Prism's Blog

We made it to La Paz.. or as the locals say " La Pa"

S/V Prism
Shannon here.. just typing away… January 12, 2015
Cabo- A blessing and a Curse
We ended up staying in Cabo much longer than we wanted to.. and it was not because of weather windows..more on this in a little.

Our first priority was to get some food and then find a way to fill our propane tank. We piled into the dink and slowly made our way into the marina, where we were a huge source of entertainment for all the “glass bottom” panga boats, charter yachts and fishing boats filled with locals and vacationers. I am pretty sure we will end up in quite a few scrapbooks of peoples vacations. Everyone would stop, point, smile or laugh as we would get swamped by the wakes left by boats coming and going. It wasn’t till Jen from “Summer” snapped a picture of us and showed us why everyone was so entertained, that we finally understood.
only a few inches of freeboard.
We made our way into the marina quite a few times, and it was the same scenario every time, and our bellies would hurt from all laughing we were doing ourselves. We had to go very slow as our outboard is finicky and ill tempered, as it would die randomly and some times every 10 seconds. Jon gets a good arm work out with the lawnmower style pull start. Anyways…. so our first time we hunted for the larger supermarkets as we need to restock up on can goods, veggies (if we could find any), fruits, and of corse booze. By the end of the day after a few stops in smaller stores we found a semi larger market that had pretty much everything we needed. We loaded up on just a few things as we knew we were going to be coming back in a few days, maybe after new years.
In the harbor in Cabo


Cabo Marina


making our way in with the larger and faster boats




downtown Cabo


fresh made ice cream!


this is a night club.


small market with all kinds of spices
The following day we made the trek and the adventure to get propane. There is only 1 place in Cabo that fills propane tanks, and it is over 5 miles out of downtown. That is what the marina staff and the locals who try to sell you everything as you walk by had told us. One man was very helpful, he told us we had 3 options, walking was not one of them. First we could get a taxi in downtown, but they would charge an arm and a leg to get there and back. 2nd was to walk a few blocks up and out of the main downtown area and get in a small white taxi and to agree on a price for a round trip before we got in. and 3rd was to walk a little down the main road, and get on the bus that  headed out to Cabo de San Jose and get off at the CaliGas station, fill and then wait for the next bus on the other side to get back into town.
Well we weighed our options, 1 is out, 2 sounds good and 3 sounds like a lot of work and who knows where we would end up as non of us speak much spanish. 2 it is… We agreed that for $240.00 pesos he would take all 3 of us out, wait for our tank to get filled and then drop us back  off at the marina. HOLY COW it was much farther than 5 miles. or it seemed like it. Jon and I were in the back seat and when the driver hit 60 MPH I thought he was doing over 100. IT TRUELY scared me, Jon had to tell me that we were only doing 55-60, plus he was a crazy driver and my seat belt didn’t work. After spending months of doing an average of 5-6 knots, 60 MPH seemed like light speed! It got my heart rate up. OK so he kept driving, and driving, at one point Jon and I were kinda laughing the back, thinking we were being taken to some side ditch to be sold or something right out of a horror story, but sure enough way out of the city, up in the hills we pulled into CaliGas. The tech tired to tell us that our propane tank was broken and he could not fill it anymore. ( after filling less than a liter). Jon had to show the guy the purge valve. The tech then spent the next few minutes looking for a flat head screwdriver. Found and then finished filling out tank. Ha so now we know, we always need to bring a flat head with us from now on, cause the propane techs in Baja clearly don’t know about it.
in the cab to get propane
Come to think about it, it makes sense now that we ran out of propane so quickly after we thought it was filled in Ensenada. The tech in Ensenada did not use the purge valve, at the time Jon thought  it was weird, but didn’t know how to question it.. once again the language barrier is a huge problem. We really should have put time in to taking classes or something before we left. The “we we learn as we go” method is not working as well as we had hopped… But anyways so we did not get a full fill in Ensenada, and thats why our 7 gallon propane tank ran out in just 2 months. ( our 1 gallon pony tanks we had before would last at least a month, so this tank has to last longer than 2) We will see how long this one last for us this time.


