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An INNcredible Holiday Season Adventure is a Dream that you can make happen right now

Give the gift of a lifetime experience this Holiday season. Gather your family or closest friends and spend a week or more living a dream aboard our INNcredible Sea Lodge exploring the World’s Aquarium aka the Sea of Cortez. Imagine everyone not glued to their electronic devices and instead swimming, snorkeling, kayaking, hiking and just taking in the excitement of seeing whales, dolphins, rays, sea lions against the backdrop of the Sierra Gigante rising dramatically out of the Baja desert right next to the clear waters of the Sea of Cortez. You really can’t imagine it but you’ll never forget your experience.

Our flip-flopping friends always amaze

Our flip-flopping friends always amaze

 

We’d love to share that experience with you and we have some dates open in December and January. If you act now and reserve a 6-day adventure we’ll call it 5 days, better yet book a 10-day INNcredible Adventure for the price of 7 days. Request your dates and we’ll give you all the details.

Hurry while dates are available and make this Holiday season a once in a lifetime dream come true for the whole family. Call Captain B 530-651-3890

 
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INNcredible Solar System

inncredible-solarJust like when I installed a 40KW (40,000 Watts) solar system at our winery, I don’t hesitate to go BIG and put in a system that attempts to meet 100% of our needs. So when I finally got around to installing solar on our catamaran, I’m going BIG again. 900 Watts may not sound big in comparison but onboard that’s BIG.

The thing about energy on a boat, the use and needs vary tremendously. At anchor, the sun powers up my 720Amp Hour battery bank before noon leaving the solar system on float the rest of the day. The six solar panels are still producing power with no where to go. This means there is extra energy during the day to run the watermaker as needed and near everything else. I tried to calculate however the worst case scenario – under sail 24 hours each day with autopilot, radar, navigation, in addition to all the normal refrigeration, music, toilet flushing, water system plus at night with running lights. In this case we would start the night with a full battery bank and survived until sunrise pulling down what could be 300+ amp hours. Then our solar system would have to recharge the battery bank as well as keep up with the daytime ongoing use. That will be the challenge that only real time will tell if it works. The 1200nm Downhill Hill Run coming up in November will be the first test.

But from now on when at anchor, mooring or even at dock, our electrical needs should be fully met with the sun’s magical energy. This will not only make for a quieter existence but allow us the freedom to explore away from the boat for more than a half day. Now that opens up some great possibilities.

I procrastinated for over four years to install solar mainly because of cost. I originally envisioned solar power onboard but our dealer talked us into the need to have air-conditioning ($24,000+) which created the need for a diesel generator (another $24,000). Needless to say that set us back financially and took the wind out of solar plans. Sadly (and I knew it from the beginning) we don’t need nor use air-conditioning. I do like having the generator onboard however, if needed, and for my dive tank compressor. It was Diana that kept at me over the years to go for the solar despite the generator.

I could only guess that a near 1000 Watt solar system on our Cat might cost $10,000 or way more if I had a company take on the project. As most of my projects start, there was lots of homework to do. Fast forward after a couple years of serious thought about a solar system onboard, it was time to start. The first decision was I would take on the project to minimize the costs, realizing full well that I may end up putting way more hours in than if I hired a company but I figured labor costs would be the major costs. And if you include all the hours of planning/designing, acquiring all the parts, pieces and equipment, the installation and endless trips during installation to get more stuff, you could certainly justify paying out Big bucks to have someone else do it. The only way I pay myself is with the satisfaction that I saved almost all of those Big bucks by doing it myself.

Acquiring all the stuff which came from multiple sources included a trip to a warehouse on the Mexican border east of San Diego to pick up the panels (saving $400 in shipping), on the way back stopping at Downwind Marine to purchase the Blue Sky charge controllers and display, internet orders and I’m thankful for the close proximity of the San Pedro West Marine for wire and connectors. I was so lucky to find Tea to build the SS racks needed to hold 650 square feet of panels high up, out of our view shed, extending our roof line aft.

