Las Cocinas and Back to Baja
06 July 2015 | Las Cocinas, Sonora
After five days in Bahia San Pedro, we sailed another fourteen miles north to a cute little anchorage called Las Cocinas. It's called Las Cocinas, "the kitchens," I read, because the Indians who used to live in the area left middens here, which contained, among other trash, the refuse from their foodmaking activities.
We were the only boat in the anchorage for the first day, but later another boat, the French-flagged Enez, came to share it with us.
The anchorage was another one of those picturesque turquoise coves with a white sandy beach and desert beyond. After we'd anchored, I kept hearing what sounded like a cardinal, which I usually think of as an East Coast bird, calling from the scrubby desert. When I took our kayak in to explore the beach the following morning, I was able to see him - a bright red male, calling from a green mesquite tree - in the distance with my binoculars. Cardinals do frequent this part of Mexico, but it still seemed strange to see him here in the West. I also saw a cactus wren, which was another new bird for me. On the beach, which was strewn with bones and stones and sticks and shells of all kinds, I found a dolphin skull and some of its vertebrae scattered nearby. That was something different!
Just behind the beach, a dirt road led off into the distance, begging for exploration. Eric and I obliged the next day, following it for a few miles, up and down scrub-and-cactus-lined hills, and out to some amazing coastal cliffs. We saw lots of different kinds of cactus (who knew there were so many?) and lots of big grasshoppers and lizards. In a little cove a few miles south of Las Cocinas, we saw a cluster of small homes, which looked new and uninhabited. Construction was going on nearby, so we thought it might be a new resort being built. If so, it's a pretty secluded spot for a resort.
Each day, the clouds piled up into massive mounds above the mountains just inland of us. It was mesmerizing, to watch them blossom and swirl in a neverending kaleidoscope of white shapes. And each evening, they treated us to lightning (but no thunder) and lots of wind (but no rain). Every night, I wondered if tonight would be the night that the storms decided to come out over the water, but they always stayed inland.
We left the following afternoon for an overnight passage back across the Sea of Cortez to the Baja side, to attend the annual Fourth of July party thrown by Geary, the weather guy for the daily Sonrisa cruiser's radio net, at his place in El Burro Cove.
Sitting in the cockpit as SCOOTS sailed merrily along at about 6 knots, I glanced back at the stern and was amazed to see, in the place where the swimstep contacted the frothy water, three little striped fish, each maybe two inches long, swimming for all they were worth, trying to keep up with the boat. I recognized them as some of the fish that tend to live around SCOOTS' prop and rudder, when she's at anchor. I could see them there until the wind decreased and we slowed down. Maybe they were swimming further under the boat? I made a mental note to jump in the water with my mask after we anchored, to see if they were still swimming around underneath us.
Later, a couple of black storm-petrels started following us, flying a pattern back and forth across our wake. These birds pick up their food from the ocean's surface, and I suppose they'd learned that boats sometimes stir up things as they go along. During dinner, we threw small pieces of food behind the boat, and watched as they found them. Soon we had six or seven storm-petrels trailing us; I have no idea where they came from. You know you're really cruising when the birds you're feeding aren't city pigeons, backyard songbirds, or even coastal gulls...but pelagic, ocean-going birds like these storm-petrels.
We kept a watchful eye on the tremendous storm clouds building - as they did each day - over the mountains, in case they chose this night for floating west out over the Sea, with us, instead of cruising north along the mainland, as they'd been doing. They didn't come west, and we had the beautiful night passage that I had hoped for. With light winds and a full moon, I was even able to write the day's journal entry during one of my night watches, standing on the cockpit seats with my notebook open on the hard dodger, the pages illuminated by moonlight.
Light winds meant we had to run the engine for quite awhile, so we had a pretty fast trip across the Sea, arriving at the entrance to Bahia Concepcion at about 7 am. Flocks of diving seabirds and schools of leaping rays greeted us, welcoming us back to Baja. There was no wind, so we continued motoring down beautiful Bahia Concepcion to Bahia Coyote, where little Playa El Burro is tucked up against the mountains. Half a dozen other boats were already anchored in the lime-green water, but we found a spot for SCOOTS, dropped the anchor, and took a nap.