Saturday, April 19, 2008


La Paz

Here's one of the latest afghan squares that I've knit for the Sacramento Knitting Guild's charity program (#10). This is a very easy stitch pattern, but I had a heck of a time writing up the instructions for the last few rows. That's because the stitch count changes on every other row! So, depending on what row you end with, to make a 7" square, you have to decrease back to the original cast on number of stitches. Hard, but done.

Then I realized that I needed more yarn in order to complete the 20 different 7" squares. That's hard to find in Mexico. I purchased the original yarns in Barra de Navidad - way south, and haven't seen it anywhere else. As luck would have it - I found some here in La Paz! Whoo hooo! I've never been so glad to buy some crappy acrylic yarn! I had to get some different colors, but no biggie.

As I've said before, there are slim pickins for yarn on the coast of Mexico here - just acrylic and some crochet cotton. But wait...there's more?

As we were riding our dinghy thru Marina La Paz to the dinghy dock to go ashore, I caught a glimpse of a woman sitting in her boat's cockpit in a very familiar pose...her elbows were away from her sides and she was looking down. Could that be? Was she knitting? YES! I saw her throw the yarn and made Jonesy change course to go over to her boat. I found another sailing knitter - Gail from the sailing vessel Volare.

What was she knitting? Market Bags made from the plastic bags that the markets stuff our groceries into. Yep, add plastic grocery bags to the short list of "fibers" us knitters have to work with down here. Gail showed us a couple of her completed Market Bags - they are great!! So soft and flexible - what a wonderful earth-friendly project. She kindly showed me how to cut the bags and join the rings to form the "yarn". We cruisers use market bags to haul our purchases from the stores to our dinghys to our boats out at anchor, so when I make some of these, they'll be put to good use.

Speaking of the boat at's a photo taken from our boat looking towards the city of La Paz. We always have ocean-front views from the Niki Wiki. Next, there's a photo taken from the beach front road in La Paz looking back at our boat at anchor in the harbor. What does this cost? Nothing, nada, zilch, free!!! Hahahaha, I laugh at the folks spending big bucks in the marinas. Anchoring out is the best!

So, we've been walking around the city of La Paz here, exploring and eating at all the great little restaurants! I'm loving somebody else doing the cooking and dishes. This city is so much cleaner than everywhere else we've been - even Puerto Vallarta.

It is very much like Southern California - down in Riverside or San Bernardino Counties. There are a lot of cars, good sidewalks, small stucco houses,and "gringo" food items available in the larger markets. The air is very dry - I had to dig out some lip balm and facial moisturizers that I haven't used since we were in San Diego.

We can understand why some cruisers come down here from the states and get stuck here. La Paz is a great place to hang out and the islands are just a day sail away.

So, when is a palm tree not a palm tree? When it is a cell tower of course! The thing that gives it away that this is a fake palm is that it is just too tall. But other than that, I think they've done a fine job of disguising an otherwise unsightly tower. We had some of these back in the Sacramento area that were made to look like pine trees.

Photo of a church in downtown La Paz. See the sidewalks and the clean street?

Then, here's a photo of several sea cucumbers climbing on the rocks right by the dinghy docks! The picture is a little blurred because these guys were under about a foot of water. The sea life is just everywhere! Mexico has a real national treasure in their coastal areas and they are making efforts to protect it.

We purchased our annual Conservation Passes for $26 US per person which allows us to enter all of Mexico's national parks, monuments, and preserves. These passes also allow us to anchor at any of the islands, and go ashore. I wish all cruisers contributed to the preservation of Mexico's natural environment.

And finally, more knitting...This is square #11 and it is just a simple knit & purl design. Gansey sweaters often have these type of patterns and I adapted an old design for this 7" square.

We are planning to leave La Paz on Monday morning providing the the winds calm down. So no more internet after that for a few weeks. We'll be cruising the Sea of Cortez north up to Agua Verde and perhaps beyond...