Hiring a neighbor sailor for two days to help me install the racks and secure the panels in place, the rest of the job was in my lap. The wiring… in any other application, like a new house, the wiring would be without challenges, not so on a boat. Everything you have to do is awkward, demanding contortions for which only child labor is suited. To make matters worse is my eyesight. After you wiggle and contort yourself into place with each hand full of tool and part you look up at the spot and it’s all blurry. Bifocals suck when you’re looking up in  a small space. Three hands would help a lot too. The simplest of jobs like finding the head on a screw with your screw driver became a frustrating challenge. Oh I let off steam quite regularly just to keep myself from exploding. But most of the time I settled into a slow steady form of progress.

After six days from the time we installed the racks it was time to let the sun fire up the system. Off came the double-folded brown tarp, that covered the panels from the sun so no power was being generated while I was wiring, after dark settled in. The system awaited the next morning’s sunrise. A sunrise that never came. A freak summer front had sneaked into SoCal and kept a dense cloud cover overhead all day. Not a problem, this system took right off, albeit modestly and by 1030 was producing 15+ amps per hour. Our battery bank took on a charge with the help of the Blue Sky charge controller that walked my bank to 100% capacity despite the cloud cover. On a sunny day we can hit 40+ amps.

With scars and all to prove it, I’m happy to say I did it, it works great and I saved at least $5k if not $10K too. And the joy comes every morning as I watch the sun rise and the display unit shows those amp hours accumulating. Diana is already tired of me announcing the amp hour production every hour or so.

 

 
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INNcredible Adventures await you in the Sea of Cortez 2016/2017

Inncredible Sea Lodge

you’re home wherever you are – it’s INNcredible!

INNcredible adventures await you in the Sea of Cortez. I know. I keep going back now for the fifth year. And you are welcome to join us from December 2016 through early April 2017 as we explore the waters, the islands, the fishing villages and the historic towns of La Paz and Loreto. With our eyes out watching for whales, dolphins, turtles, rays, whale sharks, etc., we witness what Jacques Cousteau called the World’s Aquarium. Witness that and the magic below snorkeling close up, kayaking or even diving. The water clarity is amazing. As we sail/motor along, the fishing lines are always out. If we’re not so lucky that day, we’ll solicit a local fisherman for the catch of the day. Nevertheless we always start our trips with fresh provisions from the farmers market and local purveyors. We eat like kings aboard the INNcredible Sea Lodge.
To get your exercise and enhance your adventure, you may want to stretch your legs on land hiking the unique coastal desert landscape. Kayaking can tone those muscles and offer some great shoreline encounters. Simply swimming open water laps or hours of discovery snorkeling will give you that feel-good exercise and adventure all in one. After that or anytime, our catamaran offers many places to sit and relax and just stare off and absorb the unique majesty of the Sierra Gigante and the stark beauty of the desert that touches the sea. And good thing you don’t need film anymore because you’ll be clicking plenty of photos along the way.
In your group of family or friends the idea of a perfect adventure vacation is an individual thing. When you’re not inclined to be active, you can choose to relax, take a nap, snuggle up to a good read, lie in the sun or enjoy refreshments in solitude. You’ll have no worries. We provision, we do the cooking, the cleaning, the boat thing and you need do nothing. How’s that for the busy modern day parent/professional. You’ll be unplugged much of the time, that’s just the way it is out there. That’s a beautiful thing, I promise. You’ll get used to it and rediscover how to appreciate that freedom. If absolutely necessary there are ways to stay connected and we can discuss that ahead of the trip.
Fill your 3 cabins with either family or friends. Each cabin has a double bed and private bathroom. You’re welcome to have a total of 6 people onboard. Our floating B&B delivers the whole package and for a price that will surprise you. That’s because we love what we do and are happy to share our dream life with you.
Our schedule has room for you from December 15th through January 25th out of La Paz, then from February 13th through early April out of Loreto. Even Christmas break is wide open for that lucky family or friends, so sieze the opportunity NOW.
This is the TIME to SECURE your DATES with us so we can plan together an INNcredible adventure vacation, that will recharge your batteries both physically, emotionally and spiritually, and create a lasting wonderful memory to share for a lifetime. As a fair warning, don’t take for granted that I’ll be in the Sea of Cortez again in 2018, maybe, but then again we may be off to the South Pacific.

