Wednesday, April 9th, we finally got out of La Paz! We’d actually planned to leave on Tuesday but a Norther came roaring in during the wee hours that morning and the wind howled all day. Wednesday morning dawned on a perfect day…no wind at all and flat, slack tide! On our way back from checking out in the office, we had one more chance to say good-bye to our good friend, Kevan, who was leaving that morning for Great Britain (via L.A. & Las Vegas) after selling his boat. I’m not sure when or where we’ll meet again but one thing about cruising is that you can usually be fairly sure there will be an again.
|The "view" from our slip.|
Our friends, Manny & Lola from S/V Desire, cast off our dock lines and, as usual, nothing went “as planned”. I really thought I’d be able to entice “Faith” to go straight out of the slip (forward) and turn left to negotiate between the two gihundous yachts on the end docks. Not so much. She refused to make a sharp enough turn, which meant backing up and trying again. That didn’t work so well either so I finally gave up and let her back her all the way out. The “up” side is that, to the untrained eye, it would have appeared that was exactly my intention from the beginning.
|All alone in Caleta Partida. Ahhhhh.....|
Finally, we were on our way. After spending 5-1/2 months at docks we were both looking forward to some extended stays in anchorages as we made our way back to San Carlos. With not enough wind to sail we motored on flat seas to our first stop, Caleta Partida. This is a very pretty anchorage in a deep cleft on Isla Espiritu Santo. Beautiful green water and white sand beaches surrounded by steep red rock canyon walls. This anchorage is quite popular since it is so close to La Paz so we were surprised to have the place to ourselves. By sunset five more boats had arrived and snugged up so close to the wall on the other side we had to use the binoculars to see them! We were a little concerned that we might have a Coromel that night (big wind off the desert) as the day had been quite warm but that didn’t materialize so a good night’s sleep was had by all.
Early the next morning we were off to Isla San Francisco. This is one of the places we like best so our “plan” was to hang out there for several days. Once again, a very popular anchorage was practically deserted. What a nice surprise to arrive and find only two boats here! With beautiful turquoise water, a long white beach and an easy hike to the top of the island, it is a very special place. The swell was coming out of the south so we anchored inside the reef in hopes of having a quiet night. The rest of the day was spent reading, watching as a few more boats arrived and trying to stay cool. Chris took a quick dip in the water but I resisted. Judging by the gasping when he first broke the surface I surmised that it wasn’t as warm as it looked! Our hopes of staying at Isla San Francisco for several days were quickly dashed when the next morning’s weather net brought a prediction of strong northwesterly winds for several days. After a short discussion we decided to move on to San Evaristo where there is a bit more protection from that direction.
|Even the really big boats wanted to hunker down. This guy tried to fit into several places before finally giving up and leaving.|
Obviously we weren’t the only prudent sailors as there were easily a dozen other boats hunkered down in this pretty little anchorage by the end of the day. Because there are big mountains on the north side that shelter the little village here, we were protected from most of the wind but the best part is that there is very little fetch (distance that waves have to travel and increase in size) so there is very little bouncing around which makes for much better sleeping. The village here is home to many fishermen so pangas roar in and out from sunrise to sunset, and I do mean roar! They NEVER go slowly. As soon as the panga is off the beach and fired it is full throttle from there out. Also, there is no phone service in this village so the residents use their VHF radio for communication. Channel 16 is supposed to be strictly for hailing and for emergencies but not so here. We monitor 16 all the time in case someone has an emergency but with all the chatter around here it gets pretty noisy.
As soon as the “wind event” had passed there was a mass exodus and we were at the head of the pack. We left early to make the 8 hour passage to Agua Verde (Green Water) in hopes of getting a good spot to anchor and spend some quality time in one of the loveliest spots in the Sea of Cortez. We expected quite a crowd at this well-loved anchorage so it was nice to arrive and find that there was plenty of room. Unfortunately, that evening the wind and waves switched around yet again began to come in from the ONLY direction that is unprotected. We were rolling and bouncing all night long. On top of that, we arrived at the beginning of “Holy Week” (Semana Santa) for Mexico. This celebration, which lasts the entire week leading up to Easter, brings the Mexican people to the beaches in droves and Agua Verde is no exception. Tents and RV’s were packed in cheek by jowl (interspersed with beer tents) all along the beach. Jet skis and motor boats sped through the anchorage and VERY loud music (which is a staple at any Mexican gathering) went on all night long. The amount of SERIOUS partying that goes on between Palm Sunday and Easter Sunday is astounding. The general consensus seems to be “Party Hearty because all is forgiven on Easter”. I really thought Agua Verde would be too remote for this holiday but, clearly, I was wrong! So…after one rolly night we fired up the engine and headed north again.
|Puerto Escondido - virtually empty.|
|And yet...the Gigantes are the stunning backdrop for Escondido.|
When we arrived in Puerto Escondido, which used to be a wonderful place to hang out for a week or two, the overwhelming emptiness of the main anchorage was pretty eerie. In the past there were 100 mooring balls here but the few remaining are un-maintained and unusable so we ended up anchoring – which costs the same as using a mooring. The wonderful restaurant & tienda (general store) that have been here for several years closed while we were there, the local yacht club was forced out of their space and has moved to another location, the restrooms are only unlocked from 9 to 5 and there is no TP and no hot water and the entire facility has a deserted feel. Previously we would have happily stayed at least a week but this time, as soon as we’d done the laundry, re-connected with our yacht club friends, picked up a few last minute groceries and had one last meal at Pedro’s restaurant we were happy to leave.
|Trying to even out my tan at Isla Coronado.|
The next stop was Isla Coronado for a few days. We rarely have “company” there and this year was no exception as there was only one other boat and it was so far away we needed binoculars to see them. Besides the beautiful water and all the sea life (dolphins, turtles, birds, etc.), we enjoy having internet access from the cell tower across the water in Loreto.
San Juanico was the next destination but, alas, once again we had fluky conditions. After one day there we moved around the corner to La Ramada to avoid the predicted southerly…which never arrived. From there we were going to Santo Domingo but after 30 minutes of pounding into oncoming wind and seas (in expectation of 8-9 hours of the same) we went back to San Juanico for one more day. The snotty wind was predicted to hold off for a day or two so we decided to scoot on up to Bahia Concepcion before the big stuff arrived. Turns out, the weather guy was wrong again and it took 12 hours for us to make the passage and by the time we got to Santo Domingo we were exhausted. At least we had a quiet night! Next morning we hustled into El Burro Cove where our friends Dan & Mary live. That evening we were invited into their palapa, along with our new friends, Robin & Kathryn, from s/v Agave Azul for a spaghetti feast. It was a wonderful evening filled with wine, pasta and great conversation. It was especially enjoyable since we expected to spend the next 3 days on the boat waiting out another “wind event”.
The morning after the big wind had blown itself out, Dan & Mary drove us all into Mulege (Moo-la-hay) for some grocery shopping and a delicious lunch at “Scotty’s”. As soon as we returned to the boat it was time to move out to Santo Domingo in anticipation of crossing the Sea back to San Carlos the next morning. It was time to go home.
We had a different kind of “season” this year. A lot of sitting at docks while repairs and improvements to the boat were done. A lot of weird weather that meant we were constantly changing and tweaking our plans. We saw some old friends and met some new ones. We made a few road trips, read a lot of books, got to know La Paz better and found some great new destinations. We are already looking forward to next fall…well, at least I am.