There is a phenomenon boats experience when anchored in La Paz known as the La Paz waltz. The combination of wind and current tends to make boats move around their anchor in some unique ways, not always quite as expected. You can end up pointing the opposite way as the boat next to you, even though normally boats at anchor tend to line up with each other. We experienced quite a bit of it on our first trip here last fall. Maybe it is the reduction in strong northerly winds in the spring, or our repeated change of anchorage locations, but we seem to be doing a little less waltzing on this visit, more just shuffling around our anchor. Which is also what we’ve been doing the La Paz area. When we arrived from Mazatlan after fairly smooth sailing with an escort of 30 or so dolphins for 20 minutes, we found the spot we wanted to anchor at occupied by a large ketch that has the look of a boat that is going to sit in the same spot for a long time. Various supplies, including a sheet of plywood covered the decks, and as we did a drive by an older guy poked is head out from under the tarp cover and did not return my wave. We moved to another spot, where we were informed by another older guy on a another large ketch that doesn’t look like it is going to move anytime soon either that the port captain would probably tell us to move. Being the weekend we decided to wait to move, and when Monday rolled around we didn’t quite get to it either. By Wednesday I had run into a cruiser from we met in La Cruz who offered up his spot in the anchorage as he was going into a marina for a few days. So we shuffled off to that spot which worked out well except for a lack of good wi-fi signals. Ahh, the pursuit of the perfect anchorage.
And now, a few bird pictures I took back in Mazatlan and never got around to posting.
After all that work to get into a good spot, we decided to get out of town for a few days. Our friend Marek, who had sailed down from Anacortes at the same time we sailed down the coast, was also ready to head out of La Paz, so we buddy boated up to Ispiritu Santo, an island just north of town set aside as a national park. We hung out for a few days and enjoyed the rugged beauty and relative isolation of the area. There were a few boats in the anchorage the first night, and then the weekend hit and it jumped to 14 boats. In a rather bizarre moment for us, there was a time when there were more power boats then sailboats in the anchorage. That was a first for us. Of course, two of the powerboats had to anchor directly upwind from us. With the winds at night running in the mid 20 knot range with some gusts over 30 (according to another boat, I still need to install our wind speed instrument) and my experience with some power boaters skill at anchoring I was on the nervous side. Of course, they dropped their hooks just as it was getting dark and the wind was picking up and I wasn’t eager to move at that point so I just kept an eye on them. For some reason they both moved to the other side of the bay allowing me to relax a bit, although with that much wind you still don’t sleep all that soundly. Our third night the wind died out and we had a flat, quiet night of deep sleep.
During the day we dinghied ashore and wandered around, checking out the hundreds or even thousands of fiddler crabs on one of the beaches. There were numerous cacti growing near the water, and volcanic rock as well as visible layers of soil and rock in the hills rising out of water. While not the green forests we are used to from the pacific northwest wilderness, there was a beauty to this anchorage, with reddish rocks and aqua green waters contrasting to provide spectacular vistas. We also took a dinghy trip with Marek through a narrow, shallow channel that separates two islands. After we made it through the channel we motored down to several large sea caves. We had perfect conditions for the trip as we were on the lee side of the island and there was no swell we easily drove the dinghy into the the caves. What we didn’t have is a camera, so we’ll have to go back for some pictures. We stopped and did some snorkeling in some of the clearest water we’ve been in so far, although it was not the warmest. The biggest warning about the Sea of Cortez we heard from people was the temperature, and so far we’ve had chilly nights and
chilly refreshing water temperatures. I’ll get back to you in August… I found a gap in the rocks that allowed us to swim from the the snorkeling area into a sea cave and took several trips back and forth in Jaques Costeau mode.
While we were anchoring the dinghy a man from the powerboat anchored a couple hundred feet out from the sea cave swung by on a paddleboard to inquire about where we were anchored and the conditions there. His boat was not in a spot our guide book listed as an anchorage – he was essentially just out in the open a few hundred feet from the side of the island, while we were tucked into a bay that our guide book showed charted depths for, with high cliffs providing some protection from wind and waves as long as there weren’t coming directly from the West. I gave him information about our anchorage and asked how deep his spot was. He said he anchored in about 110′ feet, but he probably drug anchoring during the windy night because it was now 130′ deep. I asked him what kind of sea bed conditions he was in, but he didn’t know. For those of you in the know, you can now understand my nervous moments having two similarly sized powerboats anchored upwind from me the previous night. He said he was going to move over to our anchorage, but somewhat thankfully we didn’t see him show up before we left the next morning.
After a few days of what we felt was a little mini vacation, we decided to run back to La Paz. As always, there are some projects to work on including a leaky water pump in the engine I would like to resolve while we are near a large city with good marine services. Of course the morning we left there were dolphins in the bay and even a whale that we did not get a get enough look at to identify. We idled around in the dinghy watching the dolphins but even at dinghy level they just don’t seem to want to come over for a petting session, much to Jenn’s disappointment. Finally we said a goodbye to Marek who is heading north to explore a bit, while we pointed south back to La Paz. Of course the there wasn’t any wind, but we did get yet more dolphins to entertain us before we finally got enough wind to sail for a bit. I had sailed all the way out of the La Paz channel on the way north and tried to sail back in but had to use the engine for a little assist – best not to push it around channel markers the outline a course around a sand bar.
We should be in project mode, but we have a chance to go get some pool time at the nicest resort in town with the very friendly crew of Double Diamond before they return home to Washington for the summer. Sometimes, you just have to know when to go hang out at the pool.