 
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Come hear the Blue Whales sing – February 2016

The INNcredible Sea Lodge is leaving for Loreto’s National Marine park where the giant Blue Whales hang out for the winter to raise their young. Watch the Sea rise as they surface and blow and sing their songs sometimes all around. Mantas, dolphins and turtles add to the entertainment as the INNcredible Sea Lodge explores the many islands and anchorages. Snorkel, kayak, swim, dive, fish and just look and enjoy life aboard our Lagoon 450 catamaran. Only two weeks still available February 12 through March 2 and they could be yours. Contact us asap to come join us. Fly in and out of Baja’s historic capitol Loreto.

 
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The Downhill Run 2015

The Downhill Run is my 1200 mile commute from the incredible see lodges summer home in San Pedro (LA Harbor) to our winter playground in the Sea of Cortez, base port being La Paz, the City of Peace and capital of Baja California Sur.

After weeks of gathering stores of prized foodstuffs not readily available in Mexico or dearly overprice there, plus accumulating all the spare parts our forward thinking could remember, not to forget harvesting our tomatoes and canning them into sauce, picking and drying three burlap sacks of walnuts and chain-sawing and splitting enough firewood to help keep the fires going in my family’s three households, it was time to pack. Pack the wagon and leave our cozy little foothill lake house and start the overland first part of the commute.

Shortly after our arrival at the Cabrillo Way Marina, my crew began arriving, Caleb from Prescott Arizona followed shortly thereafter with our long time friends Chris and Kathy from Santa Barbara with their teenage grandson Jacob in tow. The next 24 hours were full of chores readying her (the INNcredible Sea Lodge) for the near three week journey through the Pacific waters of coastal Baja California.

Pushing off the dock in San Pedro, one stop remained – topping up with diesel at Jankowitz fuel dock. The long time lure of cheaper fuel prices in Mexico had disappeared just two years ago, so filling up in LA Harbor saved almost $2 per gallon compared to the over $1 (18 pesos) per liter price in Mexico. That done we motored outside the breakwater of the world’s fourth busiest harbor, raised our sales and set our course for Ensenada – ETA 26 hours later.

I like to keep two lines out trolling for dinner but the floating big bulb kelp is such a menace that all lines come in at night because even in the daylight we still snag a floating island of kelp now and then. That cursed fiasco demands a complete slowdown of the boat to muscle the long trolling line back to the boat so we can release the kelp.

The predicted weather showed a big blow coming in late that next day shortly after our projected arrival and I really wanted to experience that event snugly tied to the dock at the Cruise Port Marina in Ensenada. We made it not only in time to miss the blow but in time to walk the 10 blocks to our favorite fish taco street vendor in all of Ensenada Los Flores – 18 pesos for taco pescado, 23 pesos for taco camerones with all the fresh fixins. With a crew of non-drinkers, the idea of partying the night away on the strip in Ensenada was not even on our radar for this Sunday night. A good night’s sleep after our first overnight sail was everyone’s desire.

Ensenada, our port of entry into Mexico, is so unique around the world in that the clearing process can be accomplished all under one address, in one building, in one big room with counters for the port captain, immigration, customs, the bank even fishing licenses. Brilliant idea that has not inspired anywhere else in my cruising halfway around the world.

Officially entered and free to roam about we pushed off early at the reasonable hour of 0815 heading out round Bufadora and 120 nm (nautical miles) down to the big shallow mouth of the estuary at San Qintin arriving the next morning at 0630 just before sunrise. After breakfast, a little extra shut eye, the crew kayaking to the beach and back, the consensus was to catch the present wind and sail all the way toIslas Los Benitos about 30 hours away. But the winds blew a perfect 8 to 15 knots propelling us at 6 to 8 knots SOG (speed over ground) sailing wing-on-wing then back to a reach all the way to the land of the elephant seals.

Anchored in 28 feet in a patch of sand amongst rocks in this remote mini archipelago some 50 miles offshore of the mainland, we could hear and smell the elephant seals a little better than we could see them as they blend into the hard scape along the shore. Visible unaided when they rear up there heads and with more detail through the eyes of binoculars, the lure of the elephant seals pull me back each year both coming down in November and going back in April.

Another lure and treat of the Benitos comes from the local Pescadores, of which there are only a few, who trade with us for lobsters – a bottle of wine, five beers, some fruit and other foodstuffs got us 15 lobsters to enjoy. Barbecued for dinner, added to our scrambled eggs for breakfast and made into a lobster salad sandwich spread for lunch we had the taste of lobster in our mouse for the next 24 hours all the way to Turtle Bay.