New Years Eve!
Sean decided to take us out to dinner, a “BIG” night out. We could have eaten anywhere we wanted, but we went to a little place on the side of a back alley that had been teasing our senses for the last 3 days. Jen and John from “Summer” joined us. We ate amazing tacos, burritos. and  Sean and I ordered the horchata, which Jon sipped off. Next we all decided to walk down the beach to see what the resorts had going on for the night. We stopped at a corner liquor store, stocked up on a few 8packs of pacifico and made our way to the beach. Because of the all the resorts there in really only 1 way on and off the beach.. a small access point right next to the break water of the marina. The resorts don’t allow non-guests to pass through. So we walked down the large curving beach only to find that all the resorts and their beach parties were blocked off to any outsiders. The further down we went, the less the crowed it became, with a few of the resorts offering tables for the night. The offer was: A table for all 5 of us for the premium of one bottle service… which means if we bought a bottle of what ever booze we wanted we could stay at the table the whole night and watch the fireworks from there. Tempting, but not what we were looking for. We started to make our way back, and found a break in the resorts up to a parking lot. We made a break for it, and found ourselves in a back ally and then a random liquor store. We all bought 40’s, went back out to the street, not really knowing where we were. We decided to have an adventure to find our way back to the marina. It didn’t take long till we found the main road and we were back in downtown within minutes. It was about 10:30pm at this point, all the clubs started to get rolling. Each place had it own kind of music, mostly was all music from the top 10 hip-hop list from the states. You can just tell that Cabo is just americans playing the “what happens in Mexico, stays in Mexico” card. We went back to “Summer” finished our beers and we all made our way out to PRISM to watch the fire works.
I don’t think we will ever both be smiling for a picture


out with Jen and John




the beach and all the resort parties


big beer for the little people, and small beer for the big people


BOOM! So cool
The fire works were amazing! They were right over our boat, some so close that it looked like they were going off just above our mast. We had embers all over the boat. We all acted quick to get the larger ones off or doused with water. Wouldn’t that just be a horrible story: “How did S/V PRISM catch fire and sink?… Cabo fire works, thats how” ESSSHHH! Scary to think about. Any ways John and Jen stayed till about 3 am when we all called it a night.
I’m sure it’s no surprise that we were not early risers the following morning. I was the last to rise getting out of bed around noon, it might have been later though… 🙂 a woman needs her beauty sleep.
Once again, the crowds of Cabo are amazing! There are so many people on one beach.



if this is winter break, I don’t want to find out what spring break is like
We spent the day, laying in the sun, and jumping in to cool off and shower the alcohol off that our bodies were sweating out. Cute, I know. The next morning I awoke with the worst kind of news from my body that you don’t ever want to get when traveling. Yep you guessed it…. Monazoomas Revenge… .. the “D” word… it makes me sick to my stomach even now 2 weeks later as I am writing this to even say the word… Even more odd to be writing and sharing with the world about my butt sickness…. HA never saw this day coming. Any ways, I won’t get in to the details, but it hit me first, the following day Sean and the day after that Jon. None of us could move, or eat for 3 days. It was horrible. On the 4th day we could see the light at the end of the tunnel. Food started to look appetizing again, and the visits to the bathroom were getting less frequent and more solid.  🙂
Just when we thought we were in the clear, it relapses for Jon and I get hit with a nasty head cold. Sean was all good though. Lucky GUY!
BAH! So now its almost a week after new years, a week longer than we wanted to stay and we are still stuck in CABO. Not to mention a south swell started and we were getting rocked ear to ear. There were a lot of worlds starting with F and S that are referred to french words coming out of all the mouths on PRISM about the rocking. Life got a little better once we set the stern anchor and kept out bow into the swell.  Neither Jon or I wanted to set sail till one of us was feeling at least 80-90% back to normal.
A few days later Jen and John picked us up in there dingy and we motored out to the arch and lovers beach. We have to fit some of the iconic tourist things into our Cabo experience. We walked the beach and went swimming in the pacific side of the beach. Then it was time to go snorkeling, as usual Sean and I were the last ones out, and we really only got out, cause Jen, John and Jon were out on the beach shivering, we could tell they wanted to get back to the boats and get warm. The water was so full of life, and it was cool to be so close to Neptunes finger, and the Arch, such awesome rock formations.
thats one full dingy!


the finger!


