[031220, 2229 UTC, Bahia Magdalena, BCS, Mexico; 24º 39.95'N/112º04.14' W]

Dear Friends;

After a week enjoying the beauty and solitude of Bahia Santa Maria, we've moved on to Bahia Magdalena, about 15 miles further south. This is the last anchorage before the end of the Baja peninsula (at Cabo San Lucas) which is 150 miles further downwind. We hope to leave tomorrow first thing in the morning ("al la manana"), weather permitting.

The estuaries of Bahia Magdalena are known as principle sites for grey whale calving and breeding. Whales begin arriving in December and have been sighted near here, but we only got a brief peek of a breach from a long distance while sailing here today. Bahia Magdalena is enormous (nearly as big as San Francisco Bay) but most of the area is shoal. Our anchorage is right inside "Punta Entrada" (entrance point) south of a sandy spit-called Punta Belcher-that was used historically for a whaling operation. The anchorage is windy and-right now- there's a strong current that's preventing the boat from turning into the wind, leaving us broadside to small wind waves; not a comfortable anchorage at the moment. We are hoping the wind will die down at nightfall.

Our stay at Bahia Santa Maria was idyllic. After the rush of boats heading south moved on to Cabo and the mainland, we were left for most of the week with just one other boat in a bay that's 4 miles by 11 miles! Occasionally a boat would arrive late at night but they all rushed off immediately in the morning, leaving our tranquility intact. We were able to land our dinghy most days on a small stony beach on the western side of the bay that has some protection from the swell provided by a rocky outcropping. This allowed us to explore and hike the surrounding shoreline and mountains. Other days we simply read, baked bread or worked on projects.

One day we hiked to the point and discovered a large motor yacht idling near the waves as two (crazy!) surfers surfed enormous waves close to the rocky shore. Near this point we discovered an old shipwreck. The largest piece of the boat left was an enormous stainless steel drive shaft. Another day, we took a scramble up the ridges to one of the highest peaks of Monte San Lázaro (1300 feet) and peeked over the edge and down the precipice to crashing waves on the west side. Meanwhile, overhead thirteen turkey vultures soared with the wind currents ("I'll bet she tastes like chicken; he like rattlesnake!"). Vegetation on these mountains is sparse and wildlife is rare; we saw only a few small lizards that scurried away on our approach. We came upon numerous "trees" that looked much like bonsai apple trees that grew very close to the ground apparently from lack of water and strong prevailing winds. Other types of vegetation appeared quite dead until you noticed a flower at the end of a gray, dry branch. There were also many cacti and other thorny bushes.

Aside from the turkey vultures mentioned above, we've seen many pelicans, ospreys (mated pairs hunting together), storm petrels which dart between large swells at sea, ravens, the (politically-correct) frigate bird and, of course, the ubiquitous seagull (that we call glaucus mexicanus).

There is an active fish camp in the mangroves on the north end of the Bahia Santa Maria, but we were only visited a few times by the pangueros. One evening we were visited by two pangueros with a three year old child, seeking candy or toys for "el nino". We hadn't thought to bring candy for children but we did have some toys. Watching the boy's eyes get wide at our silly little matchbox car was a wonderful experience. The morning of our departure as we began to pull up anchor we enjoyed a second visit from a panga piloted by Francisco and Marco. Francisco, who is warm and friendly, asked-as is typical-when we will return to their bay. We couldn't tell him exactly of course, but muttered "maybe dos anos". On this visit he also had his children with him, who, unfortunately, were too shy to speak. For two lobsters we traded a number of toys, some pesos, a writing tablet and a dozen colored pencils. We've invited the lobsters to join us for supper tonight; they've reluctantly accepted.

Felices Pascuas,

Philip, Leslie and Jake the kitty