This being my sixth visit to Turtle Bay on my commutes back and forth to the Sea of Cortez, I have never seen a turtle here and on the navigation chart it’s officially named Bahia San Bartolome . Yet this dusty oasis of a fishing village, which is a stop on every boat’s journey for both fuel and some provisioning, is always referred to as Turtle Bay. My first mate Caleb mentioned that Turtle Bay just got a new ballpark filled with Astroturf. As we were anchoring we could already hear the cheers and the announcers chatter from a several thousand feet away. By the time we lowered the dinghy and got ashore this Sunday late afternoon the ball game was over but the ballpark was no less impressive.

The next morning came after a good night’s, a full nights, sleep and by 1000 our sails were up and she was headed out on a two day/two night nonstop run to the broad sweeping well protected Bahia Santa Maria. But first we had 255 nautical miles of open seas to cross. Here is where the mainland arcs way in to the east and we beeline straight across putting us 50+ miles offshore when we’re more than 125 miles from land on the north/south axis. But not to worry, for if you can swim in 10 feet of water, you can swim in 10,000 feet of water – the same goes for sailing. I know both are true for I sailed across the Atlantic and swam in the middle of it too.

We caught our first fish, this first day of December, and a real treat – a big eye tuna. Within five minutes after the tuna hit the deck, I had both thick fillets stuffed in the fridge to chill all the while sailing along.

All eyes were on the big eye tuna as it appeared again, this time thinly sliced cross cuts served on a communal platter with a special wasabi sauce. Anyone’s reluctance to sashimi (a.k.a. raw fish) disappeared after one bite melted away as smooth as butter, unless you overdid on the wasabi and singed some of the hairs in your nose. Not even the finest sushi restaurant could compete with this simply spectacular sashimi experience.

This double overnight sail was conveniently punctuated with an early arrival at 0230 because we did so well sailing along at 6.5 – 8.5 knots SOG. By 0245 all were fast asleep peacefully rocking at anchor in Bahia Santa Maria.

The sun rising has a way of luring me up and out of bed to witness the awakening of a new day regardless of what time I had laid my head down – and so it was. Bright sunshine, albeit windy, with the water warmed to a balmy 77°, I decided to suit up in my dive gear to deep clean the bottom of my catamaran’s two hulls and two saildrives. I sucked in every drop of air in my tank over the 75 minutes to scrape off the white crusty growth acquired in the INNcredible Sea Lodge’s summer home in Southern California.

Meanwhile this beautiful day was the crew’s day to get out and explore – and so they did. The long sandy beach here is littered with sand dollars and shells and fronts an estuary alive with birds of many different feathers. The bay is so shallow that although we anchored in only 19 feet of water, she laid more than a quarter mile to shore. Against the offshore relentless wind made for a vigorous kayak in, the alternative being a good long swim.

When at anchor the batteries need a good charge each day. Our 13.5 KW diesel generator on board is mighty enough to do that plus everything else all at once. So after dinners the generator runs, all rechargeable devices are plugged in, the water maker is making 20+ gallons per hour, and we all sit down to enjoy a movie on the flat screen. By movie’s end all is turned off, the batteries nicely topped up, and total quiet returns aboard the INNcredible Sea Lodge – perfect for a much-needed full nights sleep.

Deciding when to leave is based on our ETA to the next anchorage. It’s always best to arrive in daylight unless you have intimate knowledge from experience of that next anchorage. Also the first part of this multiple day/night run has in the past, delivered the most awesome whale watching. So we started our run on December 3 at 1400 with an ETA 0700 on December 5 at the famous Cabo San Lucas.

Whales cited yet no showstoppers breaching like last year here, at least not yet.

Soon after dawn’s first light I let out the trolling lines on both rods. We were making good speed, 6+ knots, which is important to interest the exciting more athletic predator fish. ZZZI IINNNG! The sound of the line running wildly out and Jacob is the first to the portside reel. Reeling in but getting nowhere, this fish, whoever it was, was giving this modest reel and Jacob a fight. In short time Jacob claims he’s reeling in pain. I take over and slowly make little bits of progress reeling in this deep diver.

