My impressions of the Sea of Cortez so far: It is hot. And it is only June. This worries me a bit. As for the scenery – it is beautiful in a deserted, rugged way. The best description I can come up with is it looks like someone flooded Utah and we can sail there. There is a certain oddness sitting in a sailboat on the water, looking at a barren rocky shoreline with cacti dotting the topography.
Other than our “weekend getaway” from La Paz up to Calita Partida, we remained Sea of Cortez virgins. Well, not completely, as we’ve crossed the Sea three times and counting, but crossings don’t really count for cruising and pretty much all you see is land, a lot of water, than land again. And the pages of your book (or Kindle screen, I guess I should say now) and the back of your eyelids during your breaks from the helm. Well, and some dolphins and leaping rays. But my point is that we have yet to anchor up in the cruising grounds of the Sea of Cortez.
So after a couple busy, expensive days in La Paz we were loaded up with food, fuel (diesel and propane), a new Mexican courtesy flag (that of course is still waiting to replace the half of the one we are currently flying), various supplies such as oil for the dinghy outboard and water for the batteries, and full stomachs from one last Shack Burger, we once again left La Paz. Our first night was once again in Calita Partida although we didn’t go exploring this time. Since Isla Espiritu Santo is so close to La Paz we’ll save that area for our next visit to the La Paz area.
Our next stop was Isla San Francisco, which we really enjoyed. It might have been a tad bit better if we had moved to another anchorage just around the corner of the island for our second night that would have afforded better protection from the SW winds that came up, but it wasn’t the most uncomfortable night we’ve had at anchorage. There are some great beaches, hiking, and probably snorkeling although we didn’t explore that option. We chatted with a father and his two young kids and got the scoop on snorkeling for agates at one of the beaches so we’ll try that on our return. We also caught up with our friends on Tan Tori who we hadn’t seen since La Cruz (I’m thinking we last saw them the night of the big tourist party, but it is a bit fuzzy). A swing by to say hi turned into drinks, then dinner, than more drinks. They are also planning to spend the summer up north so I’m sure our paths will cross again, maybe even this evening as we are headed back to the anchorage they are currently in.
From Isla San Francisco, we took a short 5 mile jaunt to San Everisto, a fairly protected bay with a small fishing village. We made it ashore and wandered around, checking out the local Tienda which had some pretty limited supplies, none of which we needed just yet after our La Paz shopping spree just a few days back. The highlight was a very cute dog we dubbed Pepe that joined us midway through our walk and escorted us for a bit till another dog proved more interesting than our constitutional. The protected anchorage was nice as we had another windy night of the local Corumels. These winds come up in the evening and often last through the night, blowing from the south to southwest (the direction many anchorages in this area are exposed to). They are localized to the (greater) La Paz area and are formed by air blowing across the Baja peninsula from the cooler Pacific waters to the warmer waters for the Sea of Cortez. While they don’t blow every night in the summer, they are frequent. On the plus side they cool things down and keep the bugs off the boat, but at 20-30 knots of wind they can test your ground tackle and can cause you to wake up frequently at night to make sure your boat is still where you anchored it. The good news is they tend to stop by the time you reach Aqua Verde, our next stop. The bad news? Elaphantes and Chubascos. And in another couple months, hurricanes. It isn’t all Pina Coladas at sunset in paradise! But now that we have successfully made ice against our fridge evaporator plate, it is more Pina Coladas.
Aqua Verde was our next stop, a pleasant little village but a bit bigger than San Everisto. While the rugged Sierra de la Giganta mountains frequently come right down to the sea, here there is a bit of a flat spot with enough water coming from some where to grow some beautiful green vegetation. We went ashore to explore a bit and one of the locals bumping down the dirt road in his pickup stopped and offered us a ride when we asked him where the tienda was. While I was trying to phrase the question in my head, Jenn asked him in Spanish how many people lived there. About 150-200 people, enough to actually support two tiendas. They do not, however have any internet, although one house did have a phone he informed us when we asked about feeding our online addiction. We checked out both tiendas and again, neither was quite like shopping at a Safeway back home (and have I mentioned we would probably commit crimes for a shopping spree at Trader Joes?). We picked up some bananas and tortillas, but struck out on the goat cheese our guide book recommended finding in the area. While the town lacked the traditional square in the center many towns here feature, as we walked back to our dinghy around dusk kids began playing with a soccer ball on the basketball court that was roughly in the middle of things and several adults seemed to be strolling around the town.
The next day we pushed 17 miles to an anchorage at Candeleros. As we approached from the south you have to round a small point, and there it is, a beautiful resort with a 5 pool complex, pretty much in the middle of nowhere. Sadly they have discontinued taking a boat around the anchorage in the morning with free coffee and pastries for cruising boats which they did last year, but they are still allowing us unwashed heathen cruisers to use the pool and there is wi-fi in the bay if you have an antenna (where I’ll be posting this later). We went to the office and “registered” which involved getting a wristband and card for purchases at the resort in exchange for a credit card imprint. We found out happy hour was 4-6 pm with 2×1 drinks. Even with buy one get one free, they were some of the most expensive drinks we’ve had in Mexico. But to put it in some perspective – at Las Hadas in Manzanillo they wanted 200 pesos a day to land the dinghy at their dock, and with that fee you could also use the pool. Here we can drag our dinghy up on the beach for free, hang out at a nicer resort with better service and get free wifi, and we were paying about half the dinghy dock fee and actually receiving drinks. So all in all, not the worst deal in the world. This resort is reached by driving several miles on a dirt road, and is about 25 miles from the town big enough to have an airport. If you want a secluded stay somewhere, this could be your place. If you can manage to get here.
We took advantage of the resorts offer to let sailors ride their shuttle to Loreto if it wasn’t full of paying guests. Loreto appears to be a fairly nice town, with more than just basic supplies (finally). As it is kind of the hub of commerce in the area, we’ll explore it more and I’ll document it after we do. We were just kind of on a quick trip to pick up some perishables were were starting to run low on. Of course, when we arrived in Loreto we planned to take the next shuttle back, just a few hours later at 4:00 pm. But when we signed up for it, we were 18 and 19 on an 18 passenger bus. The next bus wasn’t till 9 pm and put us in the position of hesitancy to buy anything that could spoil if we didn’t make it on the bus and had to wait 5 more hours (have I mentioned the heat yet?). We made the choice to limit our purchases, and of course that meant we made it back on the bus which actually held 19 counting the front seat. Live and learn…
So far we are enjoying this area, lots of anchorages within a day or two of sailing, and access to supplies although we have to work a bit harder for them and pay a bit more for them. We’ve caught up with some boats we know and look forward to meeting some new people as we visit the various anchorages. Right now our “plan” is to hang out in this area for a bit, but we’ll eventually work our way further north as hurricanes have been know to visit this area, but historically not till later in the summer.