Puerto Escondido to Puerto Escondido
21 March 2011
Virginia and Dennis Johns
Tuesday, March 15th we left Puerto Escondido a bit later than we had planned as we were busy posting our last blog and sending an email to Kira and Devin (our granddaughters) – got to keep our priorities straight. About four boats left ahead of us and we followed them north. Wind and sea got a bit uncomfortable a few hours out as the wind was from the north and we were motor-sailing –again, not making much headway. The boats ahead of us had no sails up and also appeared to be having a rough time so we headed for shore as we were near an anchorage named Mangles and thought we might be able to sit out the afternoon there. But as we scoped it out we found that it was too shallow to get protection from the swell and in the meantime the wind and sea had calmed a bit. So we pressed on to Caleta San Juanico. We saw a whale along the way; Alegria (whom we had met and lunched with in Puerto Escondido) was about an hour ahead of us and alerted us on the radio to keep an eye out for it. As we entered Caleta San Juanico we were glad we had continued on. It was a beautiful bay with some interesting rock formations jutting out of the water on one side of the bay. There were seven boats on one side of those jutting rocks (deeper into the bay) and one boat on the other side. We decided to head for the less crowded area. As we approached, Randy and Gail on Otter (the second boat by that name we had encountered, this one an Island Packet) hailed us on the radio to say that there was plenty of room for us near them on a nice sandy bottom. That made the decision even easier. They came over in their dinghy after we had anchored and introduced themselves. We agreed to meet up again before we both left and visit more. That night we heard a saxophone playing. It resounded throughout the calm anchorage. It was hard to identify the source, but we think it may have been Randy or Gail. It was beautiful. We never did get to have that visit though as the next day south winds were forecast and Randy and Gail moved over to the other side of the anchorage for better protection.
Wednesday, March 16th in the morning, Mary Lee and Lewis (sv. MerryLee) came over and invited us to hike on the island with them. They had also been a part of that lunch group in Puerto Escondido. On the shore where we started our hike was the “Cruisers’ Tree”. Cruisers make art projects with their boat name on them and either hang them on the tree or lay them underneath –there were hundreds of contributions. At one point on the hike we were on a dirt road that had black obsidium stones scattered throughout. We picked up a few and will have to think of a good souvenir project for those. It was a nice hike up to the top of the hill to get the panorama view of the anchorage. When we got back to the boat we baked cookies, got our weather grib files for the next day, and did some chores. We invited Mary and Lewis to join us that evening after dinner for a dessert of cookies –they couldn’t resist. Lewis came by briefly to show us his piece of artwork that they would add to the tree –a piece of bamboo with the name of their boat in maroon toenail polish, further decorated with dried starfish. They brought some special “sipping” tequila. We had that with the fresh cookies. Dennis couldn’t drink more than one sip as straight tequila brings back not so pleasant memories of his bachelor party. We had planned on playing a game or watching a movie, but Mary and Lewis spent the evening describing the various places they have visited on mainland Mexico with Virginia taking good notes about where to find the grocery, laundromat, butcher, and most importantly the music and dancing. We shared our weather info with them as they don’t have SSB. We were headed north and they were headed south, so we bid adieu for the season.
Thursday, March 17th. Happy St. Patrick’s day. We listened to the Amigo and Sunrisa nets in the morning for the weather reports and decided all was well for heading north to Bahia Concepcion. On our hike up the hill yesterday, we found a red adobe tile fragment and Dennis had etched “Libertad” on it with the dremmel tool. He kayaked our art project over to the Cruisers’ Tree and we pulled up anchor. Just before rounding Point Concepcion we were approached by a panga full of fishermen. Dennis had been trolling for over a week with no luck and we were longing for fresh fish, so we struck a deal for what we think was a 10 lb Flag Cabrilla -as best we could tell from our fish guide. Dennis spent the next 10 minutes gutting and filleting. There was no wind until we got near the entrance to Bahia Concepcion, but then we had good wind for sailing down into the bay. Along the way this day we saw a pod of about 100 dolphins that turned and all headed for our boat. We are still not very practiced with the video camera (our first one) but we got a bit of footage of that marvelous scene. The channel down the bay was very shallow at points; we were following another boat in and found ourselves too near the western shore (7.5 feet under us at one point and our keel is 6.5 feet!). Virginia kept an eye on the depth sounder and Dennis piloted us to the anchorage. We chose to anchor in Coyote Bay – the Playa El Burro anchorage. There are several anchorages in Coyote Bay and Virginia chose this one after reading in the guide book about all the fun things available there to do. We went ashore to the one restaurant, Bertha’s, and had dinner. The waiter, Steve - an American and a very amicable character, invited us to an ‘end of winter’ party at his palapa/bus on the beach in the next cove over the following day - Friday. To entice us, he mentioned that he had prepared 100 jello shots.