And wouldn’t you know minutes later, the starboard side reel starts to ZZIINNG and only Jacob is up to get it. Pain aside, Jacob starts reeling in albeit much easier on this larger rod and dual speed real. Jacob has this fish in before I have mine close enough to see what it is. Jacob pulled in another big eye tuna and eventually so did I.

For lunch the crew powered down two platters of the best fresh raw tuna on earth. And there was plenty more to enjoy served in other ways for meals to come. The day wasn’t half over when about 45 nautical miles north of Land’s End the much anticipated multicolored speed demon struck our painted cedar plug. Always a challenge until on board and knocked out, the Dorado (a.k.a. Mahi-Mahi) likes to jump, leap, wiggle and flop and find ways to get free even when already on deck. Bracing my crew over–enthusiastically with that bundle of knowledge all within 30 seconds, we were all ready to successfully bring this one in. And so it was.

Reminiscent of crossing the Atlantic, this same beautiful hot sunny day prompted me to suggest we stop out here 20 nautical miles off the coast near Todos Santos, sails down and motors off, and everyone go for a refreshing swim. Thousands of feet deep, so crystal clear and warm, once in, we all just swam, frolicked and floated for nearly half an hour reluctant to get out.

We made such good time on this run that instead of arriving at our ETA 0700 we rounded the famous Land’s End in the glow of the beach resort’s lights and set our anchor right off the sandy beach at midnight. A whole day of fun swimming, snorkeling and crowd watching looking in from our anchorage was ours to enjoy when we woke.

Then late afternoon Caleb, Jacob and I took the dinghy into the harbormaster’s dock to explore the town. Walking the barrio, then into old town so Caleb and Jacob could shop for gifts, we found our much sought after destination – Mi Casa restaurant for dinner. The ambience of this iconic cantina is well worth the extra effort to find, a true dining experience.

After dinner we hopped onto a small collectivo bus to meander through the barrio’s out to the big box store Soriana to gather some major provisions for our next weeklong journey up the Sea of Cortez. The collectivos are the way to go where the equivalent fair of $1 instead of $20 for a taxi gets you just about anywhere you need to go. But on the ride back, all loaded down with our bags full of provisions, the collectivo we hopped on smelled like it was leaking gasoline – bad. We just figured it was coming from the engine. One stop along the way a man came from the back of the bus carrying a car battery and got off. Behind him came another man carrying a large plastic container full of gasoline and thank God got off too. Had a cigarette been lit well, I wouldn’t be writing to tell this tale.

Now it was time to turn the corner and start heading up the Sea of Cortez. The challenge is this time of year the wins like to blow down the Sea of Cortez bringing with them steep, close together, confused wind waves that can bring even the best of cruising sailboats to their knees.

So were up with our anchor at 0400 in total darkness saved by the rising third quarter moon beaming that perfectly lit our pathway out through the other boats anchored off Cabo. Made good SOG 5.5 to 6.2 knots until about 1000 when the wind quickly built to 25 knots on our nose and stayed there all day bringing our SOG at times down to 3 to 3 1/2 kn.

Nevertheless we made it to anchor in the lee of the big rocky mountain called Los Frailles and put out about 150 feet of chain just to make sure we weren’t going anywhere.

The idea was to get up again at 0400 and muscle our way up to Ensenada de Los Muertos to sneak in those precious hours of relative calm before the northerly winds howled again. 0400 came, the captain and his crew mobilized, but the wind had never backed down and was already howling. So I said to my mates, “Back to bed, we’ll try again tomorrow”. No one argued.

That gave us a day of leisure – each and everyone free to do whatever- great snorkeling here. Two fishing boats had pulled in and anchored off and behind us. Quiet all day after their night of fishing, the deck came to life late in the day. Seeing a neighboring sailor returning to his sailboat in his kayak with a load of shrimp, I lowered our dinghy with two bags in a bucket in hand and motored over to get some of this action. “Queremos a comprar camerones, por favor. Tres kilos.” The deck hands duty fully filled our two bags and weighed them showing us the scale to verify – 4 kg. But they said 300 pesos the price for 3 kg will do. So the US equivalent $18 bought us 8.8 pounds of fresh shrimp.