The Arch


the drop off place for lovers beach


Lovers beach


Lovers beach


Sean doing his thing


Jen and John


look at all the fish!


always the last ones out


such a pretty day!
We made one more town run, we made our way to City Club, which we found was like a raided costco. For 2 dollars we could by a single day pass. We stocked up on can food, beans, Rum ( as Jen and John had found the mother load of ginger root and brought a huge bag full back for us, so we could make ginger beer again), fruit, avocados, tomatoes and a little of the veggies they had to offer. We were glad that they took VISA as the exchange rate right now is almost 16 and well we get to make points off the credit cards 🙂 We hauled our load back to the boat, we all felt like mules as our bags were so heavy. Thank goodness the marina was not as busy has it had been during winter break. The crowds were smaller and the traffic much lighter. We made it back to the boat with out getting swamped once, a rare occurrence.


So many options


Jon and I, while we had the use of internet bought tickets home to visit Jon’s mom and family for a late christmas. Which now means for the first time we have to be somewhere by a certain date, have a marina slip planned out and so on and so on. Darn Schedules…. But it is going to be great to see family.
We had Jen and John over one last time, we said our good byes for now as they were heading to the mainland and we were heading north.
the only boat casualty, the stitching came undone on the stack pack at the lazy jack attachment
There have been quite a few people who called us crazy for wanting to go north this late in the season, as we would be battling the northerlies, which can be ruthless, and blow for weeks at a time around 30 knots…. :/ Uhhh maybe we are crazy… Jon for  days kept saying/ asking…. “Maybe we should head over to mainland”…. I would answer… NO! we are sticking to the plan. They way I see it, why in the world would we sail south, just to sail north again, and then to sail to the same southern part again the following season… it seems like that is a lot of back tracking in my opinion. So we kept with the plan, north here we come, to spend our time in La Paz bay till spring ish and ride the southerlies up, and out of the hurricane dangers.
planing our route
We readied the boat for our next passage, taking care to remember that we were going to be beating into chop and head winds for the next 155 nautical miles. Good thing that the 155 is split into 45nm sections. Our next stop is Los Frailes. This is a stop I had been looking forward to the most out of Baja, as it is right next to the Plumo Reef, which is 1 of only 3( or maybe 4) hard coral reefs in all of North America, and the only 1 in the Gulf of California ( Sea of Cortez). I was planning on diving and snorkeling my brains out on the reef!
We left Cabo on Thurs, Jan 8th at 4:30 am. We left with glassy conditions. Motored for the first 30 miles in a dead calm. Then 10 miles from the anchorage we were hit with the nasty chop that is talked about in the Sea of Cortez. This nasty 4 foot square chop has over 600 miles to build, and with the 15-20knts of wind pushing it along, well by the time it hits the east cape… its NASTY… Have I mentioned  that its a nasty chop? Well anyways, the last 10 miles we worked hard for, and we were really shocked by PRISM’s performance for beating into these conditions. We kept up at 4.5- 5knt average, as we short tacked our way up. Normally big, heavy, full keel boats don’t do well in theses kinds of conditions, but the ride was dry and very comfortable for everyone on board. It took us 11 hours to go 53 miles. We pulled into the crowded anchorage and were greeted by cursers we had met in Santa Maria. They ask for us to come over as soon as we were settled.
There is the wind!


hold on!




