[040109, 0147 UTC, Bahia Los Frailes, BCS, Mexico; 2322.9'N/10925.4' W]

Dear Friends;

We've been at Los Frailes for nine days now and the wind has been blowing almost steadily and with some gusto since we arrived.  (The bright side of this is that we've had sufficient electrical power from our wind generator to run our refrigeration, lights, etc. with no use of fossil fuels.)  The winds complicate dinghy landings though as the beach falls off steeply at the surf-line and (with the winds howling) there's a bit of swell that wraps around the point creating waves that can easily swamp you as the boat comes to an abrupt stop on the beach.  After a few ungraceful and slightly wet landings our technique may be improving but, in truth, each landing is its own choreographed performance.

Los Frailes is right at the Tropic of Cancer but is also the eastern-most point of the Baja peninsula.  High pressure systems prevalent in the western U.S. in winter generally create pressure gradients with concomitant winds that blow down the Sea of Cortez from the N/NW.  Most boats arriving at Los Frailes in winter are heading "across" due east to Mazatlan and then south on the mainland side with the winds.  We hadn't originally planned to do this but wanted to explore the Sea of Cortez while there are fewer boats and the weather is cooler. We have been reconsidering.  One complication is that our mail (at least in theory) was forwarded to La Paz.   More on this later as our plans remain unknown, even to us.

The granite boulder pile that is Cabo Los Frailes to the north protects the sandy-bottomed anchorage from the full force of winter winds.  This small mountain descends suddenly to a beach with dunes that hide a quiet lagoon that's prime bird watching, especially at dusk.  Joining the beach near its center is a wide, deep arroyo that's like an artic river bed-wide, stony and filled with large patches of wood debris from previous floods but with a steep, red, eroded embankment.  We've been told that three miles up the arroyo and then up a spur through a narrow canyon you can find a lovely waterfall but down here at the waterfront it's strictly desert. 

With a backdrop of small, reddish mountains of scrub and cactus, its long wide white sandy beach, its impressive arroyo and good holding ground, Los Frailes is a great place, albeit rustic, to visit by boat.  The atmosphere here is "off-the-paved road" where an interesting mixture of people gather to live, work or simply enjoy its isolation.  There is an extremely poor panga fishing camp of friendly families on the beach; a dozen or more RVs settled in for the season with full camper regalia (from bird feeders to book exchanges in rock-covered cardboard boxes to outdoor shower enclosures to croquet courses, fishing boats, solar panels and ATVs); a tiny exclusive hotel with exquisite hand-carved millwork, bright Mexican art and a pricey menu; a few very large homes in a struggling development and a working rancho with cows that graze along the main (dirt) road. 

Supporting this patchwork community is a shallow well (think third world charm including a makeshift A-frame of driftwood supporting a galvanized bucket on a rope) and mobile tiendas (stores) that arrive on schedules known only to them.  There's a government-sponsored panel truck that theoretically comes on Fridays (offering the best prices according to those in the know) who promised to visit during the holidays but never did.  Then there's the "veggie truck" that's run by a family who sell out of boxes and coolers everything from pollo (chicken) to peppers to canned goods and tortillas.  Finally (at least we think) there's a popular bread and milk truck whose luscious sticky buns (a gift from friends) we've sampled but whose wares we haven't yet shopped.

So far our stay here has been relaxing but active.  We climbed the Cabo to the cross on the eastern peak (watch out for snakes!), enjoyed many visits with Jay and Janice Hawkins and their Buster dog on Ceilidh, had TWO great BIG beach campfires, walked about the small community, baked a bit of bread and read, read, read.  We haven't had much luck with fishing (except-as Philip says-with the brown leather lure containing greenbacks that attracted more competent fishermen) but we've had whales right off our stern at breakfast, a procession of leaping manta rays at dusk and an anchorage lit only by the bright moonlight.

Su amigos con carino,

Philip, Leslie and Jake the kitty