Back at our boat I portioned, bagged and froze more than half for later as our feasting began. Here it is December 18, were enjoying some today and probably enjoyed more well beyond Christmas.

By 0400 on December 8 conditions improved a little but it was time to take the bull by the horn and muscle our way to Muertos. Bashing up to Muertos wasn’t pretty and a long day going only 3 to 4 knots but with INNcredible muscle we made it – alive.

Anxious to start exploring Espiritu Santo, we were under way by 0500 the next morning. To my surprise the conditions kept improving as the day went on and we made anchor in 9 feet of water off Playa Bonanza, at the lower end of Espiritu Santo, by 1300. That early arrival gave us plenty of time to swim, beachcome and explore before the long swim back to the boat almost a quarter mile offshore yet in 9 feet of water. There was even time for me to help Jacob with his geometry and algebra worksheets. We powered through the problems over the next couple quiet hours as the others napped. I enjoyed remembering geometry all over again.

Totally beyond where we needed to go, I took us up to a favorite anchorage called Caletta Candelero where we enjoyed the most perfect day of the whole trip. Candlero has a tall rock in the middle of the bay around which we snorkeled an exciting reef. Then went ashore for a hike up the canyon sculpted by time and lush with vegetation and fig trees before returning to the INNcredible Sea Lodge for our Last Supper on the hook December 10.

Next morning we headed for our final destination Marina Costa Baja whom I had emailed days before and said we will arrive by 12 noon. And just like a well run railroad Captain Fitzwine was tied up the fuel dock to check-in at 1155 after 18 days and 1200 miles at sea.

 
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Are you ready? Have you reserved your dates? The Sea of Cortez awaits!

With a fabulous 2015 season  full of many visits to Santa Catalina just about over, my focus is now on preparing for another unforgettable winter season exploring the Sea of Cortez. Setting sail in mid-November, the INNcredible Sea Lodge will arrive in La Paz by December 10th ready to begin our adventures of Espiritu Santo, La Partida, Isla San Francisco, Isla San Jose and Bahia La Paz. Are you ready to make your own dreams a reality? Then come join Diana and I. Reserve your dates with us now.

Imagine an unforgettable family vacation sailing, swimming, snorkeling, kayakiflying_ray_blogng, fishing and viewing whales, dolphins, sea lions, whale sharks, rays, turtles and a whole list of notables swimming below and flying above. An experience not to be missed so don’t put it off another year. Use our Contact Us form with your dates and I’ll get back with you with all the particulars so you can secure your dates. After that, all you have to do is book your flights into Cabo San Jose (or into La Paz itself) and pack your bags. We take care of everything else.

Then in February, we mender up to the islands all around Loreto and explore that amazing area through the end of March. You can plan to fly in and out of Loreto direct from LAX and beyond.

And for the more adventurous traveler, we have some Hop-on / Hop-off opportunities too. In Early December Hop-on in Cabo San Lucas and hop-off in La Paz. In early February Hop-on in La Paz and Hop-off in Loreto with the reverse available in late March and early April.

You will be amazed all around at what an INNcredible value vacation adventure we offer available only to a chosen few – you and the next ten groups that secure their dates for winter 2015/16 season now.

 
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Our Little Lake House overlooks everyday comings and goings

Home for awhile after 5 months aboard our INNcredible Sea Lodge, I immediately become reacquainted with the beauty of our Sierra Foothills surroundings. Complete Mother Goose as nannywith the oak woodlands and pine forests plus our little water feature right out front. And as little as it may be this ‘lake’ is home and stopover to quite a few feathered friends, even an occasional bald eagle. The peaceful entertainment of the comings and goings is quite a delight. One of our residents that we noticed last year doing just the same showed itself again last week back at work as the ‘Nanny’. Old Mother Goose, still pretty and bright white, was in parade with the new Canada Goose family – Ma, Pa and a string of goslings. Ma first, followed by old Mother Goose escorting all those little goslings and Pa keeping a lookout in the rear. Everyday we enjoyed this new family scooting around in its daily routine with Mother Goose as ‘Nanny’.