beating though the famous sea of cortez chop


our boat is so salty
We  set the hook, took in our surroundings, with a very busy beach filled with greengo campers and a small fishing village. We launched the dingy and Jon and I made our way over to our friends.  I feel horrible because I can not remember their names, or the name of their boat… oops, and to make it worse.. they remembered our names…  AWKWARD But anyways, they are very nice and they next time we see them I am going to ask their names and WRITE IT DOWN. They gave us the low down to the anchorage, and also told us that they have been stuck there for the last 2 weeks due to strong northerlies. It had been blowing a consistent 25-30knots even in the anchorage, day and night. And that this was the first day that it was kinda calmer. There was one boat in there (a Norsea 27’) who had been stuck there for over 4 weeks, waiting for the right weather window to make a break for it. A few boats had tried to make their way up in the strong winds and “that nasty” chop, only to turn back after nearly 10 hours and making no head way. The next anchorage is 45 miles up at Ensenada De Los Muertos, then there is the next passage after that which you have to time just right to make it though the Cerralvo Channel, which can have very strong tidal currents.
Our friends said that there was a weather window and that the northerlies would be back with a force on Monday. That gives everyone a 3 day window to get north. AH! Jon and I thanked them, said bye and went back to the boat. We were planning on staying in the anchorage for at least a week to get all the diving in. Oh and thats another thing, our friends said that because of the force of the winds and the chop, the reef was not “open”/ safe to dive. DAMN! So now we were stuck to think, well do stay and dive the reef during the calm, and pray that we don’t get stuck here for weeks waiting for the winds to die again or do we make a break for it like the other boats and maybe plan a weekend trip back out here ( going by land) and camp on the beach and dive then… Well now that we had a schedule, a place we had to be by on a certain date… we can’t afford to wait that long for the “right” kind of weather.
night passage though the channel
The following day we made the decision to make a break for it. It was blowing about 10 knots, and no chop. We left the anchorage around 1pm, and planned on bypassing Muertos. That would get us to the Cerralvo Channel around 2 am, prefect with the tides. We started out, and of corse the wind is coming from the exact location we need to be going, so we short tacked making a very small distance between us and the anchorage, and by sunset the wind had died completely. We fired up the engine and B lined it. Jon took the first watch, I took the 2nd and navigated though the channel, then Sean took the last. Jon was back up and then me around 9:30 am as we reached the Canal De San Lorenzo, which is the mouth/ opening into La Paz Bay.  The passage was dead calm, zero wind. It was beautiful and very warm.
attempt of a “sexy” pose— fail


seans “mock sexy” pose— came out way better than mine
OH MY we are here, LA PAZ BAY! BAH! Calm water, clear skies, whales, dolphins, sea turtles! SO MUCH LIFE. I feel like a little kid in a candy store! I get so pumped when there is a lot of sea life around! Now all I need is to see some sharkies! I miss the sharks!


coming into Balandra
  I don’t want to talk about our lack of luck with the fishing in the Sea of Cortez so far, so will leave it at that.. NO LUCK.
We went through the channel and made our way down to Puerto Balandra, the bay with the famous “mushroom rock” AKA El Hongo. We dropped the hook right next to the famous rock, and admired the amazing colors of the water. The bay is filled with shoals and about 7 different beaches. With the shoals almost connecting them all, you can almost walk across the bay to the other beaches. You look out and see people “walking on water”! Its a trip.
El Hongo with PRISM in the back
It wasn’t long after we got settled that Jess ( a very good friend from Berkeley, and fellow sailor), who is doing research on climate change and the impact to coastal cities and communities, starting here in La Paz, got on her SUP and made her way out to the boat. How great it is to see a familiar face! Her boat and other halves ( Josh and her dog Ulie) are sailing down from Berkeley as I write this blog. It is going to be so fun to be sailing with friends in this amazingly beautiful place!
We have been here for 3 days and are loving every minute of it. Jess came out again yesterday, along with her friends dog “kekito” AKA “cupcake” who is new to the boating world, and keeps things very entertaining… in a good way. We joked that he needed his good friend Ulie here to show him how to manage the “boat life”




