Sea of Cortez
14 April 2012 | La Paz
We left La Paz on Tuesday April 3 to head further up into the Sea of Cortez to do some more exploring. Many of the islands and anchorages in the Sea are national marine parks so you are supposed to buy a park pass in order to anchor at them. Before we left Bonnie went off to find the office where we could purchase the passes. She did not have to go very far because there was an office right in the marina complex at Marina de La Paz where we were staying. Once there she was told they had no park passes to sell. They had been out of them for several weeks and did not know when they would be getting more. Bonnie asked what she should do since we were leaving that day and did not have a pass. The person told her not to worry about it. If we get stopped just tell the authorities we tried to buy the passes but the office was all out of them. He said it happens all the time and they would understand. Bonnie was thinking “Only in Mexico.”.
Our first stop was in one of the parks in an anchorage called Ensenada Grande on a small island called Isla Pertida. It was a three-lobed bay and at the head of each lobe were white sandy beaches. We set the hook in the southern lobe and spent a nice quiet non rolly night at anchor. The bay is very popular with kayak expeditions and all along the beaches campsites were set up to accommodate them. The expeditions have a boat that accompanies them and it carries all the food, tents, sleeping bags, kitchen gear and everything else to set up a nice comfortable camp for when the kayakers make it to shore.
The next day we took off for our next stop which was San Everisto. It is a very small fishing village on the Baja Mainland. We took our daily walk which led us past their one room school house where they currently have nine students attending. We continued walking down to the salt evaporation ponds at the end of town before heading back to the boat. It was a pretty quiet uneventful day.
After San Everisto we headed out to Aqua Verde where we stayed for 2 nights. It was Semanta Santa which is the Mexican holiday before Easter. Many families take this week off and spend the time relaxing. As we were traveling to Aqua Verde we could see the beaches all lined with tents, trailers and motor homes as the Mexican people flocked to the beaches for their vacations. The bright colored tents and awnings made the beach look very festive. Once in Aqua Verde we pumped up our kayak and spent part of the day paddling around. The water is very clear here so we had great views of all the fish swimming below us.
From Aqua Verde we went to the furthest point north we were going to go which was Puerto Escondido. We tied up to a mooring ball there and went in to take some much needed showers. There is not much at Puerto Escondido. It has a very nice sheltered bay with a small Fonotur Marina, a tienda and a small restaurant. It was kind of strange because the land around the bay has the infrastructure for some pretty big projects. There are paved streets with street lamps that surround a whole bunch of barren lots. I think they were thinking it was going to be a big tourist place but the funds dried up and now it is just empty. Bonnie and I were going on our morning walk when we met Gary and Phyllis from Canada. They were driving into Loreto and wanted to know if we wanted to go along so we jumped into their car and were able to spend a little time exploring this quaint little town.
The next day we got up early to head to our next destination which was Isla San Francisco. We checked the weather the day before and all the reports were for calm conditions with wind in the 4 to 5 knot range. Well the predictions were wrong and as we were heading south we ended up motoring the whole way right into 20 knots of wind. One of the guide books we read said if anybody asks which direction the wind blows in the Sea of Cortez to just tell them it always blows right on the nose. We were able to tuck into a cove on the north side of Isla San Francisco so we had some protection from the wind but as it usually does the wind subsided by the evening and we got a good night’s sleep. In the morning we hiked around the island and did some beach combing. In the early afternoon the wind had shifted and was now coming out of the north so it was making our anchorage very rough. Our original plan was to stay in the anchorage for another night and then head back to La Paz in the morning but we decided to take advantage of the north east wind that was blowing, pulled anchor and sailed back to Ensenada Grande. It was a great sail with the wind on the beam the whole way and we made good time.
After a night in Ensenada Grande we had favorable winds and were able to sail back to La Paz in time to get involved with Bay Fest going on now. Bay Fest is a celebration that the local cruising club Club Cruceros de La Paz puts on every year. It is kind of a celebration for the end of cruising season down here since April is when many cruisers leave their boats and head back to their home ports for the summer or begin to head north into the Sea of Cortez where it is cooler. They have seminars, games, dinghy races, sailboat races and other fun activities to enjoy. Bonnie and I signed up for the blindfold dinghy race. This is a rowing competition where the person rowing is blindfolded and your partner tells you which way to steer around the racecourse. Bonnie really enjoyed this because she got to boss me around. We made a really good pair though because we sprinted out in front at the start and no one was even close to us as we crossed the finish line. The second place finishers were a young couple who broke one of their oars at the start and ended up using their other oar to paddle around the course. We think they would have been some stiff competition if they had both oars to work with. After the race we sat in on a seminar that talked about doing the “Baja Bash” and got some good tips on how to prepare for the slog up the coast from Cabo San Lucas to San Diego.
That pretty much brings us up to date. We are planning on being in La Paz for another couple of days to wash the boat and do a little provisioning before we head out again to do some more gunkholing in the islands around here. Then it is back to La Paz and final preparations for the “Baja Bash”.