 

Then this chilly May morning Diana and I noticed an unusually large white duo floating about. Upon closer look, their long orange beaks came in view. Pelicans? White Pelicans? We’re over 150 miles from the Pacific coast and I have never seen Pelicans here before, let alone white ones. Rush out to my office in the barn to fetch my Cannon rebel with a telephoto lens to do my best to validate what our eyes were seeing. A good thing because the visiting White Pelicans were not here long and took to flight as I was shooting them (pictures that is). Opened up my IPhone bird app called Merlin and entered in the characteristics of what we saw and sure enough these were two ‘uncommon’ American White Pelicans roaming about probably just on a stopover to their more common hunting grounds.White Pelican flying

So even when away from sailing aboard the INNcredible Sea Lodge, this little water feature makes me feel right at home. And feeling at home wherever you are is a good feeling to have and enjoy. Want not for what you don’t have, enjoy each and every day along the way.

 
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Hop on/Hop off friends not BASHful

Over the 1200 miles commute back to San Pedro from the Sea of Cortez, conditions out in the Pacific occasionally get rough. Heading into the NW wind as they climb beyond the 20 knot range is challenging for us and some of our feathered friends too. And sometimes we’re bashing up against the wind and swells for several days and nights betCaleb holding doveween finding refuge at anchor.  We had some unexpected visitors hop on/hop off as we made Turtle Dove hitching a rideour way up this April.

First visitor was a landlubber by most accounts and what he was doing fluttering about so far offshore we did not know. Landing precariously on the foredeck keeping its distance form us, this member of the Turtle Dove family huddled in the uncomfortable open but at least enjoyed relief from flying into the strong headwind. As time went buy the dove found enough comfort in the situation to move closer and find a little shelter up top. The more we didn’t pay attention to him, the closer in he moved. Pictures were taken but the best one was shot when I was off-watch catching much needed rest by crew member Kathy. Kathy caught Caleb with ‘one in the hand’ making Mr. Turtle Dove feel quite at home. After a day or more riding with us, that ‘one in the hand’ flew off to join others in the bush as land came back into sight.

 

 

Then looking for a layover after a tough long run from Turtle Bay past Los Benitos to a hopeful landing in San Qintin, we turned in short to Punta San Carlos just before dawn and dropped our hook laying out plenty of rode so we would hold tight in the big winds and get some long hours of sleep. Upon rising we noticed we had a new hop on feathered friend, bashful as would be expected but not startled enough to go anywhere soon. Interesting little fellow that showed up in my book of birds as a Night Heron. He stuck around resting a day and night while we were at anchor. Then he stayed with us as we weighed anchor and headed north. Where he hopped off I can not say but he Night heron onboardmNight heron hidingust have found the rest he needed and enjoyed his respite in the comfort of the INNcredible Sea Lodge as we all do while bashing up the beautiful Baja coast.

 

 
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Young Liam and his Yellowtail

This is a fish story, I won’t deny it; but it’s true from tip to tale.

There were six of us, boats that is, anchors down, hoping we’d hold tight for three days as one of Sea of Cortez’s famous Northerlies blew and blew and blew. Toward the late afternoon of the third day, young Liam and Peter, skipper of the Outrider and Liam’s Dad, set out in their modest dinghy with two visiting little kids. Liam held his small pole out dragging a small shiny gold spoon with a hook attached as Peter motored along. The wind was still blowing, although a little less than earlier, but the choppy wind waves made their going slow and bumpy. Starting from where their pretty red sailboat ‘Outrider’ was anchored tucked up into the north end of the cove (called Ballandra on the western shore of Isla Carmen), the four of them, crowded in the modest dinghy, trolled by the reef at the north, then across the opening looking out at the angry Sea of Cortez, to the reef at the south-side.

Diana and I, cooped up for three days on our INNcredible Sea Lodge, watched both for entertainment and in hopes that they might stop by for a visit. I hadn’t seen them catch any fish but I wasn’t watching continuously either. Then I noticed when they were inside the southern reef that young Liam’s line was straight out as was his pole. Sure enough he must have snagged his lure on an underlying rock because nothing was giving, Liam was just holding on. Skipper Peter drove the dinghy back out toward the reef with seemingly little luck freeing the line. Then I saw it, every boy’s fish dream, Liam had a whopper of a fish pulling the four of them in their dinghy around. That little dinghy had no room for a flip-flopping big fish. Once onboard can you imagine the damage that fish could have done and those poor little kids.

