is the 3rd trip to La Paz in 2 months), we headed back to the black hole. The plan was to fix this bilge pump issue and then head north immediately. We fixed the bilge pump on relatively short order, but then we realized our fancy schmancy anchor light was out. And then the weather kicked up. Immediately. Or 9 days. They're practically the same.

Rather than fix the anchor light (which requires replacing the wire in the mast), we decided to cheat and buy some solar garden lights to mount around the deck. Where does one find solar garden lights in Mexico? Home Depot, of course. And since we were going to the great depot of homes, it made sense to stop at Walmart and Sams Club too - they're all in the same plaza. Ohhhh Mexico. How you remind us of home. It was a rather tricky cab ride back to the marina though - imagine 4 people and 3 boats worth of provisions and building supplies in a taxi. If I could have fit the camera, I would have taken a few pictures for you folks!

Filling up the rest of our week and a half, we spent lots of time with old and new friends. New Years Eve on Hello World is becoming a tradition and we were quite proud that we lasted until midnight with Bint al Khamseen, Pisces and Renova. There were repeated warnings by "the net" to be extremely cautious on NYE because La Pazians like to fire guns into the air throughout the day. This, indeed, was true - lots of random gunfire was heard, but the locals opted for fireworks over guns at midnight which made for a great show from the anchorage.

We like to complain about La Paz, but it is a pretty great place. You can buy delicious tacos for a buck, the hot dogs are wrapped with bacon and we're pretty sure the tortillas are laced with heroin. It's a wonder we keep coming back.

Palapa on the Magote

View of La Paz from the anchorage

24°09.639'N 110°19.978'W

blog statistics for 2009

One of our more faithful readers ('sup, Kenz?) asked for some insight on our blog readers. Happy to oblige.

Blog statistics for the year 2009

  • 15,347 visits
  • 24,034 page views
  • 4,838 unique visitors
  • 51% of our visitors use Internet Explorer
  • 32% of our visitors use Firefox
  • 14% of our visitors use Safari
  • 45% of our visitors come to our site directly (via bookmark or typing in the address)
  • 30% of our visitors show up from a search engine
  • 25% of our visitors click on a link from another site that brings them to our blog
  • ??? number of RSS readers. I don't have a way of tracking who's reading our blog from RSS feeds. I might at some point switch the feed over to Feedburner to so we can track that.

Visitor Locales

Some of the more interesting places our blog visitors hail from:
  • Estonia
  • Oman
  • Guernsey (I had never heard of it either, apparently it's a British possession off the coast of Normandy)
  • Croatia (would love to sail the coast of Croatia one day)
  • Iran (seriously? Iran?)
  • Northern Mariana Islands


Things get interesting here. Here are the more popular search keywords used to find our blog:

  • s/v hello world - at the top of the list is a bunch of different forms of s/v hello world. People see our boat name and google us, apparently.
  • westsail 28 - we did one post about sailing with our friend Ben's Westsail 28 including a video of the boat under sail. It's become the top listing on Google when you search westsail 28. How wierd is that?
  • sailing brooks peninsula - we are internet-renowned experts on sailing around Brooks Peninsula on the west coast of Vancouver Island. (don't tell anyone this but we never even raised our sails the day we went around Brooks. Shhhh....)
  • smuggler cove stern tie - This in the top 10 keywords searched on to reach our blog. My guess is because loads of people have no idea how to stern tie when they go to Smuggler's Cove. I say that because we had no idea how to stern tie when we got to Smuggler's Cove.

And here's some keywords we like to file under the heading whiskey tango foxtrot?:

  • turkish hookers - Whoever is searching for turkish hookers is going to be sorely disappointed when they arrive at this here blog post.
  • cabo san lucas can you live on 40000 a month - ummmm, yes?
  • complexity of missile projects - the Department of Homeland Security is totally reading my email right now.
  • craigslist halberg rassey - the idea that someone is looking for a Halberg Rassey on Craigslist kills me. It's a bit like trying to find a Bently in the Nickel Ads.
  • brought to you by the letter r and the number 7
  • cat named shithead aboard sailing yacht - someone is keenly interested in our cat Shithead. Along the same vein, these keywords also ended up at our blog: we are the world shithead, rebecca is a shithead, shithead etymology and shithead jerk dog.
  • hello how are do you want to be the best that you can be because if you want to i need you to come down to stinky buddy world - I don't even have the words to guess what's going on there.
  • hello world is made of energy - clearly, they've seen us sailing.
  • sexy fuca - As in, Straight of Juan de? I'm pretty sure this person was also highly disappointed in their result.
  • worlds smallest swimming suit - Uhhh.... Whaa... Wait. WHAT?

Feliz Año Nuevo!