the shoal is never ending


smash ball







The water is a bit cooler than cabo, we are all getting cold after about 15 min in the water. It was sad to watch the water temp meter go from 84 degrees, to 80, 79, then 78. I know, 78.. what are we complaining about…but our meter runs high, so 78 is more like 73ish…. we are guessing.
A cruising couple, Daniel and Michelle on there rafiki 37’ “Kaia” we had met back in Catalina came into the bay and we were excited to see them! Jon rowed over and invited them over for drinks. Well drinks turned into dinner and dinner turned into story swapping. They are a great couple, heading back to the south pacific come spring, so we have the rest of the winter to run into them, and hopefully we will someday see them in the warm south pacific!
S/v Kaia
Not sure how long we will hang in this bay, the next one down in less than 5 miles away, and La Paz is only 13 miles away. We are just going to fart around from anchorage to anchorage. My Aunt and Uncle, Elly and Kelly have some property in Todos Santos and are planning a trip down here at the end of the month, we are planning on either going out there to camp on the beach with them, and hopefully they get to come out and go sailing. It would be so awesome to sail out to Isla Espiritu Santo with them! We will see what happens!
Well thats all for now. CHEERS!


January 17, 2015 8:45am——
For the last few days Jon and I … yes I said AND I, have been getting up around 7:30am, having coffee and listening to the La Paz cruisers net which starts at 8am. I really don’t know how I am dragging myself to get out of bed, it is cold, and raining here in La Paz and it has been like this for almost 3 days now. But the net is every entertaining. Oh and it’s not like Jon and I are snuggled up on the settee sipping our cup of joe is the warm cabin of PRISM… NO our VHF is still not working, and we have not really made an effort to try to fix it… I mean the top of the mast is so up there, and there are such better things to be doing than working on the boat…. Anyways.. we listen to the net with our small handheld which gets most of the transmissions, but every once in a while there is that one boat who is just a little to far away and it comes in as “ kasdjhfjasdkyfakdmhflksjyFKSHkjsy;sjksfsd”  and well we don’t speak that language so we miss just a few things.
Any ways, we just finished listening, we are back inside and out of the rain that just started, Jon is doing the dishes from yesterday, Sean is probable thinking about getting out of bed cause we are making so much noise, and I am writing blog.
I was called out by a fellow HC33 owner that I was slacking on the blog…. SORRY ALEX! I will work harder to not “slack” 😉
Ok so we are in La Paz now, have been here for a few days. We left Balandra with the idea of going over to the next anchorage  called Caleta Lobos. We set off to concur the next 2 miles, sails up, here we go….. Oh there is no wind, we kinda need that key element to get us moving. Plan B… VROOM VROOM.. muahhhahaha ITS ALIVE!.. Ok we will just motor out of the bay, we can see a wind line up ahead! I swear the wind line kept moving further and further away as we tried chasing after it. At this point we are now at the entrance to the next anchorage, and Jon says… “ well the motor is already running, should we just head into the harbor to get more food?”  We were running very low on food, like can food only, and we are still have ZERO luck with the fishing. I mean who ever said this sea had great fishing.. well lets just say id like to have a few words with him. Well we all agreed to go the extra 10 miles down into La Paz. Luckily the a light 5 knot breeze came alone and we got to sail most of the way down.
The channel that you have to go through to get into the harbor, I swear it is NEVER ending. I felt like a 5 year old again, “ are we there yet? are we there yet?”  As soon as we got to the city front, OH MY look at all the boats. There must over 500 million boats anchored. OK, OK, maybe not 500 million, maybe only like 40-50ish but still finding a spot to drop the hook with enough swing room was a bit tough. We did however find our friend Reid, on “Luna”, who we met first back in the Bay area, then again down in SD, we left a week before him and he B lined it down the Baja coast and beat us here. We anchored right next to him and waisted little time before we were all having drinks in PRISMs cockpit.
We made dinner, we were fat and happy, ready for a movie or bed, but Jon gets a wild hair up his… well anyways he no longer likes where we anchored, and wants to move, now. OK… so its dark, and only half of the boats in this anchorage have lights, here goes nothing. Luckily the city lights are bright and we had some moon left, so we moved so a larger spot, set the hook hard and went to bed. Good thing we did move, cause in the middle of the night, the wind died and all the boats went catty wampus. If we had stayed where we were, we would have most likely went stern to stern with Reid and had our selves a little bumper car action… Not recommended with 2 boats thats weigh over 25,000lbs each.