I turned and grabbed my big net and started waving it like a flag, they were too far to yell. Liam saw me and Peter started making way toward me standing at the back transom of our catamaran. Liam was rightfully excited and nervous that he might lose his dream catch. I yelled, “Gaff or net?” Liam yelled, “Gaff” as they got closer. This Big fish seemed abnormally docile being dragged alongside their dinghy but when the dinghy stopped the big one went wild and I couldn’t gaff it. I grabbed my net, which I had positioned right next to me just in case, and held it out ready to catch it on its next swim-by. Got it – barely! Front half in right at the bottom of the steps but I called for Liam to help lift it because I was afraid it might break through the bottom of the net when fully out of the water. Liam and I had it onboard – a 125 cm long Yellowtail weighing at least 50 pounds. That’s over 49 inches for us Americans (last hold-outs to the world’s metric system)

Excitement still running high, everyone included, decisions had to be made and quickly before this yellowtail became a bucking bronco. I offered to clean it for them right her but warned the Dad, Liam & the kids it wouldn’t be pretty, never is. Young Liam wanted pictures, rightfully so, and on his own camera too. Peter unloaded the kids with us and sped back to his Outrider for the camera.Liam's yellowtail

Meanwhile as Liam held his rod and tail and I the net I started bludgeoning this sweet old yellowtail with my billy-bat. Trying to send it to fish heaven as quick as I could, I swacked it a dozen times or more, each one pinging like my aluminum bat was hitting a rock – his head. Today, the next day as I write this, my elbow is in pain from the pounding. And me a vegetarian not use to having to kill for my dinner. The little kids stood back but by as the overt death of a beautiful big fish took place – traumatized.

Peter returned in the dinghy but with two more adults, the two little kids’ parents. But our boat was rocking and their dinghy bouncing in the chop but not in sync. They called out for help. Compelled to help but forgetting I had my hands full holding the handle of the net with the Big Yellowtail inside, I took a step down the transom, slipped and was headed for the Sea of Cortez with net in hand, fish in net and sure to lose all turning this into a real fish story – one with no evidence. Falling, I caught my own dinghy hanging on its davits and defied disaster. They were on their own in their dinghy as I refused further assistance and just focused on holding the yellowtail. Liam almost lost his tongue as he gulped a deep breath while I was falling.

Back to business, Liam held up the big yellowtail, pictures were taken, emotions were shared, the events were relived over and over again as I cut and filleted young Liam’s dream catch of the day.

 
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Called the World’s Aquarium -the Sea of Cortez 2015

swimming with whale shark off El Magote
swimming with whale shark off El Magote
sea turtle close up in Bahia La Paz

sea turtle close up in Bahia La Paz

The INNcredible Sea Lodge has been exploring the Bahia La Paz and its nearby islas for the past two months with so much water passing under our bow that I couldn’t possibly share all the INNcredible experiences with you. I can say that all of your senses become saturated with nature’s beauty and yet remain at high alert for those close encounters waiting to appear when you least expect it. Some we know where they are, some we look for, some we hope for but all are a welcome surprise whenever they appear.

Imagine leaving your day to day routine completely behind with no way to connect even if you wanted. No virtual distractions, everything is utterly real here. From dawn’s light, the light brings the landscape of earth and sea to life all through the day. The sunset reveals a potpourri of colors that lingers long within the cloak of darkness. Yet the darkness has its own light so bright, so immense with that of an unspoiled sky. The light of certain stars and planets are so bright they cast their beam of light across the sea as if they were so nearby. Before long you realize that your senses are so mesmerized with light’s dance that you don’t even think nor feel the need for or loss of being connected to your virtual reality of your everyday life. Now that’s a real vacation.

The photos shared show our close encounters with whale sharks, a pod of short-finned pilot whales and the ever elusive sea turtles.

short-finned Pilot whale in the San Lorenzo Channel

short-finned Pilot whale in the San Lorenzo Channel

Diana and I head north in the Sea of Cortez to explore the way to Loreto, its nearby islas and Bahia Concepcion. You’re invited but dates are limited so you can text me at 530-651-3890 or email brian@inncrediblesealodge.com between now and February 1 while we are connected to your virtual reality.. Afterwards we’ll be drifting in and out, mostly out into that Dance described above.

 
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