Monday, April 14, 2008


Caleta Partida in the Sea of Cortez

After a gloriously uneventful 2-day crossing of the Sea of Cortez from Mazatlan, we dropped the hook in the little bay of Los Muertos on the Baja California peninsula. The next morning we again hoisted the anchor and motorsailed the short day trip up the sea to Isla Partida and Isla Espiritu Santo - two islands with beautiful coves just north of La Paz.

We anchored in Caleta Partida and
then we...well...just hung out, and played, oh, yeah and I knit. Yep, we found a sheltered spot and parked the Niki Wiki for 2 weeks. The air temperatures were perfect although the water was a little too cool for swimming (70 degrees) except in the shallows where it was close to bathwater warm. The "Toes" photos show the shallows in our cove - Caleta Partida with white coral sand, and also in the neighboring cove of Cardinal which had this wierd lettuce leaf like sea weed in it.

Twice, we got hit with "Northers" which are strong winds, but no biggie. We were tucked away in our safe little cove and well anchored.

Although I did spend quite a bit of quality hammock time, watching the sunset and gazing at the stars it wasn't ALL so lazy. I did have to cook all the meals. No restaurants here. Nothing except some temporary shelters for the fishermen. And speaking of fishermen, they brought over delicious fish - neatly filleted - that we got by trading some batteries, water, beer, and a few token gifts. We ate Cabrilla and Sierra fresh from the sea which I cooked in many different ways. Mmmmmm.

For exercise and fun, we took the dinghy across the long shallow shoals to explore the island. First we used the little motor, then when it got too shallow, we rowed the dinghy, then we had to get out and walk the boat a long ways up to the shore.

It is rather rough desert terrain out on these islands. The stark beauty of the volcanic rocks and brightly colored rock formations combined with the colors of the sea is striking. It was worth the few cactus pricks we got during our hike. Check out this rock - it is a volcanic "tuff" pumice material of ash that mixed with the other rocks during a violent volcanic explosion eons ago. So now there are rocks within a rock!

See all those little dots in the photo of Jonesy walking along the beach? Those are CRABS! Thousands of little crabs who scurried away from us as we walked towards them.

We also took our dinghy out to explore around the island and into some of the other coves. Our cruising friends Terry & Michelle from the sailing vessel Coastal Passage came with us on one of these 3-hour tours (photo below). The water was so clear and the seas were totally calm so that we could just look down from the dinghy and see all the sea life below! Our own personal aquarium! This photo is of some sea urchins. We saw lots of different shaped and colored starfish, corals, and of course, tropical fish.

Around one point, we came across more wildlife - Richard and Dona in their dinghy!! Richard is the publisher of the cruising magazine Latitude 38 out of Northern California and the Grand Pubah of the Baja Ha-Ha Rally from San Diego to Cabo San Lucas. They were in the islands as part of a sailing race event. Thats the way cruising Mexico is...hundreds of miles from nowhere and you run into folks who you know.

With Captain Jonesy at the helm of our little dinghy (known as Scooty Puff Jr.) we soon had enough fun in the sun and headed back to hang out on the boat. Can you believe these rock cliffs??? They looked to me like giant mushrooms.

KNITTING CONTENT: So, what have I been knitting? My biggest project was a vest knit with Lett-Lopi wool yarn from Iceland - the CALETA VEST. I decided to use the rusty colors of the rocks, the greens of the scrubby vegetation, and the blues from the sea around me. This I combined with fair isle type patterning with waves running lengthwise.

I LOVE this vest! It was a joy to knit. I've got it all charted out in Excel for sizes 34 to 52 and will be writing up the pattern soon. My vest is a finished size 36". It will be sent off to the folks who are gathering together warm knit items for the Akkol Orphanage in Kazahkstan.

For mindless knitting, I cranked out a couple of wool hats with yarn leftovers from my stash and another pair of heavy wool socks - all adult sized for the teenagers.

We left the islands a couple of days ago and sailed over to La Paz - the big city! We are anchored right off of the Malecon (boardwalk) of the city front. We needed to come here to re-provision our groceries, check our email, and eat out at restaurants!

Keep on knitting!

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