Friday, March 18th at around 0800 someone was playing a recording of Amazing Grace – the bagpipe version, very, very loudly. It resounded through the anchorage. Beautiful. It sounded like it was coming from Gary’s palapa. Gary is a local weather guru who does the weather reports on the Sonrisa net each morning. You can identify his palapa by the large HAM antenna. We decided we should do a few chores before we played so Dennis rigged thimbles on the cabin roof port and starboard handrails so when at anchor we can secure the main boom to the side for better solar panel exposure, without obstructing the deck. Virginia cleaned the oven. We then kayaked over to the next cove, Playa El Coyote and a bit beyond, searching for a hot spring. We saw tropical fish – beautiful small striped ones, a large turtle floating in the swells, a red starfish with about 20 legs but no hot springs. There was one boat in the anchorage and the owner was kayaking up to it just as we passed. It was Eric aboard Sea Genius, homeport Santa Barbara! He had lived in the Santa Barbara anchorage south of Stern’s wharf and occasionally in the marina for three years to be near his daughter who was attending UCSB. About three years ago he headed down here. He pointed out the hot spring which was actually submerged along the shoreline so it was a saltwater hot spring. The wind was coming up so we decided to head back to the boat for lunch rather than experience it. In the early afternoon we had planned on hiking and attending the party, but the wind whipped up to 25 knots and so we stayed aboard doing chores and reading –Virginia was so looking forward to those jello shots. We had hung our sleeping bags over the booms to air out and you can guess what happened in the increased wind….. When we went up to secure some flapping halyards we found one was hanging over the lifeline and the other was floating about 20 yards from the boat. Dennis hopped into the dinghy and quickly rowed over to retrieve it. Oh well, too warm now for sleeping bags anyway (average daytime temp in the 80’s, night time, high 60’s). About 1700 the wind died and we decided to get in our hike up the hill. That was a great decision as it was a marvelous trip. We saw the petroglyphs that the guide book mentioned, which really pleased us as the trail was not well marked at the beginning and we were just rock climbing when Virginia spotted some. Depicting animals and undecipherable signs, these pieces of prehistoric art were pounded into large rocks with smaller stones. Each one would have taken days to complete. As we headed up the hill, the guide book also had us looking for ‘bell rocks’ -these rocks formed from volcanic heat contain a lot of iron and ring like a bell when you strike them. We knocked on several rocks on the way up the hill and after a while we decided we weren’t going to find them. When we reached the top, Dennis climbed the pinnacle to get a good photo of the area and upon stepping on certain rocks, they produced a clang –he’d found the bell rocks! Now that we knew what they looked like, we found others on the path back down the hill. The sun set as we headed back down and we reached the bottom just as it was getting dark. An evening hike turned out to be perfect as much of the hillside was shaded. It was a fabulous hike – highly recommend it. We hadn’t taken any water so we took a detour to the roadside café and treated ourselves to some Cokes. To top off the day we grilled some of the fresh fish we had bought from the fishermen it was very mild and tasty.
Saturday, March 19th we headed out of Bahia Concepcion and south again, in preparation of heading over to mainland Mexico. We want to do it from a point further south than Concepcion and we missed many of the islands and Baja mainland anchorages on our way north; we want to catch a few more on the return trip. We baked some bread this morning as we motored along. We saw three whales on the trip. We anchored at Punta Pulpito. We were all alone – no other boats, just a group of 5 dolphins. Dennis went up on deck after dinner and called down to Virginia “wow, you’ve got to see this”. This was the night of the ‘super moon’ where it was 14% brighter than normal, a phenomenon that apparently only happens every 18 years. We were in a perfect spot to see it out here away from any city lights and under a clear sky. It was spectacular. The sky was so bright around it that you couldn’t see any stars near it, yet across the sky you could tell that there were stars out. We had heard about it on the radio net that morning but then had almost forgotten about it.
Sunday, March 20th we started to put our kayaks in the water to explore the shoreline which offered several sea caves when the wind came up so we decided we had best get started on our way to Isla Carmen. About an hour out, a fishing boat came alongside and asked if we wanted to trade a yellowtail for a ‘cheap bottle of tequila’. We only had wine aboard and still had fish in the freezer, so we passed on that offer. Besides, it’s just not much fun cleaning a fish you didn’t catch. But we do love yellowtail so it was tempting to bargain. As soon as we anchored at Ballandra cove, we put the kayaks in the water and paddled to the point, then we slowly worked our way around the shore checking out the tidepools and underwater sea life through the very clear water. We saw urchins, bright red starfish, part of a shipwreck, crabs, beautiful tropical fish about 4” in diameter which were black with bright orange and white stripes, a school of adolescent barracuda, and lots of sea plants. Unfortunately though, bees would fly around us spoiling our serenity. They seemed to be especially attracted to Virginia’s sun tan lotion. There were two couples in a dinghy also cruising the anchorage. As we neared them, they explained that they were trying to escape the bees which had ‘taken over their boat’. They were from Reno and Truckee. One couple has a palapa near Puerto Escondido and stay here most of the year. The other couple was headed home soon. They were aboard Impulse. When we got back to Libertad, we did have a few bees, but we went below, closed most of the hatches, leaving a couple smaller ones open for some air and we were soon bee-less. In the early evening they disappeared and we opened up the boat again. For dinner we decided to make our own papas rellenos, a new dish we had in La Paz (potatoes ‘stuffed’ with chorizo). We are running low on fresh produce. I think we have one orange, one banana, one tomato, and some cabbage left. We plan to return to Puerto Escondido to stock up as we plan to be there a few days because the forecast is calling for some serious NW wind over the next two days. They also have internet access so we can catch up on bill paying, our email, and postings to our website. We’ll also return/swap some books that we blew through on our trip north –Dennis has started reading!
Monday, March 21st we motored the short distance from Ballandra on Isla Carmen to Puerto Escondido. We dinghied into shore to take showers and walk to the small tienda in Tripui to see what produce they might have (not much, only got limones and jicama). We decided to have lunch at the restaurant there as we had enjoyed it last week when we were here. We ended up visiting with Gail and Jan from Joy of Life. They are from Alaska and have spent winters here for the past 26 years. They look about our age (or younger). We mentioned that we intended to take the bus to Loreta tomorrow to reprovision and asked if they knew where to refill propane tanks. They kindly offered to give us a ride as Jan was headed there tomorrow in their van and yes, they knew where to get propane. The wind whipped up and we headed back to the boat to do some internet work, including posting this blog and hopefully some photos.