Anchored in a Volcano
02 April 2015 | 24 31.93'N:110 22.52'W, Caleta Partida, Isla Espiritu Santos, Mexico
After spending a few days in gorgeous Puerto Balandra, it was time to head 10 miles south into the bay and visit the town of LaPaz.
Even before we were in the harbour, we could tell by the incessant radio chatter that it may not be a spot that we would stay too long. You see, there are several types of cruisers out here. Some cruisers are like us and are in Mexico to explore, take in the scenery, and eventually move on. Another type of cruiser, which there seem to be a lot of in Mexico, is basically here to find a floating "raisin ranch" and stay there. For them, it is more about the beading workshops, 9:30-10:30am coffee clubs, and the afternoon group power walks. In short, its a stationary retirement community for half a year for them - not unlike snowbirds who head to Arizona. I'm not trying to make it sound like we are better or "correct" cruisers, but just that we enjoy very different things. LaPaz is chocked full of cruisers who are proud to tell you that they have been here in the harbour for 15 years! It seems like a real waste to me to not explore the area. All that they seem to do all d ay is call each other on the radio and plan the next workshop or event. You should see the brochure for the schedule of events that they print every weekÉ Not our cup of tea, so as we got closer to LaPaz, we simply turned the radio off - at the risk of missing the details for the Wednesday bread making workshop!
As you can guess, the anchorage in LaPaz was extremely crowded, but it was equally large. We found a good spot pretty close to Marina de LaPaz, the cruiser hub, and dropped the hook. It's nice and shallow in this large harbour but is still a difficult place to anchor. The shape of the bay means that there is a strong inflow and outflow of tide, twice a day, of 2-3 knots. Swimming would be hilarious as your boat would disappear as soon you hit the water! It's also reasonably windy. Because of the cool water and hot desert land, the wind reverses each night. Put this all together and you have what is called "The LaPaz Waltz" several times a day. Some boats are more affected by the current and some are more affected by the wind. Catamarans, of course, mostly swing to the wind - the opposite way of the monohulls. What a mess this causes! We also found that when the wind was diagonal to the current, which was quite often, we would literally be sailing sideways off the anchor chain back and forth. By sitting at the helm and steering, I could dramatically change the location of the boat! As you can guess, even when it seemed like we were hundreds of feet from the next boat, we could be a couple of boats lengths away the next minute. Luckily, no bumps in the night.
The busy scene in LaPaz was a bit too intense for us (we are learning that we prefer the smaller more Mexican villages) so we decided to get our groceries and get out sooner rather than later. We will be back this way in late May when it will be much quieter, so we may spend some time here then. Friends of ours, Tom & Kim, spent their time in LaPaz in the Costa Baja Marina, about six miles out of town, and I can now understand why.
In less than 24 hours in LaPaz, we bought groceries, stretched our legs with a couple of good walks, and headed back out of the harbour. We kept going north past Balandra, and headed out to the islands of Espiritu Santos and Partida. These two islands are extremely interesting geologically as they are huge slabs of decomposing granite, aggregate, and sandstone that are tilted up towards the east. This creates several anchorages on the west side that offer good holding and reasonable protection. We are currently anchored in Caleta Partida, which is an extinct and partially collapsed volcanic crater. Step red rock slopes are all around with quite a number of caves on the NW side. Last night it was perfectly quiet and very dark as soon as the moon set. We'll spend a couple of days here and then keep heading further north. It's quite windy right now which will make for wet dinghy ride, but either way, we'll have to head out soon and explore the area.
p.s. Thanks for the positive feedback on the posts. It is much appreciated!