Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Bahia Santa Maria

We arrived at Bahia Santa Maria at 9am Monday morning and anchored just about in the middle of the fleet in the NE corner of the bay. The setting is gorgeous. The cliffs to the north were much greener than we had remembered from before – perhaps from all the rain that came with hurricane Jimena which had passed almost right through here a few months ago. In the northeast corner there is an estuary that comes into the bay, with a sandbar that extends towards the south. And along the southern end there is a narrow strip of land with sand dunes that separate Bahia Santa Maria (BSM) from the larger Magdalena Bay.

We put the dinghy together and pulled the kayak down, and spent some time cruising around the anchorage and stopping by other boats. We saved the shore landing for the next day when there would be a party hosted by the local fishermen. We spent the evening in the cockpit with cocktails and then dinner, and then watched the moon rise:

Tuesday morning, the wind was calm, so we cranked Cathy up the mast to have a look at the wind instrument connections. A little water to clean, lube to spray, and making sure connection was tight – still no luck – but here’s a picture from the top: We opened the junction box at the base of the mast (5-wire connection) and measured voltage and amperage across various terminals – but that didn’t shed anything obvious. Will probably have to wait until La Paz to deal with it.

Cathy headed off in a dinghy with Michael and Laurie from Laura to go up the estuary. Dick and Doug following shortly in our Porta-Bote. Beach landings in a dinghy can be rather tricky if there is any breaking surf at all – and leaving beaches even trickier since there is less time between waves. But heading up the estuary, we had small breaking waves at the mouth, where there was a sandbar that got very shallow (prop hit bottom a couple times), and a very strong flow coming out of the estuary causing some turbulence in the breaking surf. .. But we all made it in ok.

The estuary is lined with mangroves. The main fishing camp is on a bluff right where the estuary comes into the bay. The fishermen here would be hosting a party for us that afternoon. There was a smaller fishing camp with just a tent on the right as we entered the estuary. And then further up on the left there were two more fishing camps. Their buildings were fairly makeshift – and it looked like most of the buildings had lost their roofs – presumably from the hurricane this past summer. At the first, it was interesting that one of their buildings had a cross on the peak of the roof – presumably their little chapel. The point of interest of the second was that they had a TV satellite dish!

On the way back we beached the dinghy on the back side of the sandbar. The tide was going out fast. We walked along the sandbar, picking up various shells - including silver dollars and abalone. Cathy played with a couple crabs – catching them and letting them go.

It was then time for the party, so we motored across the estuary and beached the dinghy just inside the mouth. The local fishermen bring in their wives to help with the food they serve. And they had cold beer and margaritas. And a live rock band with generator to power their amps etc. Cathy was observant enough to get us a place near the front of the food line - a plate of shrimp, rice, beans, cabbage, and tortillas. It’s pretty impressive for these people to put on this party and meal and beer for hundreds of people! After dinner, Michael and Doug played beach volleyball while Laurie and Cathy cheered them on.

We left about 4pm (low tide!) to go back to the boat. To get out of the estuary, we had to walk the boat through shin deep water across the sand bar. Since we had an early (6am) departure the next morning, we worked on getting the boat ready – getting the kayak back up on deck and lashed, and pulling the Porta-Bote up on the davits and lashing it in place.

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