Any ways, the next morning Jon and I were listening to the net for the first time and we heard a boat name that we had met in Neah Bay almost 2 years ago. Could it be?!? We hailed them after the net and sure enough it was Al and Lindy from “Enchante”! It was good to hear their voices, and we made plans to meet up later.
Sean, Jon and I headed to shore to check out what La Paz has to offer, and to get our settings and the lay out of where everything is. We walked from Marina de La Paz down the malecon to La Marina del Palmar, where Al and Lindy were staying till their tranny was fixed. It was great to catch up with them, and they gave us the low down of La Paz. Al walked the malecon back with us, we stopped to snack on mexi corn, which is corn on the cob, rubbed with mayo, sprinkled with parmesan cheese and drizzled with chili sauce! If you have never had it.. it will change our life! YUM! Al also showed us where one of the local markets was, I bought a few fresh veggies and fruits, knowing we would most likely be back the following day to really stock up. We stopped and grabbed lunch right next to the market. It was very tasty. After that we went our separate ways as we wanted to get back to PRISM and move her to a better spot. We made plans to meet up for dinner at a pizza place that has 2 for 1 pizzas on wed night. SAY WHAT! 2 for 1 PIZZAS! I think I died and went to heaven, and even better, our friend Jess, like 3 seconds after we made these plans asked if we wanted to go out for pizzas that night.
Once we got back to Prism the wind had picked up a little, so once again our dinghy ride was a fun, wet entertaining one as we battled the chop in the harbor back to the boat. We pulled anchorage and moved the boat to a spot just in front the malecon with a view of downtown. This way we could land the dingy on the beach for free and we would be closer to where we were going to have dinner that night, plus there was a lot more swinging room.
The 2 for 1 pizza place was AMAZING! yes I am back on the pizza, because I LOVE pizza, I could eat it everyday, EVERYDAY! We ate and chatted till it was way past our bed times.  I know where I will be eating every freaking wed from now on.
The following day I was up for doing nothing, I felt like I had zero energy, and my stomach was still not 100%. So Sean and Jon made the trek up to the large market and stocked up with the list I made for them. They brought back half the store I think. :). The weather is gloomy, it really screams “ STAY INSIDE AND READ A BOOK WHILE DRINKING WARM THINGS” So thats what we did yesterday. I baked cookies and fresh bread while we all stayed warm and watched movies. Real productive.
Oh but Jon did the other day, change the engine oil and transmission fluid. He’s so good about keeping the boat running. Here I am, waiting to eat pizza and read a book, and he is checking to see what needs to be fixed, buffed, polished, varnished.. I mean its a boat,  there is ALWAYS something to do! I need some motivation to want to work on the boat… :/  Any one out there have tips to help you or someone else get pumped to do BOAT PROJECTS! YEAH! WHOOP WHOOP…. that was me trying to get pumped.. sounded good in my head.
Not sure what the plan is for today, I know Jon is really wanting to get back out to the islands, but sailing in the rain and gloom is no fun for anyone. So I think we will stay here tell the sun comes out again. We might head into town and look around, Jen and John of “Summer” told us of an amazing bakery we HAD to go to, so we might hunt that down and chow down on the treats it has to offer. Or we might just stay warm and read books all day.


Cheers!- Shannon out
Monday Jan 19, 2015
So yes we did nothing but stay warm and watch movies all day, but we did go over to “Kaia” to have drinks. We ended up on there boat way past midnight, just talking and drinking. The following day (yesterday) we made our way down the malecon back over to Al and Lindys boat to have a jam session. Its amazing how may songs you know how to play and sing, but when the time comes to do it with other people.. BLANK! We sang, snacked and drank. We all made our way back into downtown, stopping to have dinner, which Sean was so kind to pick up the tab. We said our good nights and we headed back to PRISM.
This morning we woke very early so we could meet Jess before she headed to school at 8:30. She is kind enough to let us stay at her place to update the blog and do laundry while she’s learning spanish. Maybe we should take classes too…?
So we are here, not sure what we have planned for the rest of the day. We are thinking we might head out to the island tomorrow for a few days, but then again we might have family coming down in the next we days. SO MANY OPTIONS! BAH
Oh and the SUN is back! it is going to be 83 degrees today! whoop whoop! AND the northerlies stopped howling!

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